Bogota Free Planet


BFP Magazine



News, Bogota, Colombia, World

A past dictator's grandson elected mayor of Bogota

By Toby Muse, Associated Press

Monday, October 29, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia — The leftist grandson of a 1950s dictator was elected Sunday as mayor of Bogota, considered Colombia's second-most powerful elected office, in regional and local voting that was largely free of violence.

Colombian local elections go through amid accidental death, arrests, power cut

Monday, October 29, 2007

BOGOTA, (Xinhua) -- Colombians on Sunday voted in regional elections which the authorities said were generally peaceful, despite the accidental death of one candidate, the arrest of dozens of people for voting irregularities and a rebel attack on power pylons that left four towns without electricity.

Colombia Says Top Guerilla Leader, 18 More Killed

Friday, October 26, 2007

BOGOTA- (Reuters) Colombian troops backed by war planes have killed a top guerrilla commander in an assault on his jungle camp, delivering another serious blow to the country's largest rebel group, authorities said on Thursday.

Colombian Defense Minister urges FARC to disarm

Friday, October 26, 2007

BOGOTA, (Xinhua) -- Colombian Defense Minister Thursday called on the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to lay down weapons and stop confrontations with the government.

Colombian Couple Deported; Sons Can Stay

Friday, October 26, 2007

MIAMI -- A Colombian couple who fled their home country in 1990 and overstayed their visas by more than a decade are being deported despite the attention their family's case has received.

Making “Disposables” `Angels of the House’

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It’s the flicker of hope that comes from seeing a hungry child eating a bowl of soup that keeps Diana Sanchez going on her longest days. It’s a never-give-up kind of hope that the soup kettle will be full enough to feed all of the children who find their way to Fundacion Mundial tomorrow, and as on many days as possible after that.

Fundacion Mundial is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that got up and running with the help of hundreds of neighours in April of 2004. Too busy feeding hungry mouths on a daily basis, Sanchez is now counting on Canada Free Press’ partners at the Bogotá.Free Planet to get the word out that it is only the kindness of people that can keep the organization going.

Floods create a ‘ghost town’, putting young lives on hold in Córdoba, Colombia

By Vanessa Molina, UNICEF

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PALO DE AGUA, Colombia – From the highway connecting Cereté with Lorica, you can begin to see how flooding has affected this zone of the Department of Córdoba. Although the trunks of the coconut palms remain standing, what used to be fertile land looks like a swamp.

UN body offers 1.7 mln dlrs to Colombia's anti-pollution project

Thursday, October 25, 2007

BOGOTA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The UN Industrial Development Organization (Unido) has assigned 1.7 million U.S. dollars to a program for removing mercury pollution from gold mines in northeastern Colombia, the foreign ministry said Wednesday in a statement.

Bush Invokes Harper's Comments on Colombia

By Lee Berthiaume, Embassy

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One congressman says Stephen Harper's comments lend weight to supporting a free trade deal with the Latin American nation.

In an indication that American and Canadian leaders are of the same mind when it comes to the hemisphere, U.S. President George W. Bush quoted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in calling on Congress to ratify his country's free trade deal with Colombia.

Colombia's Juanes shows he doesn't need to sing in English to sell

The Associated Press

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NEW YORK: Throughout his career, Colombian rocker Juanes has insisted he does not need to sing in English. Hefty pre-launch online sales from his latest CD "La vida es un ratico" (Life is just a moment) prove him right.

21 poll candidates killed in Colombia

AFP

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BOGOTA: Two more candidates in Colombia's upcoming regional elections were shot dead yesterday during a political rally in southern Colombia, raising the death toll in the campaign to at least 21.

Colombian Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Support the FARC

US Department of Justice

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

WASHINGTON – A Colombian man pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in attempting to provide material support to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated foreign terrorist organization, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein of the National Security Division announced today.

Bernardo Valdes Londono, 49, of Pereira, Colombia, pleaded guilty in Miami before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard to one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Colombia seen to deserve vote on trade pact

By Doug Palmer

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress should vote as soon as possible on a controversial free-trade pact with Colombia, despite concerns raised by labor groups, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Monday.

"Colombia deserves a vote," Gutierrez told reporters. "It's not right to give a vote to Peru, give a vote to Panama and sort of let (Colombia) go away by not bringing it to a vote. Colombia should be voted on ... as soon as possible."

Be wary of protectionist push

Pjstar

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

President Bush was out banging the free-trade drum this month, seeking support for pacts with Colombia, Panama, Peru and South Korea. But just as Bush was extolling the virtues of open trade, his fellow Republicans showed they were starting to sour on the subject.

White House: Failure by Congress to pass free trade agreement with Colombia would help Chavez

Lily Hindy, Associated Press Writer

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) - The Bush administration warned Monday that failure by Congress to adopt a free trade agreement with Colombia would bolster the anti-American campaign of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said that refusal by lawmakers to pass the agreement ''will embolden someone like Hugo Chavez to think that he can make hay out of that crisis, and it will be a crisis if the free trade agreement does not pass.''

Pre-poll killings up in Colombia, says watchdog

Source ::: REUTERS

Monday, October 22, 2007

BOGOTA • Assassinations of candidates ahead of Colombia's October 28 local elections are up sharply compared to the 2003 campaign as rebels hit by tougher security policies strike back, a watchdog group said.

Twenty-five candidates have fallen victim to leftist guerrillas or gangs replacing disbanded far-right paramilitaries, Colombia's independent Electoral Observation Mission said on Friday in a statement contested by the government, which said violence is down.

Women gaining power in Latin America

By Jack Chang, McClatchy News Service

Monday, October 22, 2007

On the eve of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's almost-assured victory in Argentina, South American women are rising in nations long dominated by men

BUENOS AIRES --Defying Latin America's longtime reputation as a bastion of machismo, women in South America are winning political power at an unprecedented rate and taking top positions in higher education and even, albeit more slowly, in business.

Colombian Couple Recovers Kidnapped Dog After Ransom Plot

Monday, October 22, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia  —  A kidnapped German Shepherd was returned to its elderly owners in Bogota Friday, three days after a police sting operation thwarted payment of a US$350,000 ransom.

The dog, named Aldo, had been left by his abductors at a veterinarian's office earlier this week and was identified on Friday, after the story of his kidnapping was published on the front page of the country's largest newspaper, El Tiempo.

Execution reports may delay U.S. aid to Colombia

By Pablo Bachetet, Miami Herald

Friday, October 19, 2007

Accusations of civilian deaths by Colombian military forces cast a shadow over U.S. aid to Colombia and a pending free-trade agreement.

WASHINGTON --A spike in deaths blamed by human rights groups on the Colombian armed forces is threatening millions of dollars in U.S. military aid and may raise further questions over a pending free-trade agreement.

Colombia asks Chávez less personal promotion in FARC case

El Universal

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Colombian government requested Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to reduce the use for personal promotion of his role as mediator in the efforts at humanitarian swap, said on Thursday Colombian Defense Minister José Manuel Santos.

Gas Natural to start South American biogas project

Source: Datamonitor

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spanish energy group Gas Natural, in a joint venture with energy management company GRS Valtech, has been awarded a project to carry out the treatment and exploitation of biogas from the Dona Juana municipal landfill in Bogota, Colombia in South America.

Colombian officials demand discreetness over peace process

Source: Xinhua http://www.xinhuanet.com/english

Friday, October 19, 2007

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Thursday prohibited his officials from making any more public nor private statements regarding Colombia's foreign relations or the peace process with Venezuela.

Congress should endorse Colombia trade agreement

By Dick Morris & Eileen Mc Gann, Jewish World Review

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The recent deal between Congress and the White House clears the way for the ratification of free-trade agreements with Panama and Peru, two American allies in Latin America. But what about Colombia?

Colombia has risked the lives of its police and military and sustained huge casualties in an effort to do us a favor by keeping drugs off our streets. Our military aid to Colombia has not been frittered away on useless hardware or used to line some general's pockets, but has paid for a military that has disarmed the drug dealers' personal armies — 30,000 have been disarmed — and driven the leftist drug-linked guerillas into hiding in a remote jungle portion of the country. Unable to come out or mount operations in major urban areas, they are just trying to survive, to stay one step ahead of the American helicopters manned by brave Colombian soldiers that pursue them.

A Language, Not Quite Spanish, With African Echoes

By SIimon Romero, The New York Times

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SAN BASILIO DE PALENQUE, Colombia — The residents of this village, founded centuries ago by runaway slaves in the jungle of northern Colombia, eke out their survival from plots of manioc. Pigs wander through dirt roads. The occasional soldier on patrol peeks into houses made of straw, mud and cow dung.

Researchers Examine World's Potential To Produce Biodiesel

ENERGY TECH By Staff Writers

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Madison WI (SPX)
What do the countries of Thailand, Uruguay and Ghana have in common" They all could become leading producers of the emerging renewable fuel known as biodiesel, says a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. The ease of manufacturing biodiesel from vegetable oils and animal fats has made it one of the most promising, near-term alternatives to fossil fuels.

Kidnapping in Venezuela to be discussed with FARC

El Universal

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will possibly cash in on his upcoming meeting with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) in the context of the humanitarian swap to deal with the release of Venezuelans hostages held by the guerrillas.

Colombia mourns goldmine victims

BBC News

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rescuers have ended search efforts in southern Colombia where a makeshift mine collapsed on Saturday, killing 21 people and injuring some 24 others.

Red Cross officials said 16 women were among the dead at the mine located near the town of Suarez, about 350km (220 miles) from Bogota.

What's Eating Colombia's President?

By Sibylla Brodzinsky , Time

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombians have become accustomed to seeing their prickly President, Alvaro Uribe, lose his cool whenever he feels he or his family is under attack. But his onslaught last week on the country's highest courts, as well as some of its most respected journalists, surprised even Colombia's most hardened of political observers.

PWS opens in Colombia

By Ben Norris, Business Insurance

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia— London-based PWS Holdings P.L.C. has announced that its new office in Bogota, Colombia has received formal approval from the Colombian regulatory authorities and is now fully operational.

Ex-Colombian justice minister convicted in '89 killing

Friday, October 12, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- A former justice minister was convicted Thursday of masterminding the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, a cartel-fighting politician.

Alberto Santofimio was sentenced to 24 years in prison by a Bogota court for ordering a hit squad belonging to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar to kill Galan in 1989 to boost his own candidacy and prevent Escobar's extradition to the United States.

"This ruling reaffirms our belief as a nation in the justice system, that the participation of politicians in the murder of my father won't go unpunished," Sen. Juan Manuel Galan told The Associated Press.

