Archivo de ‘Peace and Human Rights’

Authorities are unaware of gangs’ initiative to negotiate

Lunes, 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.

President says all victims can’t be compensated at once

Miércoles, 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.

San Francisco is now mine-free

Viernes, 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.

President is bringing Peace Council back

Miércoles, marzo 26th, 2014

During the 14th Governors’ Summit underway in Ibagué, Tolima President Juan Manuel Santos announced he is bringing back the National Peace Council due to the fact that the peace process with the Farc guerrilla is now “mature”.

The President said he met with former Senator Piedad Córdoba with whom he agreed to reconvene the council and offer a chance for participation to all representatives of civil society. The goal is to take a number of proposals and bring them to the negotiating table in Havana, Cuba.

Farc says it will investigate attacks in Meta and Tumaco

Miércoles, marzo 19th, 2014

Farc’s negotiator in Havana, Rodrigo Granda alias “Ricardo Téllez” , said that the group of delegates is currently investigating exactly what happened in Tumaco and Meta. According to Granda, the delegates cannot make a statement until they know what happened.

The Minister of Defense blames the Daniel Aldana branch of Farc for the kidnapping, subsequent torture, and eventual murder of two police officers in Tumaco.

Meanwhile the Colombian Army’s VII Brigade said the 27th front of Farc kidnapped five oil company employees on Wednesday in Vista Hermosa, Meta. In reference to that incident, Granda said “those of us who are here are engaged in talks and not at the head of troops, that’s why we’re investigating.”

If the guerrilla group’s investigation into the matter indicates that Farc is indeed behind the attacks, Granda said they would absolutely accept responsibility.

Buenaventura paralyzed as residents protest against violence

Miércoles, marzo 12th, 2014

Residents, business owners and transportation providers in Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca, Colombia) paralyzed the city as they gathered to protest against the violence they’ve been forced to endure at the hands of criminal gangs at war with each other.

Stores remained closed and transportation companies did not operate to reject an increase in homicides, forced disappearances, gang disputes and extortion, which affects the entire population and all types of businesses, big or small.

“We can’t take it anymore, let’s defeat fear, no more indifference” was one of the slogans seen a few times on banners and posters hanging in windows and storefronts. Youth groups took to the streets dressed in white, carrying the flags of Colombia and Buenaventura, demanding more Government presence in the region.

“People responded and the town is paralyzed. People are united because all residents are victims of this violence in one way or another,” said one participant. Catholic Bishop Hector Epalza, who has been active in reporting atrocities committed by criminal gangs, said the demonstration is a message for the country and the entire world about the severity of the situation.

Aside from more security, demonstrators are also asking for more social investments, which in turn would assist in fighting poverty and addressing a significant lack of opportunities, a situation which, according to Bishop Epalza, favors recruitment of people for criminal groups.

Farc suggests decriminalizing drugs in Colombia

Martes, febrero 25th, 2014

Representatives of the Farc guerrilla suggested legalizing consumption of “psychoactive drugs” during peace negotiations with the Colombian government, which are currently focused on the issue of drugs and drug trafficking.

The subversives said they feel the consumption of drugs of this kind are a “public health problem” and feels the State holds all the responsibility in terms of prevention, treatment and regulation. Farc believes consumers need to be treated like “victims of the transnational criminal enterprise of drug trafficking”. The group’s proposal involves significant reforms to criminal legislation as well as social security.

De la Calle: “We will not let Farc judge our Military”.

Lunes, febrero 24th, 2014

Humberto de la Calle, Colombia’s chief negotiator in peace talks with Farc, said the Government will not allow Farc to act as a judge of its institutions and military forces.

“Our problems will be resolved by our institutions, in democracy. Farc’s unacceptable claims, made with an accusatory tone, do not contribute to peace efforts at all but on the contrary, distance us from that goal.” De la Calle added that discrediting national figures and former presidents is not the goal of these negotiations either and doing so “generates a terrible atmosphere”.

“We could do it too,” he said, “but we refuse to participate in that game.” He reminded Farc negotiators that if they wish to be a part of public debate, then they must advance on the issues outlined in the peace process, to participate in politics and give their opinion on these issues.

Peace negotiators close to agreement on issue 3

Jueves, febrero 13th, 2014

Colombia’s peace negotiators and have begun drafting initial agreements on the issue of drug trafficking, currently being debated on the negotiating table in Havana. The parts confirmed they now have the first drafts for what has to do with substitution of illegal coca, marijuana, and poppy crops.

“We have begun building agreements on one of the sensitive topics of the talks,” the Government’s head negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said.

Both the Colombian Government and Farc agree that solutions and plans for the substitution of illegal crops need to be a part of comprehensive rural reform; they also agree on the need to increase “the State’s institutional presence in affected areas, promoting development and respect for the rights of all citizens”. They also feel communities should be given a significant role in implementing said solutions.

Farc and the Government just finished their 20th round of negotiations, which began in late 2012; talks will resume on February 24th.

Semana has proof of illegal wiretapping

Jueves, febrero 6th, 2014

The director of Semana Magazine, Alejandro Santos, said the publication has proof of irregularities involved with Operation Andromeda and said that Government peace negotiators were indeed wiretapped.  He made the statements in reference to information published by Semana on Tuesday, claiming that a group of current and former members of the Colombian military, along with computer experts, spied on leftist leaders and government negotiators engaged in peace talks in Havana from a clandestine location in Bogotá.

Mr. Santos said illegal espionage activity targeted “not just negotiators but other sectors as well” and added that the Government and the Military are trying to downplay the issue by bringing the magazine’s credibility into question, just like what happened with the DAS illegal wiretappings.

He also said there is still a lot left to reveal and that Semana will continue to protect the identity of its sources so as not to endanger them. Mr. Santos also revealed that the information was divulged online because the team found out that another publication had also gained access to it.

abril 2014
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