Stories written by Helda Martínez

Protesting in the rain in Bolívar Square.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Student Protesters Demand Quality – and Equality

The "occupation" of Bogotá by students, backed by parents and professors as well as social and cultural sectors, is continuing even after the Colombian government offered to withdraw its controversial bill to reform education if the protests were called off.

COLOMBIA: Election Campaign Marred by Violence

"Political power will be fought for metre by metre in the Oct. 30 local and regional elections in Colombia, because this is a country imbued with violence, with different armies disputing different parts of the territory," said Alejandra Barrios, director of the election observation mission (MOE).

Sandra Sánchez, right, with a group of seniors at lunch time in the Oasis.  Credit: Helda Martinez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Women Make an Oasis in Violence-Wracked Neighbourhood

In one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Colombian capital, 26-year-old Sandra Sánchez has created an oasis that offers meals, recreational opportunities, company and much more to hundreds of children and elderly people, in an example of solidarity and leadership that has transcended borders.

Street vendors are the main beneficiaries of micro-loans in Colombia.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Microcredit Growing Steadily at 15 Percent a Year

The more than 1.2 million microenterprises operating in Colombia are responsible for around 50 percent of all employment. And many of these small businesses owe their existence to the microfinance system, according to a report by Visión Económica, a local business research group.

Emberá craftswomen on a street in Bogota.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Displaced Embera Indians a Long Way from Their Land

"I give something, you give something," an Emberá indigenous craftswoman displaying her beautiful handiwork on a sidewalk in the Colombian capital told this reporter, saying she would pose for a photo in exchange for selling a pair of earrings.

Marco Romero, president of the Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES).  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

Q&A: “Full Reparations Must Be Guaranteed” for Displaced Victims in Colombia

Human rights groups and small farmers' associations will keep close watch in Colombia to make sure the new Victims' and Land Restitution Law, signed by President Juan Manuel Santos Friday, is effectively implemented.

Liberal Party legislator Guillermo Rivera.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

Q&A: Land and Victims Law Crucial for Millions of Displaced Farmers in Colombia

The Victims and Land Restitution Law, signed Friday by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, "is an important message for reconciliation in the country," said lawmaker Guillermo Rivera, one of the sponsors of the law.

Displaced campesinos meeting to discuss land restitution plans.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Displaced Campesinos Want a Say on Land Restitution Bill

The Colombian government has been extolling a bill on Victims and Land Restitution which is being debated in Congress and is receiving extensive media coverage. But the demands of the victims themselves, forcibly displaced campesinos, are falling on deaf ears.

Manuel Elkin Patarroyo Credit: Manuel Elkin Patarroyo

HEALTH-COLOMBIA: Controversy Still Surrounds Malaria Vaccine Pioneer

The announcement of progress towards making synthetic vaccines against 517 infectious diseases, and the award of an international prize for his work have stirred up lively controversy around Colombian pathologist Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, a malaria vaccine pioneer.

COLOMBIA: Return of Land to Displaced Farmers Picks Up Steam

"Wholesale land titling" Colombia's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Juan Camilo Restrepo announced Tuesday, adding that titles would no longer only be handed over to individuals who file land claims, but to entire groups of people in specific rural areas.

CODHES director Jorge Rojas.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

Colombia: World Leader in Forced Displacement

"We want to shout out to the world, and no one will be able to keep us silent: forced displacement is still happening in Colombia, which is why we are asking for solidarity. We aren't terrorists, we aren't criminals; we are farmers whose dignity and rights have been stolen from us."

COLOMBIA: Increasingly Broad Social Movements Fight Mining

Social mobilisation against gold-mining is growing in Colombia, which is now one of the world's biggest per capita polluters of mercury, used in artisanal mining, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

COLOMBIA: Food Prices Rise after Record Rains

Food prices are set to rise in Colombia, due to the combined effects of soaring international prices and local crop losses after nine months of devastating rains. The government expects food prices to rise three percent in February, while independent analysts forecast an increase twice as high.

Ángela Orozco in her garden, in bad shape due to the unusually long, heavy rainy season. Credit:  Helda Martínez/ IPS

COLOMBIA: New Boost for Rural Women

"It sounds nice, but it’ll be tough to implement"; "the most important thing is to translate into reality": These statements by rural women leaders in Colombia sum up the reaction of activists to the government’s decision to revive and refinance a special fund for projects in the countryside led by women.

March towards Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá Credit: Courtesy of Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres

COLOMBIA: Voices of Women Peace Activists Silenced

"When we women speak out, without showing fear, we pay a high price: living with that fear," says one peace activist in Colombia. "The threats will not stop us from working for peace and social justice," says another.

« Previous PageNext Page »