Colombia News | Colombia Reports 2018-09-20T01:14:56Z https://colombiareports.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Adriaan Alsema https://colombiareports.com <![CDATA[Colombia could have produced 1.4 million kilos of cocaine in 2017: UN]]> https://colombiareports.com/?p=189168 2018-09-19T23:39:18Z 2018-09-19T21:12:30Z Despite decades of counter-narcotics efforts, Colombia potentially produced a record 1,379 metric ton of cocaine in 2017, the United Nations said Wednesday. The production is more than 10 times the…

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Despite decades of counter-narcotics efforts, Colombia potentially produced a record 1,379 metric ton of cocaine in 2017, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The production is more than 10 times the estimated production of 1993, the year in which drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed and the year before the country began fumigating coca, the base ingredient of the illicit drug.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), some 171,000 hectares or 660 square miles were used for coca cultivation last year.

Like potential cocaine production, coca cultivation reached a level never measured in the country before. The previous record was set in the year 2000 when 163,300 hectares were used to grow coca.


Coca cultivation in Colombia

Source: UNODC


Coca thrives where the state fails

The growth was highest in regions previously controlled by the FARC, the guerrilla group that demobilized last year, particularly in northern Colombia where the 2016 peace deal with the disarmed rebels received most resistance.

Colombia’s government and security forces have been criticized for failing to assume control over these areas that have traditionally been neglected or even abandoned by the state.

It is estimated that the total amount of coca leaf produced in the 10 municipalities, which have most of the coca crops, has a value in the local market of COP890,232 million ($302 million). As a reference, the aggregate value of annual official municipal budget for these 10 municipalities, is COP577.000 million ($196 million).

UNODC

The reasons farmers resorted to growing coca didn’t go away as a result of $10 billion in US aid.

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) expert Adam Isacson via Bloomberg

“The way forward”

While Colombia and its main counter-narcotics sponsor, the United States, want to resume aerial fumigation of coca and continue the forced manual eradication of crops, the UN stressed the importance of a voluntary crop substitution and development programs that were part of the peace deal with the FARC.

Monitoring data indicates that crops decreased 11% in areas where coca control activities (forced or voluntary eradication) were carried out. However, such interventions were only achieved in 14% of the territory with coca crops. Reaching higher impact rates requires not only improvements in coordination and coverage, but also designing strategies adapted to the different local and regional conditions.

UNODC

The country’s new government said last month it would end the voluntary substitution program undersigned by more than half of the families that live off coca.


Colombia’s renewed war on drugs could get ugly, and solve nothing


But according to the United Nations, the program that kicked off in May last year has yet to produce visible results, and ought to be accompanied with development programs that would allow farmers to take part in Colombia’s legal economy.

Transformation of the territory is key to achieving sustainable peace and development of the areas with coca crops. This is possible if the efforts are not only focusing on illicit activities, but also on understanding the complexities and challenges of these territories. This process should consider and include non-coca cultivating neighbors, the neighboring populated villages and the market centers that can support and reinforce legal activities. Identification of realistic and feasible alternatives for isolated areas where there are challenges for their integration with populated centers is of key importance.

UNODC

According to the UNODC, “the consolidation of peace must be accompanied by institutional presence capable of providing conditions for security and the rule of law. The main objective will be to facilitate and reinforce the role of the state and promote integrated rural development activities, reduce vulnerabilities and transform the territories of Colombia.”

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Adriaan Alsema https://colombiareports.com <![CDATA[Colombia’s military chief refuses to confirm Duque’s claim ‘Guacho’ was injured]]> https://colombiareports.com/?p=189160 2018-09-19T15:33:22Z 2018-09-19T15:32:44Z Colombia’s top military commander on Tuesday refused to confirm President Ivan Duque’s claim that FARC dissident leader “Guacho” was seriously injured in a military operation. Armed Forces commander General Alberto…

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Colombia’s top military commander on Tuesday refused to confirm President Ivan Duque’s claim that FARC dissident leader “Guacho” was seriously injured in a military operation.

Armed Forces commander General Alberto Jose Mejia made the statement while visiting the southwestern Nariño province to inspect efforts to capture the former FARC guerrilla, who is wanted in both Colombia and Ecuador.

“We cannot confirm nor deny if Guacho was injured,” said Mejia after visiting the location where the president and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero on Saturday claimed Guacho was shot in the back twice by a special forces sniper.