Informe sobre la implementación de la ley de justica y paz: Etapas inciales del proceso de desmovilización de las AUC y primeras diligecias judiciales

Source: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Friday, October 12, 2007

OEA/Ser.L/V/II
I. INTRODUCCIÓN Y ANTECEDENTES

1. Hacia mediados del año 2006 la República de Colombia superó la etapa inicial del proceso de desmovilización de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (en adelante "las AUC"),(1) grupo armado ilegal involucrado en la comisión de crímenes durante el conflicto armado.(2) Esta etapa inicial consistió en la entrega de armas por parte de 31.670 personas que se identificaron como miembros de 38 bloques de las AUC(3) y otros grupos armados al margen de la ley que se concentraron en zonas temporales de ubicación con la verificación internacional de la Misión de Apoyo para el Proceso de Paz en Colombia de la OEA (adelante "Misión MAPP/OEA").

Hostage swap offers opening for peace in Colombia

By Veronica Sardon, dpa German Press Agency

Friday, October 12, 2007

Buenos Aires- Whether the hostages held by Colombia's leftist rebels will be free anytime soon remains anybody's guess. However, recent initiatives to secure their release have produced an impressive and unexpected pool of promising gestures.

Presidents Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela are meeting Friday on the Colombian border town of La Guajira for talks including the chances that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would free about 45 hostages - some held for more than 10 years - in exchange for the release of nearly 500 imprisoned members of the Marxist rebel army.

Amerisur encouraged by Colombian drilling

Friday, October 12, 2007

LONDON (SHARECAST) - Shares in oil and gas explorer Amerisur Resources edged higher this morning as the company had comforting news regarding test drilling operations in Colombia.

The re-entry of the Alea-1 well was completed without operational problems, and produced a controlled flow rate of about 160 barrels of oil per day (bopd) through a ?’ choke.

The ?’ choke was used to enable the company to observe fluid properties; when the well was initially tested in 1998 it produces flow rates in excess of 500 bopd using a 9/16’ choke.

Surge in safety, cruises lifts Colombia tourism

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

Friday, October 12, 2007

CARTAGENA, Colombia — In a country associated more with narcoterrorists than sybaritic pleasures, leisure travel can be a tough sell.

But Colombia's climate is changing. Security experts no longer routinely warn visitors that if they stray too far from major cities, they might as well schedule their own kidnappings.

Foreign tourist visits are up from a half-million four years ago to 1.2 million now. Kidnappings have dropped by half. (Officials stress that tourists were never a target.)

Colombia's beauty obsession reaches even to prison Inmates take the spotlight at prison pageant

By John Otis, Houston Chronicle South America Bureau

Thursday, October 11, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia — You could call her "Miss Death Squad." Jailed for supplying weapons to illegal right-wing paramilitary assassins, Angie Sanchez is now, in a manner of speaking, a queen of the convicts. The slim 21-year-old took top honors in an annual beauty pageant at the Good Shepherd women's prison here.

A penitentiary may seem an odd place to display glitz and glamour, but the prison's warden puts on the beauty contest each year in an effort to boost the prisoners' morale and break the monotony of life behind bars.

FARC hostages: France offers solutions

Report by Francois Hauter, Le Figaro

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy has sent an emissary to Caracas and Bogota and he is suggesting neutral locations - an airplane or a boat - to promote the negotiations.
The negotiations for the hostages (including Ingrid Betancourt) that the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] is holding in the Colombian jungle have entered an active phase. Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been very active since he was elected head of state, sent an emissary from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs these past two days to try to untangle the many difficulties in this affair. Talks between the FARC and the Colombian state have been at an impasse for more than eight years. Thousands of innocent hostages in Colombia have paid with their freedom.

EU support Chavez mediator role in humanitarian agreement with the Farc

Mathaba

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The European Union (EU) gave its formal support to the mediator role played by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and Alvaro Uribe's government to reach an humanitarian agreement aimed at releasing the guerrilla's hostages...

Popular Colombian game show canceled after contestant admits to contracting killer

Thursday, October 11, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia - The hit game show "Nothing But the Truth" has been canceled after a contestant won $25,000 for admitting she hired someone to kill her husband.

Tuesday was the final day for the show, in which contestants attached to a lie-detector machine answered 21 increasingly invasive questions to win up to $50,000.

Leader Says He Intervened in an Inquiry in Colombia

By Simon Romero, New York Times

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CARTAGENA, Colombia, — President Álvaro Uribe acknowledged Tuesday that he had intervened in an independent investigation of a jailed paramilitary leader, saying that investigators were trying to enmesh him in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate another militia chief.

The imprisoned leader, José Moncada, wrote a letter to Mr. Uribe recently in which he vaguely mentioned an attempt to link the president to a 2003 effort to kill another warlord. The letter also pleads with Mr. Uribe to avoid being entangled by investigators.

Rice pushes for trade pact with Colombia

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday made an impassioned plea for the US to approve a free trade agreement with Colombia that is being threatened by Democratic concerns over Alvaro Uribe's government's record on human and labour rights.

The US secretary of state told a small group of trade and economic journalists that deals with Peru, Colombia and Panama all needed to be backed by Congress to boost the US economy and further its interests in Latin America.

Coroner wants Colombia Three fugitive to testify

By Chris Thornton, Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner appealed yesterday for one of the Colombia Three fugitives to contact him to testify in a 25-year-old "shoot to kill" case.

Coroner John Leckey told a preliminary hearing in Belfast he will revive inquests into three controversial RUC shootings that left six people dead in 1982.

Colombia's Uribe accuses high court judge of bribing witness to testify to role in murder

The Associated Press

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: President Alvaro Uribe publicly accused a Supreme Court judge of bribing a jailed warlord into testifying that Uribe plotted to murder another paramilitary chief.

In a short statement Monday and later in a radio interview, Uribe said auxiliary Judge Ivan Velasquez and another investigator for the chief prosecutor's office offered Jose Orlando Moncada unspecified benefits for himself and his family if he denounced the president.

Gossip law is a juicy topic in Colombia

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

In Tulua, anyone spreading 'calumny that injures or dishonors' faces fines of up to $1,100 or two months in jail.

TULUA, COLOMBIA -- Mayor Juan Guillermo Angel got tired of the gossip swirling around this farm town that has been famous for rumormongering for nearly three centuries. So he outlawed it.
Or did he?

Bad weather preventing search for missing plane in Colombia

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

BOGOTA, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Bad weather was blocking the search for a plane which went missing on Monday in the central Colombian province of Meta with 15 soldiers and three civilian crew members on board, the military said.

The air force and civil aviation authorities would resume the search early on Tuesday morning, the military said in a press release

Pro-U.S. leader of Colombia may take leftward turn

By Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald

Monday, October 8, 2007

What was unthinkable until recently is beginning to be considered a likely scenario in U.S. foreign policy circles - that Colombia's U.S.-backed President Álvaro Uribe will move increasingly closer to Venezuela's anti-American strongman Hugo Chávez.

This is the thinking: After a big victory by Ecuador's President Rafael Correa in a Sept. 30 referendum to change the constitution and create a Chávez-inspired socialist republic, Colombia will be left sandwiched between two leftist governments calling for a continent-wide "revolution."

Kidnapped in Colombia

By Mike Ceaser, Chronicle Foreign Service

Monday, October 8, 2007

Colombia - "Hi Daddy, this is Thomas. I love you so much and know you're coming back soon to be with me. I'm sending you a picture of my baseball team. My team was the winner this season. I pray every night so you can come back soon."

The message from 9-year-old Thomas Howes Jr. to his father, Tom Howes, an American contractor held hostage by Colombian guerrillas, aired recently on "Voices of Kidnapping," one of the world's grimmest radio shows.

SABMiller targets ‘sober’ Colombia

By Nicola Mawson , Consumer Industries Correspondent

Monday, October 8, 2007

BOGOTA — Brewer SABMiller aimed to grow beer consumption in Colombia in a bid to drive up the image of the brew against other alcoholic beverages to grow volumes, it said last week.

SABMiller bought a controlling stake in the Bavaria Group in 2005, valuing it at $7,8bn. Karl Lippert, president of its Colombia-based subsidiary, Bavaria, said Colombia was a relatively sober country.

Colombia and Cuba for Energy Cooperation

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bogota, Oct 7 (Prensa Latina) A Colombian delegation of important enterprises and institutions traveled to Cuba this Sunday aiming to widen bilateral cooperation in energy issues.

The Colombian delegation will have contacts with Cuban representatives as part of the mutual cooperation on rational use of energy and use of renewable energy between the Cuban Basic Industry and the Colombian Energy and Mining Ministry of Colombia.

Colombia excludes rebels held in US from prisoner swap

Friday, October 5, 2007

BOGOTA (AFP) - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe insisted on Wednesday that two rebel leaders held in the United States would not be included in a proposed prisoner swap with Colombia's FARC rebel group.

Visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates indicated he agreed with Uribe on the issue, saying: "I'm satisfied with those limits."

Uribe ally quits Colombia Senate

BBC News

Friday, October 5, 2007

A cousin of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has resigned from the Senate to avoid a Supreme Court inquiry into whether he had ties to paramilitaries.

Mario Uribe's resignation comes amid a scandal that has seen dozens of politicians accused of paramilitary links and 14 jailed awaiting trial.

Colombia Begins 24th Film Festival

Friday, October 5, 2007

The 24th Bogota Film Festival will start on Wednesday with the participation of 16 foreign films competing for awards in new young directors' work.

The Festival will be represented by the most recent Colombian productions along with films like "Satanas" from Andres Baiz and "Apocalipsur" from Javier Mejia as well as films from Mexico, Iran, Italy, Bolivia, Argentina, Germany, Brazil and India, among other countries.

Colombia Rebel Wants to Stay in U.S.

By Anabelle Garay, Associated Press Writer

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fort Worth, Texas (AP) --A Colombian rebel leader imprisoned in the U.S. does not want to be an obstacle in negotiations for the release of three Americans held hostage by her leftist group, offering to be left out of any prisoner swap, a Colombian lawmaker involved in the talks said Thursday.

Life in a FARC Camp

By Garry Leech, Colombia Journal

Friday, October 5, 2007

We met two female members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at the pre-established rendezvous point deep in the Colombian jungle. There we waited in a simple two-room wooden shack, which served as the home of a local peasant family. We sat there talking and drinking coffee while one of the guerrillas stood on the riverbank communicating through a hand-held radio. Finally, having received the all clear, which meant that there were no army patrols on the river, the four of us climbed into a canoe for the next stage of our journey. It had taken Terry Gibbs and myself more than two days to reach that point and we still had a short river trip and a hike through the jungle before we would finally arrive at the FARC camp that was our destination.

Renowned Colombian architect Salmona dies at 78

Thursday, October 4, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, a headstrong urbanist whose exposed brick structures celebrated his home of Bogota and won international praise, died Wednesday, a close friend said. He was 78.

