President says there is no hurry to name new Bogotá Mayor

abril 16th, 2014

The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said there’s no rush to appoint a replacement for dismissed Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro. “We will evaluate the results of each interview and make the decision that’s best for Bogotá, so I think we have to have patience and wait, there is no rush, we are not in a hurry to make that decision (…),” Mr. Santos said.

He will not select a new mayor, he explained, until he meets with Antonio Navarro, the third candidate. The President has until Wednesday to announce a replacement for Petro.

CDO homeowners ask VP Garzón for help

abril 16th, 2014

Homeowners of Lérida CDO properties that were evacuated for safety reasons sent a letter to Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzón, asking for more attention from the National Government in regards to the negotiation process with the construction company.

Santiago Uribe, spokesperson for the victims and Resilience Chief of Medellín, said the most pressing concern is that the construction company wants to negotiate with each one of the families individually and refuses to do so with the group.

Uribe also said the victims are concerned with the possibility of banks reactivating mortgages, after the grace period they had been given is over.

Authorities are unaware of gangs’ initiative to negotiate

abril 14th, 2014

An alleged initiative by members of the ‘la Oficina de Envigado’ and ‘los Urabeños” criminal gang to engage in talks with the Government is unknown to authorities and people close to mediation processes in Medellín. The Police Department, the Mayoralty of Medellín, and the Catholic Church have all denied having any type of contact with the members of groups that for the past four years have been engaged in violent territorial disputes and are the culprits behind acts of murder, extortion, kidnapping, and micro-drug trafficking.

According to Jaime Jaramillo Panesso, commissioner in reconciliation processes, the rumor has been going around for a few months, “but the truth is that there hasn’t been clarity because, until now, the Government has reiterated that criminal organizations only have the option to turn themselves in to authorities, as they are not participants in the armed conflict and therefore can’t benefit from a demobilization process.”

The Police Department made a similar statement, and said it’s unaware of a pact among groups known as the “rifle pact”. Colombia’s Justice Minister Alfonso Gomez Mendez, ruled out the possibility of negotiating with these gangs and said “nothing in terms of their willingness to surrender has been communicated.”

The Archdiocese of Medellín also denied claims that Archbishop Ricardo Tobֶón has been communicating with members of said gangs to facilitate negotiation with the Government.

However, a number of activist groups and even the Archbishop said it would be positive to support some type of initiative that would encourage these illegal groups to abandon criminal activity, reincorporate themselves into society, and reconcile with their victims.

Reward offered for attacker

abril 9th, 2014

The La Estrella Mayoralty and Medellín’s Metropolitan Police are offering up to 50 million pesos for information that leads to the arrest of whoever attacked 22-year-old Alejandro Correa with acid; the victim did not survive his injuries.

Correa had been walking with a woman on Tuesday night when a man came up to them and ordered them to get down on the ground, he then instructed them to give him everything they had, according to the victim’s female companion, but Alejandro got up and the criminal threw the acid on him.

The victim’s mother, however, doesn’t believe the attack had anything to do with theft. Instead, she said he was involved with an older woman who has three children and that the attack may have been motivated by revenge.

President says all victims can’t be compensated at once

abril 9th, 2014

President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday that the State has made a “monumental” effort to compensate all victims of the armed conflict, but that the Government doesn’t have the ability to take care of all of them at once.

“A monumental institutional and financial effort has been made, an effort recognized by the entire world,” Mr. Santos said during an interview with Señal Radio Colombia in honor of National Memory and Solidarity towards Victims Day, which is observed today in Colombia.

More than 350,000 victims of the 50-year old armed conflict have been compensated already, which the President indicated is an impressive number and has been accomplished with more than 2,2 billion pesos.

The President indicated that the reparation process initiated by his administration, the first in the world to do it before an armed conflict has ended, is essential to achieving the stable long-lasting peace desired by Colombians.

Two suspects in Sierra Nevada fires

abril 7th, 2014

Firefgihters have been trying to put out another fire in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, which has been burning for the past four days. According to the National Risk Management Unit (Ungrd), the fires pose no risk to the neighboring communities, vegetation is low and the fire is burning an area which had already been affected by another fire that burned in the days prior to this one.

Reinforcement crews arrived yesterday to assist firefighters, the Air Force, and 121 members of units from the National Disaster Risk Management System attempting to control the flames. The head of the Ciénaga Fire Department, Lourdes Peña, authorities are very concerned with the increase in wildfires in recent months. The drought is severe and temperatures are extremely high, which makes fired spread more quickly and aggressively. The Ungrd confirmed that two suspects are under investigation for their role in the fires.

Eight acid victims have been taken to Simon Bolivar

abril 7th, 2014

Over the past 12 days, eight victims burned with acid have been taken to the Simon Bolivar hospital in Bogotá, including one male. The most recent case, according to hospital sources, is Luz Adriana Jurado, 43, a native of Manizales who was transferred this morning from the Mario Gaitán Yanguas hospital in Soacha. Authorities believe the suspect in this attack is another woman; the two women allegedly consumed a significant amount of alcohol and had an altercation, during which the aggressor threw boiling water mixed with a chemical agent at Jurado.

Jurado was transferred to the nation’s capital due to the severity of her injuries, and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Tuesday. Meanwhile police released a sketch of alias ‘Jairo’, the alleged perpetrator of the attack against Inés Carrillo, a woman who managed a fast food restaurant in Bosa. Business executive Natalia Ponce de León, attacked on March 27th by Jonathan Vega, is in stable condition and scheduled to undergo another reconstructive surgery in the next few hours.

San Francisco is now mine-free

abril 4th, 2014

The National Government announced that the town of San Francisco, in eastern Antioquia, is now the third Colombian town to be free of anti personnel mines and improvised explosive artifacts. The Government will certify the town as mine-free at a later date but people have already started to benefit from the newly achieved status, as many were displaced due to the threats of mines and are starting to return.

Medellín, one of the top 3 places to live

abril 1st, 2014

The Cómo Vamos (How are we doing) Network revealed the results of its Citizens’ Perception Survey about quality of life in 11 Colombian cities. Medellín, Manizales, and Pereira scored highest in terms of best cities to live in, while Ibagué, Bogotá, and Cartagena scored lowest.

Everyday factors like mobility, security, health, education, and trust in leaders all came into play for this study. The network’s goal is to evaluate changes in the quality of life in Colombia’s cities, influence the decision-making processes, and facilitate the exchange of good practices and ideas, as well as promote citizen participation.

Attorney General will charge five people in Space collapse

abril 1st, 2014

The National Attorney General’s Office said it will be charging five people for the collapse of the Space apartment complex’s tower 6 last October. All five will face manslaughter charges and two will face additional prevarication charges for omitting information.

The Deputy Attorney General of Colombia, Jorge Fernando Perdomo, said they found more than 1000 irregularities related to the construction of beams and walls in the affected buildings. Said issues have to do specifically with design and miscalculations related to the weight items could support.

Had there been an earthquake, Perdomo said, the building would not have resisted. This is in line with conclusions reached by the Los Andes University, hired by the Mayoralty of Medellínto assess the condition of the remaining buildings and investigate the cause of the 6th tower’s collapse.

Phase 2 of the study will be revealed on April 4th.

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