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October 28, 2007
Local Elections Today in Colombia
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

The basics are here, via El Tiempo: Se abrieron las urnas en todo el territorio nacional.

Colombians will today elect Mayors, Governors, Departmental Assemblies, and Municipal Councils.

The most interesting race is for the Mayor’s office in Bogotá between Enrique Peñalosa and Samuel Moreno Rojas of the Polo Democrático.

Peñalosa previously served as mayor from 1998-2001.

Moreno is the likely winner. Via the IHT: Leftist leads in Colombia’s capital as nation votes following violent campaign:

Samuel Moreno, grandson of a military dictator, held a lead of 40 percent to 22 percent over independent former Mayor Enrique Penalosa, according to a poll published Saturday by the newspaper El Tiempo. The survey by the Datexco company had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

Moreno’s Alternative Democratic Pole already governs Bogota, but consecutive victories would be a boost for his party ahead of the 2010 presidential race. With nearly 7 million people, the capital is home to a sixth of Colombia’s population.

The CSM has an interesting article that addresses the question of the effects of both the parapolitica scandal and the demobilization of some of the paramilitaries: New Colombian political trend: Choice.

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October 11, 2007
Former Colombian Justice Minister & Senator Convicted in 1989 Assassination of Presidential Candidate Luis Carlos Galan
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN: Ex-Colombian justice minister convicted in ‘89 killing

A former justice minister was convicted Thursday of masterminding the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, a cartel-fighting politician.

Alberto Santofimio was sentenced to 24 years in prison by a Bogota court for ordering a hit squad belonging to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar to kill Galan in 1989 to boost his own candidacy and prevent Escobar’s extradition to the United States.

[…]

Santofimio was running for the Liberal Party nomination against Galan, whose charisma and perceived moral rectitude drew comparisons to John F. Kennedy. Escobar and members of his Medellin cartel feared Galan’s victory would mean their extradition from Colombia to the United States.

The 63-year old Santofimio, who was a senator and justice minister in the 1970s, was known as the “political godfather” of Escobar. In 1995, he was convicted and spent four years in prison for taking money from drug traffickers.

Santofimio was arrested in this case back in May of 2005.

Bravo to the Colombian justice system for bringing him to justice in this horrid crime.

El Tiempo’s coverage can be found here:
Condenan a 24 años de prisión al ex senador Alberto Santofimio por homicidio de Luis Carlos Galán

Filed under: Justicia | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
October 5, 2007
Uribe Cousin Quits Senate in Context of Paramilitary Investigation
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Uribe ally quits Colombia Senate

A cousin of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has resigned from the Senate to avoid a Supreme Court inquiry into whether he had ties to paramilitaries.

Mario Uribe’s resignation comes amid a scandal that has seen dozens of politicians accused of paramilitary links and 14 jailed awaiting trial.

His case now goes from the Supreme Court, which investigates lawmakers, to the regular court system.

Mr Uribe’s lawyer said this would give his client more opportunity to appeal.

This is a legal maneuver to drag out the investigation, as his status as a normal citizen, rather than a Senator, changes the nature of the investigation.

The context:

To date, inquiries have been opened into dozens of lawmakers over their alleged ties to the United Self-defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries in what has been dubbed the “parapolitics” scandal.

The paramilitaries were created by landowners and drug-traffickers to combat left-wing rebels and anyone suspected of being a sympathiser.

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September 29, 2007
A Dramatic Defection from the FARC
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Farc woman steals plane to desert

An armed female member of Colombia’s Farc rebel group hijacked a small plane to escape her “tortuous life” with the guerrillas, police have said.

The woman, who was identified only by her alias “Angelica,” took over the plane at an airstrip in Puerto Principe, in eastern Colombia.

Carrying a rifle, machete, knife and 150 bullets, she forced the pilot to fly her to the city of Villavicencio.