Salmona — whose life work won him the 2003 Alvar Aalto Medal, one of architecture's highest honors — died of complications from colon cancer, said the friend, Fernando Quiroz.

Gates says hostage rescue demonstration impressive but not right for current crisis

Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, October 4, 2007

TOLEMAIDA AIR BASE, Colombia (AP) - Parachutes descended slowly in the sky as Colombian Army soldiers on the ground crept toward a makeshift enemy encampment. Shots rang out, and helicopters buzzed the compound.

Meeting delayed between Venezuela's Chavez and Colombian rebels

By Fabiola Sanchez, Associated Press

Thursday, October 4, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez and leaders of Colombia's largest rebel group have postponed a meeting aimed at securing the release of hostages including three Americans, a Colombian lawmaker involved in the talks said Wednesday.

Colombia works to escape its past

By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

Thursday, October 4, 2007

MEDELLIN, Colombia — In a city long synonymous with murder and mayhem, the neighborhood of Santo Domingo Savio was among the most deadly precincts. Heavily armed paramilitaries and drug lords, including the notorious Pablo Escobar, dueled here with automatic weapons and savage bombings amid cinder-block homes inhabited by some of a poor country's poorest citizens.

Colombian youngsters hope education will give them a life without bullets

By Gustavo Valdivieso and Ligimat Pérez

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

TIBU, Colombia, (UNHCR) – Claudia* was an innocent 10-year-old when a paramilitary group raided her hometown of La Gabarra in north-east Colombia and killed 70 people.

"The night of the massacre [on May 29, 1999] they turned down the lights first, then we began to hear gunfire," Claudia recalls. "I did not dare open the door until eight the next morning. Then I saw the bodies of many of my neighbours lying on the street," adds Claudia.

House leader offers some hope on trade deals

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top congressional Democrat offered the Bush administration and a leading U.S. business group on Tuesday some hope of winning approval of free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea if they can help find solutions to problems blocking the pacts.

Venezuela, US Talk, Ties Still Strained

By Alexandra Olson, Associated Press Writer

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Venezuela and the United States are on speaking terms to seek the release of three American hostages in Colombia, but an imminent thawing in relations is unlikely because of differences over crucial issues such as Iran, the Venezuelan foreign minister said.

Colombia Attorney General Ends Probe Against Fin Min-Ministry

By Inti Landauro

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

BOGOTA -(Dow Jones)- Colombia's Attorney General ended a probe started in August against Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga on alleged ties with paramilitary groups, the Finance Ministry's office said.

The Attorney General's office didn't find any reason to keep investigating Zuluaga, the ministry said in a statement.

FARC's Chance to Do Right for Colombia

By Marcela Sanchez, Special to washingtonpost.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Latin America's oldest guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, couldn't ask for a better opportunity to do what is right. For 43 years the FARC has been waging war against the Colombian state and more recently profiting from drug trafficking and kidnappings. Now it is using 45 high-profile hostages, including a former presidential candidate and three U.S. citizens, as pawns to negotiate the release of hundreds of FARC members held in Colombian prisons.

Pablo was no friend of mine, Colombia's Uribe says

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, dogged throughout his career by rumors of cozy relationships with drug lords and right-wing paramilitaries, said on Monday that he was never a friend of the late cocaine king Pablo Escobar.

Delegative Democracy: The Case of Colombia

Press Release: Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Analysis prepared by COHA Research Associate Manuel Trujillo

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In 1994, Guillermo O'Donnell, one of Latin America's most prominent political scientists, identified a "new species" of democracy that was now present throughout most of Latin America, and labeled this phenomenon "delegative democracy," a type that is neither representative nor institutionalized. The basic premise of a delegative democracy is that once an individual is elected president he/she is "thereby entitled to govern as he or she sees fit.

Colombian official warns of drug cartels' growing reach

By Dane Shille, Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Santos laments lack of U.S. focus on Latin America

The United States should return its attention to Latin America because drug cartels are spreading their influence through the region and streets and nations are lost to crime, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said Tuesday.

"Drug trafficking has spread like a cancer, like a cancer, in countries with very weak institutions," Santos said during an interview with the Houston Chronicle editorial board, in an effort to promote the Andean nation as a strong partner to the United States. "You are going to have a huge problem on your hands in the very, very near future."

Colombian, French presidents discuss hostage release by FARC

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Xinhua -- Colombian President Alvaro Uribe met with French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday to discuss the release of hostages held by Colombia's rebel group -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in New York, news reaching here from the UN headquarters said.

Uribe told reporters that Sarkozy had thanked him for freeing Rodrigo Granda, known as FARC's foreign minister, at France's request, during their meeting at the sidelines of the 62nd United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Worldwide routes test ensures superjumbo is ready for service

by Bill Gleeson, Liverpool Daily Post

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

AN AIRBUS A380 test superjumbo is today due to fly to Bogota, Colombia, at the start of a series of flights as part of its technical route proving.

Colombian leader urges trade deal OK

By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia - With a controversial trade deal with the U.S. at risk, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday rejected charges from congressional Democrats that his government has done too little to combat routine killings of union leaders.

"The murder rate for this specific group is far below the murder rate for the average (person) in Colombia," Uribe insisted in an interview with USA TODAY.

Commerce secretary: Don't punish Colombia

By Pablo Bachelet, Miami Herald

Monday, September 24, 2007

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez took aim Thursday at Democratic lawmakers who have stalled a free-trade agreement with Colombia, calling it the ``biggest foreign policy mistake that we could make in Latin America in our time.''

Gutierrez, a Cuban American who rose from driving a cereal delivery truck in Mexico City to CEO of the Kellogg Co., was the inaugural speaker at The Miami Herald Americas Conference taking place at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Thursday and Friday.

Conn. Woman Travels To Colombia Over Hostage Standoff

The Associated Press

Monday, September 24, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Relatives of three U.S. defense contractors being held by Colombian rebels are traveling to Venezuela to urge President Hugo Chavez to work for their loved ones' release.

The purpose of Tuesday's planned meeting in Caracas, confirmed to The Associated Press by several family members, is to assure that Americans are part of any prisoner swap that Chavez might negotiate between Colombia's government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Colombia extradites 13 citizens to U.S.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Colombia's government on Sunday handed over 13 citizens wanted by the United States on drug trafficking and money laundering charges to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), police told Colombian Radio Network (Caracol).

Colombia's Judicial Police transferred the prisoners from the Anti-Narcotics Police base in Bogota's Catam military base, to DEA agents who had been waiting since Saturday night.

Colombia: Hundreds of indigenous Awá fleeing fighting in Nariño

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Friday, September 21, 2007

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 21 September 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

More than 1,000 members of an indigenous group have taken refuge in a school to escape combat on their territory in the south of Colombia. Hundreds of Awá people fled their land near the town of Tumaco on the Pacific Coast when fighting started Tuesday morning between the army and an irregular armed group. As of yesterday (Thursday), a total of 1,018 people had gathered in the school of the small village of Inda Sabaleta, some 25 minutes by road from their communities, and were waiting to be able to return home.

FARC agrees to meet Venezuelan president on prisoner swap with Colombia

Thursday, September 20, 2007

BOGOTA, (Xinhua) -- Colombia's largest anti-government group agreed to meet Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela next month for talks on a possible prisoner swap with the Colombian government, a negotiator told local media on Wednesday.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government have agreed that Chavez, a mediator in the prisoner issue, is scheduled to meet a FARC leader on Oct. 8, said Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, who met Chavez on Tuesday night and with the rebels last week.

Brazil offering Venezuela's Chavez use of its territory for Colombia mediation effort

The Associated Press

Thursday, September 20, 2007

MANAUS, Brazil: Brazil is offering its support - and its neutral territory - to help Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez mediate a prisoner exchange between the Colombian government and that country's leftist rebels.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to offer Chavez the use of Brazilian territory when the two presidents meet in the Amazon city of Manaus on Thursday.

Medellin Wonders What Pelosi, Sweeney are Smoking

By Amity Shlaes

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is there a town in the world with a reputation worse than Medellin's?

(Bloomberg) -- Colombia's second-biggest city has a rep so bad that it has almost become a parody of itself. In the HBO series ``Entourage,'' the characters are obsessed with capturing the evil of Pablo Escobar in a film called ``Medellin,'' chronicling his rise to head the drug cartel that ruled the city.

To most U.S. citizens those three syllables are code for all that is wrong with Latin America -- the lawlessness, the drugs, the delusion that a network of thugs substitutes for a real economy.

Colombia angered by US settlement with Chiquita Brands

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bogota - Colombian officials Tuesday expressed anger at a 25-million-dollar settlement between the United States Justice Department and multinational Chiquita Brands for payments the banana producer made to paramilitaries.

US District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday approved the deal agreed to in March under which Chiquita will pay 25 million dollars for having made payments to paramilitaries for nearly six years to obtain protection for its employees in Colombia.

Colombia rebels demand demilitarized zone for hostage swap: Chavez

AFP

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CARACAS - Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez speaks during a TV broadcast on 16 Sep, in Anaco, state of Anzoategui. Chavez, who is acting as a mediator in Colombia's hostage crisis, said Tuesday that leftist rebels insist that the Colombian government create a demilitarized zone for a prisoner swap.

Colombian lawyer clad in scuba gear protests ocean prison cell for warlord

The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: Wearing scuba fins, a snorkel and a diving mask, a lawyer for a feared paramilitary warlord walked into Colombia's prison agency Tuesday to protest its decision to send his client to an oceangoing jail cell.

2 held in slaying of Colombian reporter

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Friday, September 14, 2007

Local politicians are arrested in the 2003 death of Jose Emeterio Rivas, who had accused local officials of ties to paramilitaries.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- -- Colombian authorities on Thursday arrested two local politicians in connection with the April 2003 killing of Jose Emeterio Rivas, a radio reporter who had denounced links between local government and paramilitary groups.

The arrests in the northern city of Barrancabermeja were welcomed by rights groups that have long complained of official impunity in Colombia. Last March, the Inter American Press Assn. slammed the Colombian government for suspending investigations into the slayings of five journalists.

Bogota rejects Chavez’s offer on mediate

AFP

Friday, September 14, 2007

MADRID • Colombia's foreign minister yesterday rejected an offer by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to come to the country and mediate a possible release of hostages held by leftist rebels there.

"The Colombian government will not accept the Venezuelan president coming to Colombia" to mediate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Fernando Araujo said during a visit to Madrid.

Diary secrets of Dutch woman fighting for FARC

Jeremy McDermott, The Scotsman
In Medellin

Thursday, September 13, 2007

COLOMBIAN forces have captured the intimate diary of a Dutch woman who joined the country's Marxist rebels, in which she gives a rare view of life with the guerrillas deep in the jungle.

In July, elite troops swept into the camp of a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), known by the alias of Carlos Antonio Lozada.

