Stories written by Javier Darío Restrepo

Uribe and Other Hurdles for Colombia’s Land Law

Although it was to be expected, former president Álvaro Uribe's return to politics in Colombia has caused a stir and has a clear aim: to block two of his successor Juan Manuel Santos's pet projects -- reparations to victims of the armed conflict and the restoration of land to displaced peasant farmers.

Land Reform, a Top Priority of New Colombian Government

Although many believe it's a mission impossible, the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos is prepared to use all necessary resources to return their land to some four million peasants displaced by the war, and guarantee intensive use of the country's arable land, as part of an ambitious agricultural policy.

Ruling Against US Access to Bases Helps Ease Colombia’s Isolation

When the Colombian government announced in November that it had reached a deal to give the U.S. armed forces access to seven military bases, the news provoked surprise and protests, like when an unfair clause is discovered in a contract that was blindly signed.

Military checkpoint on the Atrato River. Credit: Jesús Abad Colorado/IPS

COLOMBIA: Palm Planters and Displaced People Wait for New Government

Twenty-three African palm plantation owners, who invested 34 million dollars in Colombia up to 2003 and have spent another 15 million dollars on a palm oil refinery, are soon to be sentenced by a court.

COLOMBIA: Future Holds More of the Same

Few doubt that former defence minister Juan Manuel Santos will be the next president of Colombia, and that he will continue the policies of President Álvaro Uribe. Santos, as Uribe's heir, will basically be more of the same.

Jesuit priest Javier Giraldo. Credit: Jesús Abad Colorado/IPS

COLOMBIA: “Death Threats Have Become Routine,” Says Jesuit Priest

The death threats against Catholic priest Javier Giraldo painted on walls in the Colombian capital may have come from far-right paramilitaries, the military, drug trafficking gangs or groups with interests in African oil palm plantations.

Poster on Facebook page. Credit: Antanas Mockus campaign

A ‘Green’ President for Colombia?

Colombian presidential candidate Antanas Mockus of the Green Party has been gaining as many as 10,000 new fans a day on Facebook. From just 200 friends at the start, he now has more than 450,000.

Juan Manuel Santos with President Álvaro Uribe.  Credit: "Santos Presidente" campaign web site

COLOMBIA: “Body Count” Scandal Haunts Uribe’s Candidate

The front-runner in the polls for Colombia's presidential elections, Juan Manuel Santos, has come under fire from his rivals for his role in the scandal over young civilians killed by the army and passed off as guerrilla casualties, which broke out while he was defence minister.

Jorge Rojas, president of the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (in foreground). Credit: Constanza Vieira/IPS

COLOMBIA: Vote-Buying and Front Men

During Sunday's legislative elections in Colombia - in which rightwing President Álvaro Uribe's allies were the big winners - polling stations in one-third of the country's municipalities were at risk of violence, corruption or fraud, according to the ombudsman's office and election observers, who reported vote-buying and pressure on voters.

Last cover of Cambio news magazine. Credit: Revista Cambio

COLOMBIA: Magazine Closure Deals Major Blow to Investigative Reporting

What would have happened in Colombia if the financing of former president Ernesto Samper's (1994-1998) election campaign by the Cali cartel had not been uncovered?

COLOMBIA: Neutrality Impossible for Indigenous Groups

The latest killings of Awá Indians in southern Colombia – 12 members of a family, including four children and three teenagers –, the forced displacement of hundreds of native villagers, and death threats against indigenous leaders and teachers are signs indicating that their demand to be considered neutral in the armed conflict is still being ignored.

COLOMBIA: A Country in Flight

While the street sweepers clean up huge piles of rubbish in the Tercer Milenio park in the centre of the Colombian capital, young police officers have been posted there to prevent any more people displaced from their rural homes by the armed conflict from trying to camp there.

COLOMBIA: Half Century of US Military Presence

In the 1960s, it went by the name of Latin American Security Operation, or Plan LASO; today it is known as Plan Colombia. Back then, the aim was to weed out communism; now it is to combat drug trafficking, while at the same time dealing a blow to the guerrillas.

COLOMBIA: All the President’s Spies

Colombian journalist Hollman Morris phoned an international news agency and said in an agitated voice: "I am being followed by the police."

COLOMBIA: Moving Towards a Paramilitary State?

Visibly indignant, former Colombian president César Gaviria (1990-1994) denounced this week what he called an "appalling" article in a draft political reform law currently under debate in Congress.


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