It was like a huge party in Colombia. “Congratulations!” people said to each other, before hugging. “Only 20 minutes to go!” one office worker said, hurrying on her way to Bolívar square, in the heart of Bogotá. And everyone knew what she was talking about, and hurried along too. Complete strangers exchanged winks of complicity.
“If you’re going to talk about Colombia and the peace process, do it somewhere else,” was heard at a regional preparatory meeting for the World Humanitarian Summit, according to Ramón Rodríguez, with the Colombian government’s Unit for Attention and Integral Reparation for Victims (UARIV).
When Tamara Adrián, a Venezuelan transgender opposition legislator, spoke at a panel on inclusion during the last session of the International Civil Society Week held in Bogotá, 12 Latin American women stood up and stormed out of the room.
Collusion, according to the dictionary, means “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.” That is what the world’s political and economic elites engage in, according to Danny Sriskandarajah, secretary general of the international civil society alliance CIVICUS.
“It was not possible” to reach a final agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Colombian government’s lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, announced in Havana on Wednesday Mar. 23 – the deadline set for a peace deal.
The police cut down trees at six different points to block the road to the spot in northeast Colombia where priest-turned-guerrilla Camilo Torres was killed 50 years ago, and local residents protested the attempt to pay homage to him.
“I am honoured to be in Colombia at a time when important steps towards peace are being taken,” the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said after meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
There is a growing sensation in Colombia that the peace talks with the FARC guerrillas are “about to come to an end” – in success or failure, according to the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.
Three major advances were made over the last week in the peace talks that have been moving forward in Cuba for nearly two years between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, while the decades-old civil war rages on.
Colombians will basically decide Sunday whether to continue the five decade counterinsurgency war or persevere in the attempt to negotiate a political solution to the conflict, in order to allow the children being born this year to experience what their parents have never known: a country at peace.
In July 2004, when paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso was demobilising, he admitted to the Colombian parliament that the illegal extreme rightwing forces controlled 35 percent of the seats. Ten years later the situation is very similar: one-third of the new senate, where congressional power mainly resides, is allegedly linked to the paramilitaries.
The ousted left-wing mayor of the Colombian capital, Gustavo Petro, is a casualty of the battle over the introduction of a Zero Garbage programme, which had included thousands of informal recyclers in the waste disposal business.
The rural community of Las Pavas in northern Colombia received this year’s National Peace Prize Wednesday in recognition of its peaceful struggle for land that is claimed by an oil palm company, in a case that became an international symbol of the conflict over land in this country.
A new system of tunnels at the Alto de La Línea mountain pass in Colombia’s central Cordillera mountain range will open up a key logistics route for this country and neighbouring Venezuela. But it could be overcome by disaster if the Machín volcano erupts.
A strike declared nearly two weeks ago in Colombia by farmers and joined later by truck drivers, health workers, miners and students spread to include protests in the cities before mushrooming into a general strike Thursday, demanding changes in the government’s economic policies.