Duque said Saturday that “we have information that … Guacho was injured this morning.”


Colombia’s most-feared FARC dissident injured in military operation: Duque


Not until we have his body or capture him alive we can look the Colombian people in the eye and tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

General Alberto Jose Mejia

The general’s refusal to confirm government claims comes amid all kinds of contradictory reports regarding the manhunt for the former FARC guerrilla that controls large parts of Colombia’s most important coca-growing area.

While newspaper El Tiempo reported that the military had deployed 2,000 soldiers to catch Guacho, the Armed Forces’ website said that 4,000 men and women are engaged in the manhunt.


Colombia’s leading newspaper selling propaganda as news: report


The massive manhunt has been dubbed “Operation Anguila” and is concentrated in the border municipality of Tumaco and the neighboring Roberto Payan, according to the military.

We are in the Telembi Triangle, exerting significant pressure on the main objective and we ask God to enlighten these courageous troops so that we can quickly locate this individual.

General Alberto Jose Mejia

Guacho has been terrorizing the southwest of Colombia and the northwest of Ecuador ever since he abandoned the country’s peace process and began vying for control over Nariño’s coca fields with rival armed groups like the ELN and the AGC.

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Megan Janetsky <![CDATA[Colombia’s leading newspaper selling propaganda as news: report]]> https://colombiareports.com/?p=189153 2018-09-20T01:14:56Z 2018-09-19T14:52:16Z Colombia’s most renowned newspaper, El Tiempo, has been publishing propaganda without adequately disclosing that the apparent news content was paid for, according to a report. A recent investigation by the…

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Colombia’s most renowned newspaper, El Tiempo, has been publishing propaganda without adequately disclosing that the apparent news content was paid for, according to a report.

A recent investigation by the League Against Silence, an investigative journalism initiative to counter self-censorship in Colombian journalism, revealed that El Tiempo’s newsroom is violating basic ethics in regards to editorial independence.

The investigation found was that the newsroom has received hundreds of thousands of dollars for “native advertising,” advertorials usually clearly labeled as “branded content.”

Those advertisers would be set up with editors and massive “specials” are published to pedal whatever propaganda the customer wants. The stories in El Tiempo are hardly attributed to their patron, Bogota’s city hall, and tell a story favoring the advertiser rather than the audience.

The newspaper has been doing this for years, according to the report.

While news organizations answer to many constituencies, including advertisers and shareholders, the journalists in those organizations must maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above any other if they are to provide the news without fear or favor. This commitment to citizens first is the basis of a news organization’s credibility; the implied covenant that tells the audience the coverage is not slanted for friends or advertisers.

American Press Association

El Tiempo was founded by Liberal Party (LP) elites in Bogota and for years was owned by family of former President Juan Manuel Santos and Colombia’s current ambassador to Washington DC, Francisco Santos.


Power through manipulation: The story of the Santos family


This article about urban development in Bogota was reportedly paid for by the mayor. (Image: League against Silence)

Today, the newspaper is owned by Colombia’s richest man Luis Carlos Sarmiento and employs family members of the Santos political dynasty and former President Ernesto Samper.

One of its most prominent advertiser has become Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who has been criticized for spending massive amounts on propaganda while imposing austerity measures elsewhere.

The Mayor’s office has used the city’s public utilities company ETB as a media center for “buying and optimizing spaces in mass, alternative and community media,” according to the League Against Silence.

Between December 2015 and July 2018 the mayor’s office reportedly paid ETB roughly $13.8 million ($42 billion pesos), government records show. In 2016 and 2017, much of that was doled out to mass media companies including Caracol Television, El Tiempo, RCN Television, RCN Radio, Caracol Radio and El Espectador.

Caracol Television was the biggest recipient, followed by El Tiempo in second.


Where Bogota’s city hall spent its propaganda money


In June, El Tiempo published a story named “Las Obras de Bogota,” or “The Works of Bogota,” which portrayed the country’s capital as a transforming city without safety or pollution problems.

The story was told through the voice of Peñalosa, and the only acknowledgement of the payments was a line at the end reading: “Concept, design and editorial: Special Content Unit of EL TIEMPO. With the support of the Mayor’s Office of Bogota.”

The story is just one of many, in July the publication ran a similar series titled “La Nueva Bogota,” or “The New Bogota,” made up of ten stories, photos, graphs, and the same tiny line.