[…]

Police said the hijacker would not be charged with a crime and would be admitted to the government’s rebel rehabilitation programme.

Wild.

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September 20, 2007
Medellín’s Image and the Pending FTA
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Bloomberg’s Amity Shales considers in an opinion piece: Medellin Wonders What Pelosi, Sweeney are Smoking.

The piece looks at the lingering Escobar-inspired image of the city and argues for the ratification of the free trade agreement with the US.

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Colombian Imports on the Rise
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters: Colombia imports grew 12.5 pct in August-report

Colombia’s imports expanded 12.5 percent in August compared with the same month a year earlier, driven by strong domestic demand, according to preliminary government figures.

[…]

According to the DIAN, the country’s imports rose 24.8 percent to $20.68 billion in the January-August period compared with $16.57 billion registered in the same eight-month period a year earlier.

All of which are signs of positive economic growth. Further, the story notes an influx of foreign investment.

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September 2, 2007
Political Acronyms
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Looking for a list of political acronyms from Colombia? UCSD’s Social Science and Humanities Library has one/: Colombia: Acronyms.

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August 28, 2007
US Seeks Extradition of AUC Commander
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Remember the AUC member who was stripped of his cease-fire privileges that I mentioned the other day? Well, the US has requested his extradition (via the BBC: US seeks Colombian paramilitary):

Colombia said Jimenez violated a peace agreement by continuing to organise cocaine shipments and run a criminal empire from prison.

Jimenez is wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges

[…]

He is the first jailed warlord to lose benefits agreed under a 2003 peace deal which led paramilitary leaders to surrender and demobilise 31,000 of their men in exchange for reduced jail terms and extradition protection.

The Uribe administration has been quite willing to extradite such persons to the US, so the track record suggests that they will do so here. Further since, Jimenez was caught breaking the demobilization agreement, I suspect that the Colombian government will want to make an example of him. Given that one of the things that narcos have wanted to avoid is extradition to the US this situation will give Uribe a chance to send a signal to the other AUC commanders: behave or be sent to the US for trial.=.

Filed under: US-Colombian Relations, Drogas, Paramilitares | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 25, 2007
Imprisoned AUC Commander Loses Demobilization Benefits
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia warlord loses benefits

The authorities said they had evidence that Carlos Jimenez, also known as Macaco, was continuing to smuggle drugs and run a criminal empire from prison.

He has been transferred to Colombia’s most secure prison, Combita, and will be tried as an ordinary criminal.

Jimenez could also be extradited to the US although no request has been made.

The move means Jimenez loses the benefits given to demobilised paramilitaries, including shorter sentences.

The idea that Jimenez could have been continuing criminal activities in prison is hardly a surprise. Indeed, for anyone familiar with Colombia’s track record on curtailing criminal activity by high profile prisoners, this news will likely elicit nothing more than a yawn.

The interesting part is that Jimenez’s actions are in violation of the demobilization agreement between the government at the paramilitary group known at the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The real question now will be if the Colombia justice system actually succeeds in treating Jimenez like a common criminal, and it will be quite interesting to see if the US seeks his extradition. From there the real question will be if this will dissuade other imprisoned AUC commanders from continuing their criminal activities.

Filed under: Justicia, Paramilitares | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
August 8, 2007
Another Narcosub Found
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Colombia navy seizes sub in coke probe - 08/07/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

Colombia’s navy seized a 65-foot submarine that likely was used to haul tons of cocaine on part of its journey to the United States, officials said Tuesday.

No drugs were found or arrests made when the fiberglass submarine was discovered Sunday in a swampy mangrove about six miles off the northernmost point of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

The blue-colored, diesel-powered vessel had sophisticated communications systems and was capable of carrying up to 11 tons of cocaine

I say “another” in the title, as there have been several of these types of thing seized over the years. It is always an excellent illustration of the lengths to which smugglers will (and can, given the profits) go to move their product.

Filed under: Drogas | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
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