Stories written by Constanza Vieira
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A water gauge and sensor in the Las Ciebas River on the outskirts of Neiva, which send water level data over radio waves. Credit: Courtesy of FAO

Colombian River Basin Passes the Test of El Niño and La Niña

Patricia Gómez, an engineer, is leading a training workshop for a group of 11 men at the fire station in Neiva, the capital of the department of Huila in southwest Colombia.

A traditional water gauge in the Las Ciebas River under the Guayabo bridge on the outskirts of Neiva is complemented by a sensor suspended from the same bridge which sends water level data over radio waves. - Courtesy of FAO

Colombian River Basin Passes the Test of El Niño and La Niña

Risk prevention measures with active community participation have reduced the threat of flooding and water shortages in the Colombian city of Neiva.

COLOMBIA: Saving the River Basin, One Schoolchild at a Time

"Out of love for the river, we reforest, recycle, and make this place beautiful," says a sign welcoming visitors to the Floragaita school, where a balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) tree with enormous white flowers guards the entrance to the lush green grounds on a hill in the heart of Colombia’s Andes mountains.

The fate of Romeo Langlois, a French reporter who has worked in Colombia for 12 years, is unknown.  Credit: Courtesy Simone Bruno

COLOMBIA: Missing French Reporter’s Journalistic Mission

Romeo Langlois, a French reporter in Colombia, removed his helmet and bullet-proof vest and ran towards the guerrillas during fighting between them and Colombian army troops on Saturday, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón reported.

The Fifth People

Last Summit of the Americas Without Cuba

"What matters at this summit is not what is on the official agenda," said Uruguayan analyst Laura Gil, echoing the conventional wisdom in this Colombian port city, where the Sixth Summit of the Americas ended Sunday without a final declaration.

Socorro Ramírez is the coordinator of the Social Forum of the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena.  Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

At Summit of Americas, Governments “Are Listening” to the People

In preparation for the Sixth Summit of the Americas, the gathering’s Social Forum has held 25 meetings since September, as well as dozens of online working sessions, with the participation of some 7,000 people.

Messages of Peace in Colombia

Analysts in Colombia have varied in their degree of optimism, but they generally agree that the release of the last 10 police and military hostages held by the FARC guerrillas, some since 1998, was a peace signal.

Clara Nieto at her home in Bogotá. Credit: Margarita Carrillo/IPS

Q&A: “Cuba’s Presence at OAS Summit Would Have Caused Serious Problems for Obama”

Colombian diplomat Clara Nieto says President Juan Manuel Santos managed to work out in his favour the boycott that was looming over the sixth Summit of the Americas, after several countries threatened to stay away if Cuba was not invited.

Juan Carlos Monge and Todd Howland presenting the report. Credit: OHCHR Colombia

Illegal Wiretapping Continues in Colombia, U.N. Says

Illegal spying on human rights activists and journalists is still happening in Colombia, according to a new report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Juan Carlos Monge and Todd Howland presenting the report.   Credit:OHCHR Colombia

Illegal Wiretapping Continues in Colombia, U.N. Says

Illegal spying on human rights activists and journalists is still happening in Colombia, according to a new report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Colombia Finds Swiss Hostage Mediator Innocent

The dismissal of charges in Colombia against Swiss mediator Jean-Pierre Gontard, who helped negotiate the release of numerous hostages held by guerrillas in this country between 1998 and 2008, is "magnificent news, for bilateral relations as well as at a purely human level," Colombia’s ambassador to Switzerland, Claudia Turbay, told IPS.

COLOMBIA: Of Blackmail and Fake Guerrillas

After Colombia's attorney general announced that she was bringing charges against a former government peace commissioner for his role in a staged surrender of a fake guerrilla unit, he called for an investigation of her husband – which she promptly ordered.

Anders Kompass on a visit to Bogotá to support the victims of forced displacement. Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

Q&A: “Opposition to Restitution of Land Not Surprising”

"I find it extremely painful to see that there are people in Colombia trying once again to deceive" people displaced from their land, just when "they have hope of being recognised and compensated," said Swedish diplomat Anders Kompass on a visit to this country to support rural victims of the civil war.

COLOMBIA: Worse than Fiction

A teenage love story is the fictional plot device in a new Colombian film, Silence in Paradise, about the all-too-real phenomenon of the "false positives" – the euphemism used to describe army killings of young civilians passed off as guerrilla casualties.

Port of the Amazon indigenous community of San Miguel on the Pirá Paraná River, in the department of Vaupés, Colombia.  Credit:  María Cristina Vargas/IPS

COLOMBIA: Amazonas 2030 – Indicators for the Climate Crisis

"It's great news" that the Colombian government is studying the cancellation of mining titles that have been granted in protected areas and in border zones declared national security areas, anthropologist Martín von Hildebrand, director of the Gaia Amazonas Foundation, told Tierrramérica.

Port of the Amazon indigenous community of San Miguel on the Pirá Paraná River, in the department of Vaupés, Colombia. - María Cristina Vargas/IPS

Amazonas 2030: Indicators for the Climate Crisis

Official figures on the Colombian Amazon region are so lacking that the researchers who developed a new regional sustainability index specified that "it was difficult to obtain a large part of the data."

Vanesa Coicué's classmates paid homage to her in late September with traditional Nasa dances.  Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

COLOMBIA: When Humanitarian Law Is Just Rhetoric

The constant violations of international humanitarian law in Colombia claimed the life of an 11-year-old indigenous girl a month ago in the mountains of the southwest province of Cauca.

Vanesa Coicué's desk is empty. Her friends don't want to sit in that classroom anymore.  Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

COLOMBIA: “I Was Ready for Anything – Except for Mourning a Daughter”

In the wooden, sheet-metal roofed house, the exact spot where Vanesa Coicué, an 11-year-old Nasa Indian girl, fell is marked by white and yellow chrysanthemums in a plastic soda bottle, along with a lit candle and an orange tree seedling.

The centre of Toribío: in the back, the police station, and nearby homes destroyed by a bus bomb.  Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

COLOMBIA: Nasa Indians: “The Armed Groups Won’t Let Us Live in Peace”

Indigenous children in the southwestern Colombian province of Cauca do not know what peace is. For the government forces and the leftwing guerrillas, the territory of the Nasa people is a strategic battleground.

Barrancabermeja, July 2007 demonstration by members of the Organización Femenina Popular women

COLOMBIA: Victims of Sexual Violence Under Threat and on Their Own

"Another one? Another rape?" was the response Mari got at the Attorney General's Office in Colombia when she went to report what she had been through. "When they said that, I froze and got up and said 'Thank you, I’ll come back another day'," she told human rights defenders later.

Poster of Alfredo Correa de Andreis carried at a 2008 protest by victims of state crimes.  Credit: Jesús Abad Colorado/IPS

COLOMBIA: Uribe’s Former Intelligence Chief Sent to Prison

Jorge Noguera, a regional manager of former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe's (2002-2010) election campaign in 2002 and head of the secret police during the Uribe administration, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. "I trusted him; if he committed a crime it pains me, and I apologise to the people," Uribe said Wednesday.

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