He was wounded in the firefight and carried off by bodyguards, while women in the unit, who were bathing at the time, had to flee into the jungle in their underwear.

Colombia blasts U.S. for judicial injustice on Chiquita issue

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BOGOTA, (Xinhua) -- Colombian Interior Minister Carlos Holguin blasted the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday for protecting an American banana giant illegally involved with the rebel group -- the Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Holguin responded one day after the U.S. Justice Department said it would not prosecute ten Chiquita Brands International executives involved in an illegal deal with the AUC and urged Colombia to settle the issue by a fine of 25million U.S. dollars.

New U.S. ambassador takes up Colombia post, shadowed by rocky tenure in Venezuela

The Associated Press

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: The new U.S. ambassador to Colombia assumed his post amid concerns Washington is neglecting its staunchest ally in the region and questions about the role of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in a proposed hostage swap.

Ambassador William Brownfield appointment Wednesday as the top U.S. diplomat in Colombia follows three years as ambassador to Venezuela, a tenure marked by growing hostility between the two governments.

Forensic team says Colombian lawmaker hostages killed by multiple gunshot wounds

The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CALI, Colombia: All 11 Colombian lawmakers killed while being held by leftist rebels died of multiple gunshot wounds, a team of international forensic experts investigating their causes of death said Tuesday.

But authorities said it could still take months before they are able to sort out conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the hostages' deaths.

"We've informed the families that the cause of death in every case was multiple gunshot wounds," said James Young, the Canadian head of the international forensic team overseen by the Organization of American States. He said bullet wounds were found to the legs, arms, stomach and chest — and in two cases to the head.

Venezuela: France's Sarkozy backs Chavez in hostage-for-rebel negotiations

The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is standing by Hugo Chavez as the Venezuelan leader attempts to negotiate the liberation of hostages held by Colombia's largest rebel group, Venezuela's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

In a statement, the ministry said Sarkozy "ratified his support for the role that President Chavez has been playing in the pursuit of a humanitarian exchange in Colombia" during a telephone conversation with the Venezuelan leader.

Colombia arrests alleged drug lord

From the Associated Press

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- -- Soldiers swarmed onto a farm before dawn Monday and captured Diego Montoya, an alleged leader of a cartel accused of shipping hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States since the 1990s.

Montoya, 49, sits on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list with a $5-million reward for his capture. The Norte del Valle cartel is deemed Colombia's most dangerous drug gang, and Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told a news conference at Bogota's airport that Montoya was responsible for 1,500 killings.

HIGH LEVEL JUSTICE OFFICIALS FROM THE HEMISPHERE TO MEET IN COLOMBIA

Press Release, Organization of American States

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

High level justice authorities from the hemisphere will meet September 12 to 14 in Bogotá, Colombia, to further their cooperation in areas such as extradition and strengthening mutual assistance in criminal matters in the region.

Colombia: ICRC returns Assembly
members’ bodies to families

Monday, September 10, 2007

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland

ICRCReuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Geneva/Bogotá (ICRC) – Yesterday, 09 September 2007, the ICRC transported the bodies of 11 persons to Cali. They were handed over to forensics authorities in the presence of the families of the members of the Valle del Cauca Assembly.

The ICRC once again emphasizes how important it was for the families to receive the bodies.

Strong quake hits Colombia's coast

nine msn

Monday, September 10, 2007

A strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit near the Pacific coast of Colombia on Sunday, but local authorities said there were no immediate reports of serious damage.

Officials in coastal Narino province said they had no news of damaged buildings or injuries, but they were continuing to contact remote rural areas. Residents told local radio the shock knocked out electricity in some areas.


Canada in the News


Khadr matriarch to “break silence” on Canadian television tonight

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Monday, October 29, 2007

It will be painful news for Tabitha Speer today when she learns that the man charged with killing her husband, in the words of his mother “never killed anybody”.

Toronto-born Omar Khadr, the only western citizen detained by the U.S. military in Guantanamo prison, was charged with killing Sergeant 1st Class Christopher J. Speer in Afghanistan in 2002. The same grenade Khadr allegedly lobbed during the firefight that cost medic Speer his life, blinded Sgt. 1st Class and Special Forces Engineer Layne Morris in his right eye.

Welcome to the return of the Cold War, Global Warming style

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper should send a map of Canada to Foreign Minister Fran-Walter Steinmeier of Germany--tout suite, as they say in La Belle Province.

Predicting a new Cold War, Steinmeier claims that climate change is a growing threat to world peace and has now led to “rival territorial claims in the Arctic.”

Nepotism returns to United Nations

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Qualifiers bound to get you a “jammy job” at the high-handed, diplomatic immunity protected United Nations? Other than being a bureaucrat down to the core, it helps if you are mealy-mouthed, politically correct and good at hiding when challenging times demand decisions. Think Kofi Annan in Rwanda.

Well, as the French would say, the more things change the more things remain the same at the world’s largest bureaucracy.

Islamberg, British style

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Radical Muslim paramilitary compounds discovered overseas:

The North American radical Islamist compounds exposed by The Day of Islam author Paul L. Williams and Northeast Intelligence Network director Doug Hagmann also exist in Britain.

In the United States, Muslims of the Americas Inc., a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who refers to himself as “the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr”, operates dozens of radical Islamic compounds, which flourish in out-of-the-way rural areas.

Happy Columbus Day: Muslims discovered America

By Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press

Thursday, October 11, 2007

North America may be reviled as ‘the Land of the Infidels’, but according to Muslim Imam, al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, it is the Muslims and not the seafaring Columbus who discovered it.

This tops the whopper category edging out Islam claims that Moses was not a Jew but the first Muslim.

CODEPINK antiwar protesters purple with rage to be banned from Canada

By Judi McLeod

Thursday, October 4, 2007

There was no welcome mat waiting n Canada for CODEPINK, the shrill arm of the latter day antiwar contingent, when they arrived for a visit yesterday, and it was all the fault of President George W. Bush.

..."CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired US Army Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright were denied entry into Canada today (Wednesday, October 3, dandelionsalad.wordpress).

Movie Young People F*!@king funded with government dollars

By Judi McLeod

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The lofty goal of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is "to transform the way people see the world." The vision of the charitable, not-for-profit, cultural organization is "to lead the world in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image".

Transforming the way young people see the world could have been the TIFF's 2007 slogan.

One of the films premiered at this month's Toronto Film Festival was Young People F*!@king, produced by Copperheart Entertainment.

A bitter anniversary

By Klaus Rohrich

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 TributeIt was a crisp, sunny Tuesday morning, not unlike today, when at 8:46 AM the first plane crashed into the north tower of New York's World Trade Centre, forever changing our world. Truth is, our world had changed many years previous to that fateful day, but culturally we were incapable of recognizing the change. To this day people are still looking for "root causes" for the hatred that fundamental Islam bears toward the West.

While the ability to turn the other cheek is an admirable one, there is also a time to draw a line in the sand and stand one's ground. That line should have been drawn six years ago today at 8:46 AM.

How Osama bin Laden Escaped death 4 times after 9/11

By Hamid Mir

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hamid Mir and Osama bin Laden

(Editor's Note: Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir is perhaps the only journalist who knows Osama bin Laden and still has a sort of secret contact with him through proxies. Journalist David Dastych, Hamid Mir's friend in Poland, received this unpublished article from the author yesterday and presented the timely analysis of Osama bin Laden exclusively to our readers).

Islamabad, Pakistan One man changed the world on 9/11 six years ago. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that he won't change it more with other attacks similar to the world-altering 9/11. The world's only superpower has declared him their most dangerous enemy, and he as been wanted by the superpower for more than a decade. But the truth is that Osama bin Laden, the World's Most Wanted Man, has been lucky enough to have escaped death four times in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

Osama bin Doppleganger?

By Judi McLeod

Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama Bin Laden

OBL video: Click here

Could this be two different people?

"The eyes and eyebrows have different slants. The beard appears to be either fuller or is growing from higher up on his cheeks in the "Newer" picture of the "Older" bin laden", says Canada Free Press reader Mark King, of Texas.

Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official and now an ABC news consultant said "If we go back to the tape three years, he had a very white beard. This looks like a phony beard that has been passed on."

Coming to a television screen near you: Blackbeard bin Laden

By Judi McLeod

Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama Bin LadenWhat do Osama bin Laden and
Paris Hilton have in common?

Both show genius in hijacking the attention of the mainstream media.

Like pinstripe-suited advance men sending out a press release signaling a politician's major policy statement, "al Qaida's media arm" is on the job. Coming down the pike is the imminent release of Osama bin Laden's latest video message to the West.

Bin Laden, who has not appeared in video footage since October 2004, is not only alive and kicking, he's beefed up his personal appearance.

To the West, bin Laden is the terror mastermind behind September 11, 2001. To al Qaida PR flaks, he's "the lion sheik Osama bin Laden".

Moonbats can't kill off angels

By Judi McLeod

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Melanie MorganLeave it to the Moonbats to go off and shoot themselves in both feet even before ever arriving in Washington, D.C. for their self-touted "Mother of All Protests" on September 15th.

But that's precisely what the Moonbats in Hippies Incorporated did when they threatened to kill Move America Forward leader and popular radio show host Melanie Morgan.

"Eagles! Don't let these people interfere with Melanie and her Move America Forward Caravan!" wrote Kit Lange on the Gathering of Eagles homepage. "It has come to our attention that our good friends at Move America Forward are being targeted by the anti-American left. It is not enough that these ultra-liberal forces think it fine to disparage our men and women in uniform. They are now targeting our supporters as they make their way to stand with us in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15."

Only one slogan matters

By Judi McLeod

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This September differs from most others.

The leaves begin to turn, youngsters are back in school.

But as the national and international media momentarily abandon Paris Hilton to focus on General David Petraeus' report to Congress on September 15, two forces as different as the proverbial night and day, will descend upon Washington, D.C.

Empty school desk awaits Maddie

By Judi McLeod

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Somewhere in Thurmaston, Leicestershire, England when little girls with hair held back by barrettes will be flooding kindergartens for first day at school today, little Madeleine McCann won't be among them.

Although Madeleine won't be physically there, she will be in spirit.

Pupils will be saying prayers at the school where Maddie was due to start today. A desk, coat peg and locker have been set aside for her in class Four Plus at Bishop Ellis Catholic primary school, in the hope that she will one day walk into her home classroom.

Congressman Keith Ellison to be Muslim Day Parade Grand Marshal

By Judi McLeod

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Muslim elected to congress Keith Ellison will be Grand Marshal of the 22nd Annual Muslim Day Parade, in New York City. The parade is taking place two days before the sixth consecutive anniversary of 9/11—news totally ignored by what talk show radio giant Rush Limbaugh calls the "drive-by media".

