News from Colombia
Is Colombia really ready for tourism?
Tourism is increasing in Colombia. When I first started visiting the country mine was the only gringo looking face on the plane. Now 50% of the people getting off in Bogota are not from the country. There is no doubt that tourism is up. That means that more places than just the cities are benefiting. Six towns received certifications of sustainable tourism. Twelve more places are convinced they are ready for tourists and awaiting the government to approve. An article in Colombia reports believes the country needs a tourism ministry.
UN report on Human rights in Colombia
The United Nations Human Rights Watch Report is out. A very interesting read it covers many areas including guerrillas, paramilitary, human rights defenders, journalists and international actors. Under the later the report states, "The United States remains the most influential foreign actor in Colombia. At time of writing, the US Congress was moving forward with approval of more than US$390 million in aid; mostly for development and drug enforcement. A portion of US military aid is subject to human rights conditions, which the US Department of State has not rigorously enforced."
U.S. Money to help with Venezuelans
We noticed a problem several months ago when people would enter the Bogota mass transportation system, announce they were from Venezuela, and since the currency from their country could purchase very little there, they wanted to sell you bills of 100 Bolivars for whatever change you cared to give them. More recently we encounter people on the street selling plastic trash bags but first announcing they are Venezuelans and need help. Colombia already is second in the world with its own displaced persons. Now it is estimated that about a half million people have fled Venezuela to Colombia. Over the last several years Colombia received over $7 Billion dollars making it the largest recipient of U.S. taxpayer dollars in the Western Hemisphere. The United States has now committed $2.5 million to help the country out with the Venezuelan refugees. That amount is to be only a beginning of U.S support. The European Union is said to be kicking in another $10 million.
Military killed more civilians than terrorists?
It first began with the discovery of "false positives" in which the Colombian military would kill civilians then dress them up in guerrilla uniforms. Now in a book titled, EJECUCIONES EXTRAJUDICIALES EN COLOMBIA, 2002-2010. OBEDIENCIA CIEGA EN CAMPOS DE BATALLA FICTICIOS (Extrajudicial Executions in Colombia, 2002-2010 – Blind Obedience in Fictitious Battlefields), authors Omar Eduardo Rojas and Fabián Leonardo Benavides claim that under the presidential administration of Alvaro Uribe more civilians were murdered than terrorists. Rojas, a sociologist and former police colonel, is quoted on a webpage of Hacemos Memoria organization with, "En las 180 unidades militares que están distribuidas por todo el país, se sentaban personas con uniforme para determinar dónde iban a simular un combate, de dónde iban a sacar muchachos para asesinarlos, quién ejecutaría el crimen y de dónde iba a salir el presupuesto para la compra de armas, municiones, panfletos y computadores.” (In the 180 military units that are distributed in the country, people in uniform would sit down to determine where combat would be simulated, from where the boys who would be assassinated would come, who would execute the crime and from where the budget would come from for the purchase of weapons, munitions, pamphlets and computers.)
The book and article are only available in Spanish at this time.
Corruption in Colombian congress?
A couple years back a report stated that the Colombian congress was the most corrupt institution in the country. Recently 268 lawmakers were elected to serve for the 2018 to 2022 term. According to Fundación Paz & Reconciliación (Peace and Reconciliation Foundation) 42 or over 15% of those elected are already accused or being investigated for corruption or they are the relative of known corrupt officials. The NGO report written in Spanish can be read HERE. For a synopsis in English click on THIS LINK.
Could peace process in Colombia be in trouble; depends on who wins the election
Over at Telsure an article covers how the presidential candidates feel about the current peace process continuing as is. Seems that only one candidate wants to change things. If elected could he derail the process?
Thank you for reading. We wish you an enjoyable day.