How Colombia’s newspapers consistently misinformed the public on the armed conflict


It is unclear the exact number of stories El Tiempo has published like this, or whether the newspaper received money from other entities to present propaganda as news.

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Adriaan Alsema https://colombiareports.com <![CDATA[Duque reactivates commission to monitor Colombia’s peace process]]> https://colombiareports.com/?p=189152 2018-09-18T17:13:46Z 2018-09-18T17:13:31Z Colombia’s President Ivan Duque assigned top officials to reactivate the government’s participation in a tripartite commission that monitors the country’s peace process with demobilized FARC guerrillas. The commission that consists…

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Colombia’s President Ivan Duque assigned top officials to reactivate the government’s participation in a tripartite commission that monitors the country’s peace process with demobilized FARC guerrillas.

The commission that consists of representatives of the State, the United Nations and the FARC was left without government representation after the end former President Juan Manuel Santos’ term last month.


A 200-year history lesson to understand Colombia’s armed conflict


The so-called Monitoring, Promotion and Verification of the Implementation of the Final Agreement will be joined by Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, Peace Commissioner Miguel Ceballos and post-conflict adviser Emilio Jose Archila, the government announced Tuesday.

The UN Security Council last week urged Duque to “renew momentum behind implementation of the Final Agreement” that formally ended more than half a century of armed conflict between the former guerrilla group and the State.


UN extends mission to monitor Colombia’s peace process


FARC president Rodrigo Londoño on Monday asked the president to “urgently” appoint government representatives amid ongoing violence in former FARC territory and rearming guerrillas who have lost faith in the government’s commitment to the peace process.

The reports of rearmament of dissident factions of what used to be Colombia’s largest guerrilla have only grown since Duque, whose party opposes the process, took office.

According to transnational crime website InSight Crime, as many as 40% of former FARC guerrillas could be in the process of rearming. Other estimates are considerably less pessimistic.

The United Nations, which monitors compliance by the government and the FARC, last week called on 31 former guerrilla commanders to reaffirm their commitment to the peace process after seven went underground.


Missing FARC commanders ‘went underground amid fear of imminent arrest’


The process is complicated because — after more than half a century of war and more than 8 million victims — tens of thousands of Colombians could be implicated in war crimes.

Furthermore, after decades of consistent war propaganda that sought to make the mass victimization of civilians invisible, many media have had difficulty reporting on the peace process that sought to put victims at its center.

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Mathew Di Salvo <![CDATA[Colombia can count on US in case of Venezuela attack: ambassador]]> https://colombiareports.com/?p=189143 2018-09-18T15:01:44Z 2018-09-18T11:40:39Z The United States will defend Colombia against possible Venezuelan military aggression, the US ambassador said after Bogota ended its opposition against possible military action against its neighbor. In an interview…

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The United States will defend Colombia against possible Venezuelan military aggression, the US ambassador said after Bogota ended its opposition against possible military action against its neighbor.

In an interview with El Tiempo newspaper, US Ambassador in Colombia Kevin Whitaker said President Ivan Duque recently spoke with US Defense Secretary James Mattis about the possibility of Venezuelan aggression.

“Colombia can count on us,” Whitaker told the newspaper, adding that he believed an attack is unlikely.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and President Duque talked recently. They discussed the issue. What I’m going to say as a product of that meeting is that Colombia can count on us.

US Ambassador Kevin Whitaker

Colombia stands down against possible military intervention in Venezuela


Tensions are mounting between the two South American countries that cut virtually all ties under former President Juan Manuel Santos years ago.

While Santos consistently aligned with neighbors and opposed the possibility of military intervention, Duque recently refused to sign a statement by the so-called Lima Group in which the countries reiterated its opposition to possible military intervention.

The Lima Group – made up of 14 countries – was established last year to promote a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s crisis and the restoration of the country’s deteriorated democracy.


Venezuela would bomb Colombia if US attacks: lawmaker


An economic crisis and political tensions has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee their homeland due to shortages of food and medicine. Colombia and other neighboring countries are struggling to deal with the exodus.

Described as a potential “humanitarian catastrophe” by the United Nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and Duque talked on Friday and, according to the White House, agreed to increase pressure on Venezuela’s authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro.

Duque has demanded that Maduro be investigated for crimes against humanity while Maduro has accused Colombia on multiple occasions it was plotting with opponents and the US to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

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