Political parties will be heard in regards to peace negotiations

noviembre 5th, 2014

The Colombian Government’s head peace negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said he will meet with the representatives of political parties to hear them out in regards to the peace process developing with the Farc guerrilla. Talks are approaching the two-year mark.

De la Calle said the meetings are meant to “not just inform us but also to listen to their opinions in open and transparent discussions, with the intention of hearing and welcoming recommendations and criticism.” He vowed that the Government will take criticism seriously and reiterated that there will not be an ‘armed peace’ because the Government will never agree to allow Farc to use weapons in politics.

“When an agreement is signed, weapons will be abandoned,” he said.

Farc murders two indigenous who took down a billboard

noviembre 5th, 2014

Farc’s 6th front murdered two indigenous men in Toribío, Cauca, after they took down a billboard commemorating the 3-year anniversary of the death of alias ‘Alfonso Cano’. Cano, who was once the chief of the guerrilla group, dies on November 4th of 2011 at the hands of the Colombian Military, during a military operation.

According to the People’s Defender’s office, the two indigenous victims had been looking for the perpetrators of an attack against the Nasa community leader, Edgar Tumiñá.

Jorge Armando Otálora, the People’s Defender, asked Farc negotiators engaged in peace talks with the Colombian Government in Havana (Cuba) to “at the very least agree to respect the civilian population.”

American actress helps take down sex traffickers in Colombia

octubre 20th, 2014

American actress Laurie Holden, best known for playing Andrea on tThe Walking Dead, was part of the undercover operation that brought down a sex trafficking ring in Cartagena, Medellín and Armenia. Twelve arrests were made, three in Armenia, five in Cartagena and four in Medellín.

The 44-year-old actress was part of Operation Underground Railroad, which infiltrated the prostitution world in Cartagena, soliciting young prostitutes for an alleged bachelor party. The operation was carried out with the assistance of the Colombian Attorney General and the National Police as well as Homeland Security of the United States and the NGO Breaking Chains.

The sting captured video footage of the suspects bringing young girls to the supposed gathering; this was later used as evidence of criminal activity. 55 young girls being sold as sex slaves were rescued in the operation. The recordings will also be used for a documentary film called ‘The Abolitionists”.

Talks with Eln may be announced by December

octubre 20th, 2014

Political analyst and director of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, Leon Valencia, said that considering how long exploratory talks between the National Government and the Eln have lasted and the rumors that have been circulating, it’s likely that Colombians will have an announcement in regards to peace negotiations with that group by the end of this year.

In response to questions about pressure from President Juan Manuel Santos, Valencia explained that it’s part of the talks and that what Mr. Santos has asked for is discretion when discussing the topic. Valencia indicated that the process with the Eln, as with Farc, will be part open and part confidential.

Two Farc members arrested in Bogotá

octubre 2nd, 2014

A joint effort between the Police, the National Army and the Attorney General’s office led to the arrest of alias ‘Diego’ and alias ‘Juancho’, both members of Farc’s eastern front who were allegedly planning an attack with explosives in Bogotá. The suspects, ages 18 and 19 respectively, took orders directly from Farc financial chiefs to pressure victims with terrorist acts. They also recruited youngsters for the guerrilla group. Both pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and terrorism.

Medellín makes it to one-digit unemployment, but barely

agosto 1st, 2014

Medellín and the Metropolitan Area are now on the list of cities with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, with 9,9 percent for the second quarter of 2014. While Medellín’s rate is still far from the national unemployment rate, which was 9 percent between April and June,  it still dropped below 10 percent sooner than expected. Last year it didn’t reach that level until the third quarter.

The number of employed people in the Aburrá Valley rose to 1,785,000, an increase of 76,000. The sectors mainly responsible for the increase are construction, real estate, and retail.

CDO has no money, but Space will be demolished

agosto 1st, 2014

Towers 1 thru 4 of the Space apartment complex will come down and Medellin’s Mayoralty will be responsible for the demolition, a decision made after receiving notification that the construction company lacks the funds to carry it out. The 700 million-peso operation will be added to the 3,000 million Lérida CDO already owes the Mayoralty for responding to the emergency on October 12th, 2013, when tower 6 collapsed killing 12 and leaving hundreds homeless.

Dagrd director Carlos Alberto Gil said “we will move forward, because it’s a matter of risk. When the assets are all sold and the liquidation is worked out, the Mayoralty will be first in line on the list of those who must be paid back.”

The company that will demolish the buildings hasn’t been selected yet, but Atila Demolitions, which handled the process with tower 5, is a possibility. Experts said this will be an easier process because there are no longer neighbors to worry about. With tower 5, it was important to ensure that all remaining towers were left standing.

Seven foreign companies look to Colombia for expansion

julio 23rd, 2014

Seven foreign companies are planning to open industrial plants in Colombia, namely in Antioquia, Valle, Cundinamarca, and Cauca. With a joint investment of 1,3 billion dollars, Holcim, Unilever, Fukurawa, Whirlpool in partnership with Haceb, Grupos Incas, and Hero Motocorp will soon be a presence in Colombia.

“The Colombian market is going through a phase of economic growth, international firms know it’s a safe bet to plant part of their capital here,” said business expert Ricardo Mejía. He also explained that it’s important for the country to open its doors to new and different companies that handle products different from the national ones, “although it could generate competition, the productive benefits for Colombia will increase.”

Andres Felipe Arias is in Florida

julio 17th, 2014

Colombia’s Foreign Relations Minister, Maria Angela Holguin, confirmed to the press that former Minister of Agriculture Andres Felipe Arias is in the United States; once the Colombian Government knows what his sentence is, it will request his deportation.

A few days ago, Arias approached the Colombian Consulate in Miami to process some documents, and the Consul, “as was her duty, communicated with the Foreign Relations Ministry in Colombia, which in turn informed the Attorney General. Word on sentencing for Arias, convicted in the case of irregularities in contracts awarded as part of the Agro Ingreso Seguro program, should be known on Thursday.

Zuluaga speaks up in defense of Arias

julio 16th, 2014

Former presidential candidate for the Centro Democrático party, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, spoke publicly in defense of recently convicted former Minister of Agriculture, Andres Felipe Arias.

“The situation Andrés Felipe has had to face really hurts me because he never stole a single cent,” Zuluaga said, adding that he doesn’t know where Arias is and that he hasn’t heard from him in several weeks.

Zuluaga believes that, along with the case of former DAS director, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the Arias case has been highly politicized. “It’s odd how a Court ruling is leaked two days before the runoff presidential election,” he said.

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