Colombia slams FARC for delay in search for bodies

By Hugh Bronstein

Friday, September 7, 2007

BOGOTA, (Reuters) - Leftist Colombian rebels have dragged out the search for corpses of 11 hostages killed in June and may be using the safe haven established for the recovery effort to regroup and plan attacks, the government said on Friday.

Hardening its stance against guerrillas still holding kidnap victims including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, the government said it will resume on Sunday military operations halted at the start of the week to allow for the search.

The European Commission provides 1 million euros to the victims of floods

welcomeurope.com

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The European Commission has allocated 1 million euros to provide assistance to the victims of the floods in Colombia. This aid will focus on covering the immediate needs of the population. It will be channelled through ECHO, the Commission humanitarian aid office.

The aid will mainly concerns food provision, access to safe water, emergency shelters and basic health care. It is aimed at the population of the most heavily damaged areas, the Córdoba department and the Mojana region, that is around 45,000 people.

Families of kidnapped Americans in Colombia seek help for kin from Venezuela's Chavez

The Associated Press

Thursday, September 6, 2007

WASHINGTON: Relatives of three U.S. contractors kidnapped by Colombian rebels more than four years ago turned Wednesday to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for help securing their loves ones' release under a swap of imprisoned rebels for hostages.

"We're very hopeful. They are working hard to include the three Americans" in the possible exchange, Lynn Stansell, whose son Keith is among the hostages, said after a meeting with Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez Herrera.

New Chapter in Drug Trade

By Juan Forero, Washington Post Foreign Service

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's cocaine trade has never been controlled by a single cast of characters.

In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar and other flamboyant cocaine cowboys, wielding billions of dollars and armies of hit men, nearly brought the state to its knees. Their deaths ushered in more discreet groups, so-called baby cartels, that outsourced trafficking and murder to gangs. Then came a paramilitary force that relied on cocaine to fund a war against Marxist rebels, a bloody phase the government says ended with the disarmament of militias last year.

Colombia kills rebel leader: defense minister

Yahoo News

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

BOGOTA (AFP) - Colombia's defense minister said on Monday army troops have killed a senior rebel figure wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said Tomas Medina, a commander in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was killed in clashes on Saturday.

Medina was considered a key figure overseeing FARC's vast drug trafficking network and Santos said his death represented a serious blow to rebel forces.

Dutch woman possibly held against her will by rebels in Colombia

earthtimes.org

Monday, September 3, 2007

Amsterdam - A young Dutch woman is being held by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in Colombia against her will, unconfirmed reports said Monday. A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unable Monday morning to confirm reports in the Colombian daily El Tiempo from Sunday that it had got hold of the young woman's diary.

The Colombian Army told El Tiempo several young women were bathing when it attacked a FARC hideout. According to military reports, everyone in the camp fled when the attack began, including the women.

Colombia's Newest Park Protects Rare Wildlife, Indigenous Peoples

Sunday, September 2, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia (ENS) - The government of Colombia has created a new national park for the protection of one of the greatest areas of biodiversity in the country, inhabited by such rare and endangered animals as the Andean bear, jaguar, puma and tapir.

Venezuela, Colombia Work on Peace Agreement

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Caracas (Prensa Latina) Venezuela is today the prospect core of a peace agreement in Colombia, after President Hugo Chavez assumed the responsibility of acting as the facilitator of a humanitarian agreement, which is complicated but promising.

The U.S. government and a tragedy at a Colombian coal mine.

By Ken Stier, The New Republic

Friday, August 31, 2007

On March 12, 2001, the night two labor leaders representing miners at the Drummond Coal Company's huge La Loma mine in Colombia were executed by paramilitaries, Daniel M. Kovalik, a senior lawyer for the United Steel Workers, was in Bogot‡ meeting with other unionists. After the facts trickled into the capital--pointing to possible complicity on the part of the Alabama-based firm--Kovalik visited the U.S. Embassy, where he was informed by the State Department official charged with human rights, that investigating the activities of U.S. companies was not part of her brief. Maybe it should be.

Venezuela's Chavez arrives in Colombia to broker hostage for rebel

The Associated Press

Friday, August 31, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez entered Colombia's bitter hostage standoff Friday, seeking to broker a deal between the government and leftist guerrillas to free hostages including politician Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors.

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico: Latin America Bond, Currency Preview

By Adriana Brasileiro

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The following events and economic reports may influence trading in Latin American local bonds and currencies today. Bond yields and exchange rates are from the previous session.

Human Rights Organizations Express Support for Colombian Court Ruling that Orders Protection for Victims in Justice and Peace Proceedings

Amnesty International Usa

Thursday, August 30, 2007

(Washington, D.C.) -- Human rights organizations expressed satisfaction today with a court ruling ordering the Colombian government to provide protection for victims and witnesses who participate in judicial proceedings against demobilized paramilitaries in that country.

Colombia to seek Israeli's extradition

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yair Klein, arrested in Russia, has been convicted of training paramilitary groups in terrorism.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- The Colombian government will seek the extradition of a former Israeli army commando arrested Monday in Moscow on charges stemming from his alleged private training of Colombian paramilitary groups in the 1980s, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

The arrest of Yair Klein by Russian police followed a tip from Colombian authorities, Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo told reporters. The Russians arrested Klein, 61, on an international warrant. Klein had been traveling with a false passport, the Reuters news agency reported.

Small frog found in very small area of Colombia

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- A small frog with poisonous skin that lives only within a 50-acre area has been discovered in Colombia's remote mountainous Cundinamarca region.

The new frog, which measures almost 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) in length and has yellowish skin, was named the "golden frog of Supatá."

BLIND LAWYER, A DEFENDER OF HUMAN RIGHTS, IS BEATEN UP, DRAGGED, AND JAILED ALONG WITH OTHER ACTIVISTS

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Sunday, August 27, 2007, at 5:30 PM, I was arrested and beaten by several military personnel of the Penal Ward of Amalia Simoni Provincial Hospital of Camagüey and by policemen and State Security officials. Independent journalist, Luis Esteban Espinosa Echemendía, and Eisy Marrero Marrero, a member of the Cuban Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs, were also arrested and physically attacked.

Israeli citizen wanted by Colombia arrested in Moscow

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MOSCOW, August 28 (Itar-Tass) -- An Israeli citizen, wanted by the Colombian law enforcements agencies on charges of terrorism for eight years, has been arrested at the Domodedovo airport of Moscow, a representative of the press service of the department for organised crime and terrorism control of the Russian Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

According to his information, the arrest was carried out by officers of the department jointly with men of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the Russian office of Interpol and the Moscow Criminal Police.

Oil companies behind violence in Colombia

By Deirdre Griswold

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bogotá, Colombia. In April a year ago, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal began a series of investigations into the role of transnational corporations behind human rights violations in Colombia.

Its first three hearings, which took place in different Colombian cities, focused on (1) how foreign-owned agribusinesses have affected the farmers and the Indigenous peoples; (2) the role of the mining companies, and (3) the impact of transnational-controlled development on biodiversity and the environment.

Bogota Mayors from the past

By Jamais Cascio, Worldchanging.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bogotá Experiment
READ THIS AMAZING INSPIRING STORY
March 25, 2004 Issue
Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson

Bogotá, Colombia, circa 1995, was a city "choked with violence, lawless traffic, corruption, and gangs of street children who mugged and stole. It was a city perceived by some to be on the verge of chaos." Enter Antanas Mockus, an eccentric mathematician and philosopher with no political experience just resigned from a top tier professorship at Colombian National University. Looking for a challenge, he finds it in politics, or, as he describes it, being in charge of "a 6.5 million person classroom." Colombians desperate for change and for a moral leader elect him as mayor, thus beginning an uplifting chapter of Colombian history marked by innovative creative leadership and inspired social change.

The Democrats Move Colombia

By Robert D. Novak, Washington Post

Monday, August 27, 2007

The forced resignation two weeks ago, under pressure from President Alvaro Uribe, of three prominent officers accused of drug trafficking is not likely to end the shakeup in Colombia's army and navy. More heads will roll in a long-overdue purge of corruption in the military. The credit has to go to the left-wing members of Congress who have taken over the Colombian account on Capitol Hill since the Democratic victory in the 2006 elections.

Colombia seizes private island and US$400 million in drug lord's properties

The Associated Press

Monday, August 27, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia: Colombia said Monday it has seized a private Caribbean island and hundreds of other properties allegedly used by powerful cocaine trafficker Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia to launder millions of dollars in drug profits.

Colombia checks admiral for drug ties

By Bridget Whelan, Business Week

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia - A high-ranking navy officer is being investigated for alleged ties to drug traffickers and has been removed from his post, in a widening probe into connections between Colombia's military and drug trafficking.

Colombia's minister of defense said Monday that Rear Admiral Gabriel Arango, who served along Colombia's Caribbean coast, is the latest in a series of military officers fired for alleged ties to this South American country's vast cocaine industry.

Will a “Plan Mexico” be the New “Plan Colombia”?t

By Allan Wall

Monday, August 13, 2007

Current negotiations between the United States and Mexican governments may lead to a major U.S. aid package for Mexico in its war against the drug cartels. In fact, it may amount to a Mexican version of “Plan Colombia.”

Plan Colombia is the ongoing U.S. government aid program to Colombia in its war on drugs, begun while Clinton was still president.

Blood gold in Bogota

By Sibylla Brodzinsky

Monday, August 13, 2007

The British mining giant Anglo American has been accused of profiting from the persecution, intimidation and killing of miners in Colombia who oppose the company’s operations.

The international charity War on Want says in a report released this week that Anglo American and its subsidiaries benefited from army operations in areas where the company is prospecting, which have forced families off their land and intimidated community leaders. It is part of a “pattern of global abuse” in countries where Anglo American operates, it says.

Brazilian police refuse $5 mln reward for Colombian druglord arrest

Saturday, August 11, 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian federal police on Friday turned down a five-million-dollar reward offered by the U.S. government for the capture of the Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia.

Ramirez, leader of Colombia's biggest cocaine cartel -- North of the Valley Cartel, was arrested Tuesday by Brazilian police and is being held in custody in Sao Paulo.

Colombia signs free trade agreement with 3 Central American countries

The Associated Press

Friday, August 10, 2007

MEDELLIN, Colombia: Colombia signed a free trade agreement Thursday with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that could double exports to the Central American countries in five years.

The agreement was signed by the four nations' presidents in the northwestern city of Medellin, considered Colombia's industrial heartland.

The accord "makes economic, social and political sense," Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said in a speech after signing the agreement. "Colombia sees this becoming a bridge between Central and South America."

Gangland

Sloweb

Friday, August 10, 2007

At a United Nations forum on Wednesday, Colombian tribal leaders reported that, in order to protect and control lucrative cocaine-smuggling routes, new criminal gangs of former militia fighters are surrounding indigenous tribes and cutting them off from food supplies.

