I had been told he was in Havana but that, because he was sick, he didn’t want to see anyone. I knew where he usually stayed: in a magnificent country house far from the city centre. I called on the phone and Mercedes, his wife, eased my doubts. She said, warmly: “Not at all, that’s to keep the pests away. Come over, ‘Gabo’ will be happy to see you.”
A meeting in Popayán, capital of the Cauca department, was the excuse for learning about a complex and violent reality. The war between the military, paramilitaries, guerrillas, and drug traffickers is intertwined with savage extractivism, with illegal mining its worst expression.
Although polling consistently showed that issues like poverty, crime, education and healthcare featured more prominently in voters’ minds than the peace process, the polarity of the main candidates’ positions on the latter issue largely eclipsed the slight differences between them on others. “The peace talks were the only way [for Santos] to distinguish himself from Zuluaga, especially in the second round,” said Restrepo. “It was also Zuluaga’s weak point. Historically Colombians have always wanted peaceful negotiations over war.”
Plans by Colombia’s state-owned firm Ecopetrol to drill for gas in the north of the country have been suspended following opposition from the indigenous U’wa people. An organization representing 17 U´wa communities, Asou’wa, raised the alarm about the drilling in late February reporting the arrival of “an avalanche of heavy machinery” and an increasing army presence.
Holding down an occupation for five months isn’t easy. Doing so in Colombia, even less so. But members of the community of Héctor Alirio Martínez in the municipality of Fortul, near the border with Venezuela, have raised the stakes even higher: they’re occupying land owned by the Ministry of Defense. The 100 hectare terrain now spotted with wood and plastic homes was slated to become a large military base.
After nine years of research and illustration, the Beehive Design Collective launched their latest graphic campaign, Mesoamérica Resiste, in December of last year. Mesoamérica Resiste is the third installment in a trilogy about globalization in the Americas (following earlier graphics about the FTAA and Plan Colombia). This graphic campaign was directly researched with communities from Mexico, Central America, and Colombia who are impacted by the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project, a neoliberal regional development plan formerly known as Plan Puebla Panama.
Facing the reality of disappearing ecosystems, decreasing populations and the extinction of species that the country is dealing with, it is time for the Colombian State’s decision-makers to implement actions immediately in order to stop this devastation before it is too late, according to four environmental experts who have given recommendations from their fields in the program Su Madre Naturaleza [Your Mother Nature] by Canal Capital.
“So you are the mother of the narco-guerilla commander,” the Ocaña District Attorney told her. “No, sir. I am the mother of Fair Leonardo Porras Bernal,” said Luz Maria Bernal. She replied that her son Leonardo, 26, had been born with mental disabilities and that he had the mental capacity of an eight year old. He could not read or write and had been certified as having a mental capacity of 53%.The right side of his body was paralyzed, including the hand which was allegedly used to hold the gun.
Colombia’s government is failing to address the country’s critical human rights situation said Amnesty International on Tuesday ahead of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ annual review of the country. For example, most paramilitary groups have not been effectively disbanded despite their supposed demobilization in a government-sponsored process that began in 2005. They are still responsible for multiple human rights violations, often acting in collusion with elements of the security forces.
Some victims of the bombings fear denouncing the events, while others do step forward and lodge formal complaints against the Army or other armed groups in the area. The hopes for compensation from the state are slim, as the process by which victims receive reparations from the state can drag on for years, if it is given at all.