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April 27, 2007
Colombia Hit with Massive Blackout
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Nationwide blackout hits Colombia

Colombia has been hit by a nationwide power cut, hitting commercial centres and causing chaos on the roads.

Ten people were trapped in lifts and the stock exchange was forced to suspend trading, officials said.

They said the blackout, at about 1015 local time (1515 GMT), was caused by an undetermined technical failure at a substation in the capital, Bogota.

More than 80% of Colombia was affected. Power returned to most parts of the country after several hours.

Only some rural regions were still being affected by the blackout, officials said.

[…]

Luis Alarcon, manager of state-controlled electricity company ISA, said the power outage began at Bogota’s substation and quickly spread over the country.

Mr Alarcon said the incident was not caused by a left-wing rebel attack.

It was my personal experience that Colombian utilities were not known for their redundancy, such as the long weekend when they had to do maintenance on the main aqueduct going into Bogota and so then we had no water in the most of the city for two-plus days. (Although since then I think an additional aqueduct has been built).

And there were the rolling blackouts in Bogota during the early 1990s when drought conditions hampered the hydroelectric power plants.

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April 19, 2007
Progress with the ELN
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia backs ELN ceasefire plan

Colombia’s government has agreed to a temporary ceasefire proposed by the country’s second-largest rebel group, its senior peace negotiator has said.

Peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said any accord with the National Liberation Army (ELN) would not begin until rebels ended their campaign.

No specific details of the “temporary and experimental” ceasefire have been agreed yet, Mr Restrepo said.

[…]

The ELN proposed the ceasefire agreement on Monday, saying it was ready to begin temporary disarmament in an effort to create a viable atmosphere for peace.

Now the government of President Alvaro Uribe appears to have agreed to the proposal, under strict conditions.

“We accept the proposal that the ceasefire be experimental and temporary,” Mr Restrepo said.

Hopefully these talks will actually lead to demobilization.

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April 10, 2007
Car Bomb Attack on Police HQ in Cali, Colombia
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Car bomb hits Colombia police HQ

A large car bomb has exploded in front of police headquarters in Colombia’s south-west city of Cali, the first such attack in a major city for four years.

Officials said the blast, which killed one person and injured more than 30, was most likely the work of Farc, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

But drug traffickers, paramilitaries or common criminals have not been ruled out as suspects.

Remarkably, no one in the building was killed. The only fatality was a passing taxi driver.

As noted above by the BBC, this is the first such attack (and a very brazen one) in some time, raising questions about what is going on:

The BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Medellin says the authorities blame the Farc and if true, it shows the guerrillas have returned to the campaign of urban terrorism they abandoned four years ago.

[…]

The timing of the attack raises questions, with the second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), due to sit down this week with government officials to discuss a possible peace deal.

The Farc have accused the group of treason and are seeking to win over dissident ELN guerrillas that want to keep fighting - and a high-profile display of strength may be the way to do so, our correspondent says.

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April 4, 2007
Colombia Seeks Arrest of Israelis Who Allegedly Trained Paramilitaries
By Dr. Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Colombia seeks Israelis’ arrests

International arrest warrants have been issued for three Israeli men wanted in Colombia in connection with the alleged training of paramilitary fighters.

Yair Klein, Melnik Ferry and Tzedaka Abraham are accused of giving military training in the 1990s to landowners’ and drug-traffickers’ private armies.

Prosecutors say those trained went on to carry out some of the country’s most notorious political assassinations.

Some of the fighters went on to form a right-wing paramilitary group, the AUC.

Prosecutors have also accused the three men of working for the then powerful Medellin drugs cartel to create a personal army for its leader, Pablo Escobar.

An interesting mirror image of the allegations against the three IRA members who were charged with aiding the FARC.

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