According to Luis Andrade, president of ONIC (OrganizaciÛn Nacional IndÌgena de Colombia), the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, about 12,000 tribe members throughout the country have been locked in their villages by paramilitary groups.

Uribe Can't Escape Death Squad Scrutiny as Tourism Thrives

By Helen Murphy

Thursday, August 9, 2007

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- The three-car train pulls past miles of lush banana plantations into the Colombian town of Aracataca after a 55-mile (89-kilometer) trip inland from the Caribbean coastal city of Santa Marta. Remote Aracataca is the birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez and was fictionalized as Macondo in his novel ``One Hundred Years of Solitude.''

The train, which will start making regular runs in 2008, is Colombia's latest effort to attract tourists to a country plagued by more than four decades of drug-funded violence and kidnappings. Garcia Marquez himself, 80, was aboard for this test run in June. His boyhood home is being refurbished like that of the novel's Buendia family and will be opened to the public.

Colombian drug lord suspect willing to go to U.S

By Angus MacSwan

Thursday, August 9, 2007

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Colombian man who authorities say is one of Latin America's biggest drug traffickers wants to be extradited to the United States from a Brazilian jail and is willing to cooperate with U.S. anti-drug agents, his lawyer says.

Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia was grabbed in a dawn police raid on Tuesday and is being held in custody in Sao Paulo pending the processing of an extradition request.

Brazilian and U.S. authorities say he is responsible for shipping thousands of tonnes of cocaine to the United States and Europe. He also oversaw a business empire that laundered the profits in Brazil, long a favorite hiding spot for fugitives.

Colombia Peso Rises Most in Month as U.S. Economy Concerns Ease

By Andrea Jaramillo

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia's peso rose the most in a month after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy, the biggest buyer of the South American country's exports, will keep expanding even as subprime market losses mount. Local bonds also gained.

``We're seeing a general appetite for riskier assets from emerging markets today,'' said Cesar Tovar, an analyst at Stanford Financial Group's unit in Bogota. Colombian markets were closed yesterday for a national holiday.

Colombia Navy Seizes Sub in Coke Probe

The Associated Press

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's navy seized a 65-foot submarine that likely was used to haul tons of cocaine on part of its journey to the United States, officials said Tuesday.

No drugs were found or arrests made when the fiberglass submarine was discovered Sunday in a swampy mangrove about six miles off the northernmost point of Colombia's Caribbean coast.

The blue-colored, diesel-powered vessel had sophisticated communications systems and was capable of carrying up to 11 tons of cocaine, Rear Admiral

New Initiatives for Accord in Colombia

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bogota, Aug 6 (Prensa Latina) Despite President Alvaro Uribe's refusal to dialogue with the guerrillas, Professor Gustavo Moncayo, leader of the campaign to free the prisoners in Colombia, announced new initiatives in that direction.

The so-called Walker for Peace told reporters this weekend that he was interested in creating two permanent commissions to generate alternatives to be presented to Uribe.

One of the commissions would be made up of representatives of the Catholic Church, governors and mayors, and the other one would be composed of relatives of the hostages.

Treasury may build €1bn 'green city' in Bogota

From The Irish Independent

Sunday, August 5, 2007

THE vast property empire of Ireland's largest developer, Treasury Holdings, owned by Richard Barrett and Johnny Ronan, could soon include South America, following an approach by city planners in Bogota to build a €1bn green city there.

Drug cartels and crime are now less of a problem than the Colombian capital's growing carbon footprint caused by greenhouse gases from 140,000 people moving there each year from the surrounding area, according to the World Resources Institute, a Washington thinktank.

Spain's Planeta Buys Majority Stake in Colombia's El Tiempo

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

Friday, August 3, 2007

Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Grupo Planeta SA, a Spanish publishing group, bought a controlling stake in Colombian media group Casa Editorial El Tiempo for an undisclosed sum to expand in Latin America's second-fastest growing economy.

Planeta acquired 55 percent of Casa Editorial, owner of Colombia's biggest newspaper and a TV channel covering capital Bogota's metropolitan area, the El Tiempo newspaper said in an editorial today. Planeta, based in Barcelona, Spain, and the Santos family, who owned the group since El Tiempo was founded in 1911, will set up a board of founders to preserve the independence of editorial content, the newspaper said.

Gran Tierra Energy Announces Farmout of Acreage in Colombia

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Initiates Planning for 2008 Exploration Drilling Program

CALGARY, CANADA, August 1 /CNW/ - Gran Tierra Energy Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: GTRE), a company focused on oil exploration and production in South America, today announced that it has farmed out 50% of its 80% interest in the Azar Block in the Putumayo Basin of Colombia. Gran Tierra Energy will retain a 40% interest in the Azar Block and will retain Operatorship. Under the terms of the farmout, Gran Tierra Energy's share of costs for its retained 40% interest in work commitments in the first three exploration phases will be carried by the new partner. The farmout arrangement creates for Gran Tierra Energy a more attractive capital risk/reward profile for this prospective asset, and positions the company for additional drilling in 2008 with an experienced partner to complement emerging development plans related to two recent oil discoveries in Colombia.

Colombian on trek to free kidnapped son

By Abigail Curtis, Associated Press Writer

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

SUBIA, Colombia --A 55-year-old teacher whose soldier son was kidnapped in a rebel attack a decade ago neared the capital Tuesday after walking across half of Colombia to rally support for a prisoner swap.

Gustavo Moncayo has become a fixture on the national news since setting out on his cross-country crusade six weeks ago with chains draped symbolically over his shoulder, enduring persistent foot problems and the blistering sun.

Colombia learns from strife

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Armored vehicles and security expertise gained in its civil war are in demand abroad, especially in Iraq.

BOGOTA, Colombia — Security is big business in Colombia, where a four-decade civil war has spawned a cottage industry of manufacturers and service firms whose mission is to keep their clients alive.

Firms such as armored car manufacturer Blindex and armored clothing maker Miguel Caballero, both based in Bogota, have even earned international renown. With security improving since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002 -- murders and kidnappings are down -- demand has been declining at home. But export sales are making up the difference. And the U.S. government is a big client.

Colombia admits army infiltrated

BBC News

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Drug traffickers and guerrillas have infiltrated senior levels of the Colombian armed forces, seriously compromising their work, officials say.

Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos said the Farc rebels and the main drugs cartel had bribed officials to get information and so avoid capture.

His admission confirms the suspicions of many Colombians, correspondents say.

Colombia remains the biggest exporter of cocaine despite billions of dollars in mainly military aid from the US.

Colombia shifts policy in eradication of coca crops

By Sibylla Brodzinsky,Special to the Miami Herald

Monday, July 30, 2007

Colombia announced it will favor manual eradication of coca crops over the current system, which focuses heavily on aerial spraying.

BOGOTA --In a major policy shift likely to get both praise and close examination in Washington, Colombia has announced it will favor manual eradication of coca crops over the current system that focuses heavily on aerial fumigation.

The iconic image of Colombia's largely U.S.-funded war on drugs may well be a single-engine airplane spraying bright green fields of coca bushes with chemical defoliants -- the country's key strategy since the 1980s.

Colombian rebels agree to return hostages' bodies

Friday, July 27, 2007

BOGOTA, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Thursday agreed to hand over the bodies of the 11 hostages killed on June 18.

In a recorded message broadcast on national television FARC said it would give the bodies to a commission made up of Red Cross officials, the hostages' family members, international forensic technicians and representatives from France, Spain and Switzerland.

ACT Rapid Response Payment: Floods, Colombia

Source: Action by Churches Together (ACT) - Switzerland Elisabeth Gouel

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rapid Response Payment No. 15/2007
Funds Sent To: Lutheran World Federation / Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe
Amount Sent: US$ 50,000
Date: 25 July 2007
Details of Payment
Emergency: Flooding in Arauca and Cordoba departments, Colombia
Date of Emergency: 13 July 2007

Implementing Partner: The Lutheran World Federation- Department for World Service (LWF/DWS) and the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights will implement the project in Arauca. Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH) and their partner Benposta will implement the project in Cordoba.

Details of the Emergency: Heavy rains began three months ago. On 9 July, water raised to its highest level causing river banks to burst in different regions. To date, some 600,000 Colombians in 247 municipalities and 27 departments have been affected by the inundations. ACT members LWF/DWS and DKH have investigated damages in two departments, in Cordoba in the north of the country and Arauca in the east at the Venezuelan border.

French mission sought Betancourt release in Colombia: Sarkozy

AFP

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We have some elements, but we want some real proof of life.

TRIPOLI (AFP) - France recently sent a mission to Colombia to try to secure the release of the Franco-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, President Nicolas Sarkozy said during a visit to Libya.

"We sent people to negotiate, two people," the French president told reporters late Wednesday on the sidelines of his talks with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Sarkozy said the mission, sent after he took over as president mid-May, returned without formal proof that Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate kidnapped by Colombian rebels in February 2002, was still alive.

Rights group condemns Colombian rebels' use of land mines

By BY Pablo Bachelet, MiamiHerald

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Colombia's leftist guerrillas have stepped up their use of land mines in recent years, maiming or killing hundreds of civilians, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

José Miguel Vivanco, the group's Americas director, said land mines were on the wane around the globe, with only the governments of Russia, Burma and Nepal refusing to ban their use.

But the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish initials as FARC, have been ''increasing the use of land mines with a devastating effect on civilians,'' Vivanco said at a news briefing unveiling the 34-page report.

Details of Colombia payoffs, U.S. plea agreement sought

By Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Service

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Congressional investigators want to know more about Chiquita's payments to violent groups and the handling of the subsequent federal investigation.

WASHINGTON -- As part of an inquiry into corporate payments to violent groups in Colombia, some members of Congress want more details about the U.S. Justice Department's handling of the Chiquita Brands International Inc. case, including whether the department was too lenient and why it took four years to file criminal charges after the banana company admitted to making payoffs.

In its plea agreement in March, Chiquita acknowledged that senior executives knew about the payments by September 2000 or earlier, and that they continued to make them until February 2004 -- nearly a year after its own lawyers and the Justice Department told them to stop.

Bogotá's urban happiness movement

Globe and Mail

Monday, July 23, 2007

From living hell to living well: A radical campaign to return streets from cars to people in Colombia's largest city is now a model for the world

On a clear, cloudless afternoon, Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, leaves his office early in order to pick up his 10-year-old son from school. As usual, he wears his black leather shoes and pinstriped trousers. As usual, he is joined by his two pistol-packing bodyguards. And, as usual, he travels not in the armoured SUV typical of most public figures in Colombia, but on a knobby-tired mountain bike.

Mr. Peñalosa pedals through the streets of Santa Bárbara in Bogotá's well-to-do north side. He jumps curbs and potholes, riding one-handed, weaving across the pavement, barking into his cellphone with barely a thought for the city's notoriously aggressive drivers.

UN human rights arm condemns murder of officials in Colombia

UN news Centre

Friday, July 13, 2007

12 July 2007 - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today condemned a spate of rebel murders of local politicians in different parts of Colombia.

A statement released by OHCHR cited information it received indicating that Blanca Inés Marà≠n, the Mayor of San José del Palmar, was killed on 6 July and her body was thrown into an abyss. The following day, the politician Antonio Colorado, from Valle, was murdered as he left the headquarters of Radical Change, a political party. Three days later, on 10 July, Argemiro Medina and Ofelia Betancur, both council members in Doncello, were killed in their homes.

Colombians lead MLS to victory over Celtics

By Eddie Pells, The Associated Press

Friday, July 20, 2007

MLS All-Stars 2, Celtic FC 0 COMMERCE CITY, Colo.

While David Beckham is the headliner, players like Juan Pablo Angel and Juan Toja could be every bit as important to the future of soccer in America.

The two Colombians, who came to the States this season to play in the MLS, each scored goals Thursday night to lift the MLS All-Stars to a 2-0 victory over Celtic FC.

Real Salt Lake defenseman Eddie Pope was a substitute for the All-Stars and played the last 7 minutes of the game.

Beckham watched from the commissioner's suite and made a brief appearance on the field between halves. During a halftime interview, he said his much-anticipated debut Saturday with the Los Angeles Galaxy could be delayed by a nagging left ankle injury that has been slow in healing.

Soler Hernandez claims Alpine win

BBC NEWS

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Colombian Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez claimed stage nine of the Tour de France on a brutal day in the Alps.

The Barloworld rider went over the top of the out-of-category Col du Galibier on his own and held on to his advantage on the flying 32km descent to Briancon.

But the chasers, including race leader Michael Rasmussen, crossed the line just 38 seconds back.

The Dane finished with most of his major rivals, but Alexandre Vinokourov lost more time on the yellow jersey.

The Astana rider, the pre-race favourite, struggled home in a group three minutes and 24 seconds behind Soler Hernandez.

And while the 24-year-old Soler Hernandez described his victory on the 159.5km route across some of race's fabled summits as a "dream", Vinokourov crossed the line in tears.

Return of the Idiot

ALVARO VARGAS LLOSA, National Post 2007-07-17

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ten years ago, the Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, the Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner and I wrote Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, a book criticizing opinion and political leaders who clung to ill-conceived political myths despite evidence to the contrary. The "Idiot" species, we suggested, bore responsibility for Latin America's underdevelopment. Its beliefs - revolution, economic nationalism, hatred of the United States, faith in the government as an agent of social justice, a passion for strongman rule over the rule of law - derived, in our opinion, from an inferiority complex. In the late 1990s, it seemed as if the Idiot were finally retreating. But the retreat was shortlived. Today, the species is back in force, in the form of populist heads of state who are re-enacting the failed policies of the past, opinion leaders from around the world who are lending new credence to them, and supporters who are giving new life to ideas that seemed extinct.

Bring Colombia free trade deal to Parliament

Monday, July 16, 2007

Canada-Colombia free trade ignores serious human rights concerns

OTTAWA - Canada risks exporting more Canadian manufacturing jobs to Colombia under a free trade deal says Jack Layton, leader of Canada's NDP. The NDP is demanding Harper bring the deal before Parliament for a debate and a vote. Layton says his party wants to closely examine the agreement and insert conditions relating to human rights.

"Stephen Harper requires the support of Parliament before signing another Bush-style free trade deal. Multinational oil, gas and mining companies want this deal to lower the bottom line, and we will not let that happen at the expense of Canadian jobs," said Layton. "The NDP will not support this free trade deal because it will aggravate the manufacturing jobs crisis here in Canada, does not incorporate fairness for Canadian exporters and does not insist upon high standards of corporate accountability."

UN human rights arm condemns murder of officials in Colombia

UN news Centre

Friday, July 13, 2007

12 July 2007 - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today condemned a spate of rebel murders of local politicians in different parts of Colombia.

A statement released by OHCHR cited information it received indicating that Blanca Inés Marý≠n, the Mayor of San José del Palmar, was killed on 6 July and her body was thrown into an abyss. The following day, the politician Antonio Colorado, from Valle, was murdered as he left the headquarters of Radical Change, a political party. Three days later, on 10 July, Argemiro Medina and Ofelia Betancur, both council members in Doncello, were killed in their homes.

Assassins still targeting Colombian unionists

By Steven Dudley, sdudley@MiamiHerald.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

Even as Colombia's war death toll drops, attacks on labor union leaders have not subsided.

LA JAGUA, Colombia --The second time gunmen came to kill labor union leader Alberto Bautista was early July 5, just as he was stepping out of his outhouse to get ready for work.

The shooter missed, punching an inch-wide hole into the brick outhouse and sending Bautista, 39, diving for cover. The shooter's weapon jammed, Bautista said, and he ran off. Bautista called the police, whose headquarters are about 30 feet from his house across a grassy field.

''That's why I moved here,'' he told The Miami Herald hours later, pointing to the police station. "It still took them nine minutes to get here.''

It was like many a day for union leaders in Colombia, the most dangerous place in the world to defend workers' rights. Amnesty International, in a report last week that quoted figures from Colombia's National Trade Union School, said that between January 1991 and December 2006, 2,245 trade unionists were killed, 3,400 threatened and 138 "disappeared.''

Drummond coal goes on trial over Colombia killings

By Verna Gates

Thursday, July 12, 2007

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - The Drummond coal company helped finance a Colombian paramilitary group that murdered three union leaders who opposed company mining policies, a plaintiffs' attorney told a U.S. court on Wednesday.

Herman Johnson was speaking at the start of a civil trial of the Alabama-based company on charges that it committed a war crime by providing support to a paramilitary group suspected of the 2001 killings.

Privately-held Drummond Company Inc. denies any connection with paramilitary groups in a case considered a landmark because it could, if successful, open the door for other parties to sue transnational companies on human rights abuses.

A Drummond lawyer called the charges "unbelievable."

Plea over Harper Colombia visit

By Allan Woods

The Star.com Ottawa Bureau

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being asked to express the country's concerns over the human rights records in Colombia and Haiti when he travels to those countries on a four-nation visit to Latin America next week.

In a news conference Wednesday morning, human rights and labour groups released an open letter to Harper asking him to raise a number of humanitarian issues when he meets with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Haitian President Rene Preval.

Colombia has been wracked by decades of fighting between left-wing guerillas and right-wing paramilitary groups. The government's fight against those groups, as well as the notorious drug cartels, has failed to bring security to the vast rural areas, and has imperiled the country's indigenous groups.

US mistrial for Colombian rebel

BBC News

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A US judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Colombian rebel leader Ricardo Palmera, after a jury could not agree on a verdict.

The Farc rebel leader was facing four charges of terrorism and hostage-taking over the kidnapping of three US contractors in Colombia in 2003.

Sent to the US in 2004, Palmera is the most senior Farc rebel yet tried there.

On Monday, Palmera was found guilty of plotting to capture the Americans, who are still being held in a jungle camp.

Sentence deal

The US Justice Department has offered Palmera a lighter sentence on Monday's conviction of conspiracy to commit hostage taking if the three Americans are released unharmed.

Palmera, known by his nom de guerre as Simon Trinidad, faces up to 30 years in prison for that conviction.

Colombian rebel guilty of holding 3 hostages

The Associated Press

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Colombian rebel leader Ricardo Palmera was convicted yesterday of helping hold three Americans hostage for years in jungle prison camps. He is the only person ever found responsible for the crime.

Palmera, who is better known by his nom de guerre, Simon Trinidad, is the most senior commander ever captured from Latin America's largest rebel group. He was extradited to the United States in 2004 and charged with hostage and terrorism charges.

Palmera is a senior member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC. The Marxist force of about 12,000 fighters has battled the Colombian government for four decades. The U.S. government considers it a terrorist organization and a drug cartel.

US Aids Colombia with Protection of Oil Pipelines

By Jim Kouri

Monday, July 9, 2007

Taft High School

Oil rivals cocaine as one of Colombia's principal exports. The Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline transports almost 20 percent of Colombia's oil production. The pipeline originates in the Department of Arauca in the northeast region of Colombia. It carries oil nearly 500 miles to the Caribbean port of Covenas. And it's the most vulnerable and desirable target in Colombia for terrorists.

With oil prices continuing to climb, oil production in South America becomes more important to American interests and the economy. The terrorists throughout the worlld know this. The Colombian pipeline has been a principal infrastructure target for terrorist attacks by Colombia's insurgent groups for many years. In just one year, attacks on the pipeline cost the Colombian government an estimated $500 million in lost revenues for the year. The United States agreed to assist Colombia in protecting the first 110 miles of the pipeline where most of the attacks were occurring.

Colombia: 1 million march to free kidnap victims

Friday, July 6, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - More than a million people marched through Colombia's major cities Thursday and drivers honked horns in unison in a mass protest to demand the immediate liberation of the country's kidnap victims.

In all, some 3,000 Colombians are being held by kidnappers, according to the anti-abduction citizens' group Pais Libre. Those being held include former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors in the hands of leftist rebels.

Thursday's protest was organized after leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said last week that 11 state lawmakers the rebels had held for more than five years were killed in a "crossfire."

Called by the government and the church, marches and "human chains" were staged at noon in different cities from the Amazon jungle outpost of Leticia to the Caribbean city of Cartagena.

Student rebuilds her life following rebel unrest

By Michael Vásquez, MySA.com

Friday, July 6, 2007

Taft High School

They came in twos by day and en masse by night.

They targeted towns and infiltrated homes.

They are called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, a rebel group in Colombia that has carried out terrorist attacks in the country since 1966.

For Sandra Palomino, 18, a senior at Clark High School, the memory of the unrest is still vivid.

Palomino's fear-fueled memories of the sad story have been tamed and can now be spoken about.

Colombia hostages in video appeal

BBC NEWS

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Colombian rebels have released a video showing seven hostages, some held for nearly a decade, pleading for the government to talk to their captors.

The video of the captured police officers and soldiers is believed to have been filmed several months ago.

It surfaced a week after rebels said 11 kidnapped politicians were killed when troops attacked a guerrilla camp.

President Alvaro Uribe, who accused the rebels of murdering the men, is to lead anti-kidnap protests on Thursday.

In the video, which was delivered to Holman Morris, the Colombia correspondent of al-Jazeera and Radio France Internationale, the hostages urge the government to talk to the rebels and not attempt a military rescue.

One of the men, soldier William Dominguez, also tells how he had shared camps with the former presidential candidate, French-Colombian national Ingrid Betancourt.

Outraged Colombians march against rebel kidnappers

By Hugh Bronstein

Thursday, July 5, 2007

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Colombians headed for the streets on Thursday to show outrage at last week's news that 11 provincial politicians had been killed while held hostage by leftist rebels.

Demanding freedom for other kidnap victims, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American defense contractors, they marched in small towns and cities. They were to be joined by protests in other Latin American countries, France, Spain and the United States, organizers said.

Public employees were given the day off to participate. They clamored for a hostage swap, but the government and Colombia's main rebel group appeared far away from starting talks that might lead to an exchange.

11 Colombia lawmakers reported killed

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Friday, June 29, 2007

The abducted state legislators died in a botched rescue, leftist guerrillas say. The government denies such an operation.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - Leftist rebels announced Thursday that 11 of 12 state legislators they kidnapped five years ago were killed last week, allegedly in a botched rescue attempt by an unidentified "military group."

President Alvaro Uribe took to the airwaves to deny the announcement, which was posted on a website linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Uribe said the government had not ordered a rescue attempt, and he accused the rebel group of the "assassination" of the lawmakers.

The rebels seized the group in April 2002 as the lawmakers held a budgetary session in the southwestern city of Cali.

Colombian Rebels Say 11 Kidnapped Politicians Killed

FOXNEWS.COM

Thursday, June 28, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia - Eleven kidnapped state lawmakers held hostage for five years were killed after a military attack on the jungle camp where they were being kept, according to a statement Thursday on a Web site sympathetic to the country's largest rebel group.

The interior minister and a close adviser to President Alvaro Uribe told Colombian media that they had no information on the reported deaths. There was no way to independently confirm the report.

The Web site of the left-wing news agency ANNCOL carried a statement purportedly from the western command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. It said 11 of the 12 provincial deputies being held were killed in the crossfire after an "unidentified military group" attacked the rebel camp June 18.

Boy, 3, is new face of Colombia's kidnap victims

By Toby Muse

The Associated Press

JUNE 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia . Few people have seen the 3-year-old boy born in captivity to a Colombian politician kidnapped by Latin America's biggest guerrilla army five years ago.

Yet little Emmanuel is soon to become the face of Colombia's legions of kidnap victims, the centerpiece of an international campaign by President Alvaro Uribe to pressure their captors to free them.

Since his birth, Emmanuel has been raised by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The group abducted his mother, Clara Rojas, and her boss, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, in 2002.

Witness says never saw Colombian rebel

By Nestor Ikeda

The Associated Press

JUNE 2007

WASHINGTON - The prosecution of a senior Colombian rebel suffered a major setback Tuesday when a star witness said that he never saw the man being tried on charges of kidnapping three U.S. defense contractors.

"Never," said Colombian police officer Jhon Pinchao when asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Crabb if he had ever seen Ricardo Palmera in the rebel camps where he had been held hostage.

The testimony from Pinchao, who escaped after nine years of captivity by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, came during the second trial of Palmera, 57, a rebel commander known as Simon Trinidad.

Colombian sons killed in Lebanon

By Judi McLeod

Monday, June 25, 2007

There's heartache in Colombia today after three Colombian and three Spanish United Nations peacekeepers were killed in Lebanon. Two others were wounded in the same attack.

No one is claiming responsibility for the attack on the peacekeepers, who were deployed along the border with Israel after last summer's war with Hezbollah. But suspicion is rife that it is militant Islamists, who are fighting the Lebanese Army in the country's north. The United Nations force has been on red alert for weeks because of that fight and several bombings that are believed to be related to it.

CUBAN PHYSICIAN, PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE, CONFINED WITH SCHIZOPHRENIC PATIENTS SINCE FEBRUARY 2005

Information obtained from Cuba via telephone

Monday, June 25, 2007

JUNE 2007

DR. LUIS MILÁN FERNÁNDEZ, prisoner of conscience since the Cuban government crackdown of March-April 2003, and a man who does not suffer from any emotional or mental problems, has been arbitrarily confined since February 18, 2005, to a psychiatric ward of the Prison of Boniato, in Santiago de Cuba.

Dr. Milán Fernández is forced to share a cell with two or three mental patients who are suffering a variety of disorders (obsessive compulsive, schizophrenia, depressive neurosis who attempt to commit suicide, etc.). Penal authorities follow a pattern, changing his cell mates, sometimes leaving him alone. In addition, all those criminals who must be psychiatrically evaluated at the Prison of Boniato are always assigned to remain in Dr. Milán's cell for weeks until the results of their evaluations are concluded.

Bombings prompt curfew in Colombian city

The Associated Press

Saturday, June 23, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia - A wave of bombings in Colombia's most violent city wounded 23 people late Friday, and marines defused another two bombs Saturday. Authorities blamed the bombings on rebels seeking revenge for the killing of a regional guerrilla commander.

The mayor's office in Buenaventura, Colombia's largest port and a major transit point of cocaine leaving the country, declared a nighttime curfew following the seven nearly simultaneous explosions late Friday, and security forces increased patrols Saturday.

Airbus Wins $1.9 Billion Order From Colombia's Avianca

By Andrea Rothman

Saturday, June 23, 2007

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, won a $1.9 billion order for 19 planes from Avianca SA, Colombia's largest airline, as the carrier seeks to expand services.

Avianca, based in Bogota, agreed to buy 14 A320 series planes and five A330-200s, Airbus said today in an e-mailed statement. The agreement, a conversion of options to firm contracts, brings total firm orders from Avianca to 57.

Operation Smile Partners with Navy in Humanitarian Mission

From an Operation Smile news release

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NORFOLK, Va., June 19, 2007 - Operation Smile, a worldwide children's medical charity that provides free surgery to children in developing countries born with facial deformities, is participating with the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort's summer humanitarian assistance deployment.

The USNS Comfort mission will provide humanitarian services to 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean during a 120-day deployment. These services will include basic surgeries, nursing educational opportunities, public health interventions, veterinary services, and basic infrastructure support and construction.

Operation Smile will be working side by side with the Navy in Nicaragua, Peru and Colombia. The Operation Smile volunteer medical teams are composed of international volunteers in Nicaragua and Peru, while a team of Operation Smile Colombian medical volunteers will conduct a medical mission in a Buenaventura local hospital in that country.

US House of Representatives Considers Foreign Assistance Bill Capitol Hill

By Dan Robinson, Via VOA News

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The House of Representatives is considering a $34-billion measure for U.S. international assistance programs and other foreign affairs priorities. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

Known as the foreign operations bill, the measure contains money for a range of global priorities, from AIDS treatment and prevention, and assistance to Darfur to peacekeeping and democracy-building.

Likely to be approved on Thursday, it provides just over $5 billion for the president's HIV/AIDS prevention treatment and care program, along with $550 million for the Global Fund for grants to help prevent AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and hundreds of millions for child survival and health.

Ratifying Death in Colombia

By Harold Meyerson, Editorial from Washington Post

Monday, June 18, 2007

Over the past 15 years, the trade agreements that the United States has entered into with other nations have been, when it comes to ensuring the rights of workers in those nations, merely outrageous and inadequate. Now the administration is about to send up to Capitol Hill a new accord that takes our trade agreements to a whole new level. The proposed agreement is with the government of Colombia, and it's ridiculous.

Alvaro Uribe gets blamed
for the success of his own reforms

Editorial from Washington Post

Monday, June 18, 2007

MUCH OF President Bush's tour of Latin America was haunted by what his administration has failed to accomplish during the past six years. In Brazil, the shadow was the absence of progress on trade between the United States and Latin America's largest country; in Mexico, the absence of immigration reform. The mood of the president's stop in the third-largest country on his tour, Colombia, was somber, too -- but, oddly enough, because of his policy's success, not its failure.

Skype opens window on "Athens of Latin America"

By Judi McLeod

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Early this morning, I heard the superb orchestra that strums in the daily dawn: the birds of BogotÖ. At dusk last evening, I heard the city's children calling out to each other at play, and even the plaintive voice of a mother calling her children home for supper.

It's not that I was fortunate to be in BogotÖ fondly known as, "The Athens of Latin America". The sounds were coming from an open window in a modest apartment thousands of miles away.

The sounds come courtesy of Skype, a Skype that bridges the gap between the thousands of miles separating me from extended family in faraway BogotÖ.

Scientist Manuel E. Patarroyo

A Colombian who created the first safe vaccine for malaria.

Manuel Elkin Patarroyo

Manuel Patarroyo, one of the world's most flamboyant medical researchers, a biochemist from Colombia, has developed the world's first safe and effective malaria vaccine.

Ironically, it took him only 4 years to make his discovery, but 6 years to convince the world that the vaccine worked. Dr. Patarroyo assigned the patent to the World Health Organisation so he wouldn't profit from it personally. His goal is that his vaccine be accessible to all affected regardless of economical background. Tests have shown the vaccine to be between 30 and 60 percent effective, and so could save over 100 million lives a year (300 million people die from malaria every year).

Colombian master robot-maker
Alvaro Villa

Taken from: OTHER LOOK OF COLOMBIA

Alvaro Villa, a Colombian immigrant who left Disney to begin his own modest company, called AVG' Productions, Inc. Villa, typifies the combination of rugged individualist and imaginative tinkerer now sparking the automated entertainment revolution. "My mind was always on electronics and comic books. At the age of three I was rigging flashlights and crystal sets. Everything I got my hands on I would take apart. When I was seven years old, my grandmother brought me a Disney comic book from the United States. I was fascinated. I would spend hours dreaming about beautiful places and colorful animals and putting together plays and scripts in my mind." Having decided to become a pilot, Villa came to the United States at the age of twenty-one. Knowing no English, he went to work as an assembler in an electronics plant. He talked his way into college without a high school diploma by promising that it was en route from Colombia.

Out of Colombia:
The passion of Patarroyo

By Judi McLeod

Friday, June 15, 2007

Is United Nations bureaucracy keeping the lid on a malaria vaccine?

Working everyday, `round the clock in a Bogota laboratory is a character that could be showcased in a Hollywood movie. In this bound to be blockbuster, Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez could oversee the storyline.

The life and times of Manuel Elkin Patarroyo underline the age-old adage that true life is often stranger than fiction. And in the case of M.E. Patarroyo, it’s a damn sight more interesting too.

The world medical community, of course knows that Patarroyo is the Colombian scientist who happened to develop the world’s first malaria vaccine. Perhaps much less known is that the passion of Patarroyo is living testimony of the indomitable human spirit.

Betrayed by all sides, with setbacks that would break the spirits of even the strongest, Patarroyo continues, against all odds to be precisely where he wants to be: Hard at work in his own lab.

Poland and Romania hosted CIA secret prisons

By Dr. Ludwig De Braeckeleer

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A report released on Friday by the Council of Europe factually establishes the existence of secret prisons run by the CIA in Poland and Romania.

The 72 pages report, prepared by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, accuses the two countries of hosting CIA prisons since 2003.

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