martes, 6 de agosto de 2013

Colombian committee to talk to protesters from deprived zone

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón appointed a committee that would begin talks on 6 August with representatives of protesters from the deprived Catabumbo region in northern Colombia, the setting of violence, strikes and road blocks since early June. Media have described the Catatumbo as an area historically neglected by the state, subject to insecurity, illegal mining, criminal and guerrilla activities and recently protests over the state's attempt to eradicate coca farming, a source of income for poor families. Protesters earlier removed several road blocks as the Government had insisted it would not talk until transportation was allowed to resume. In recent weeks protesters received verbal support - and some ministers and politicians alleged more than that - from the country's two communist guerrilla forces and from certain left-wing politicians. The sides were to discuss local peasants' demands including suspension of or change in the government's mining policies in that area, which have favoured the activities of multinational mining firms, compensation for the eradication of coca plots and determination of an area reserved for subsistence or peasant farming and presumably protected from agro-industrial encroachments, the daily El Colombiano reported on 6 August. The negotiating committee the President appointed included the deputy-ministers of Labour, Defence, Interior and Agriculture and the head of the state planning authority DNP, the broadcaster Caracol reported, citing the President's comments on the website Twitter.

Colombia detains crime suspects, bomb defused in Bogotá

The Defence Ministry reported on 6 August the arrests on 4 or 5 August of 18 suspected members of the Urabeños, one of Colombia's main criminal gangs, in 17 raids carried out in districts of the northern department of Antioquia. The courts had previously ordered the suspects detained on charges including of criminal conspiracy and they were thought involved in crimes that included extortion, drug trafficking and murder, the Ministry website stated. Some of the detained were identified as local chiefs including the gang's "military chief" in north-eastern Antioquia, its "chief financial officer" presumably in that area and a coordinator of its hired killers. On 3 August, President Juan Manuel Santos qualified as successful the "security marathon" he said police had undertaken across the country in the preceding 72 hours, which led to 1,660 arrests in 27 cities. Mr Santos was speaking at a gathering of Colombian mayors in the district of Villavicencio in central Colombia, Radio Santa Fe reported. He said 336 of the detained were the subjects of arrest warrants and 11 could be extradited; police confiscated in total "more than one tonne of cocaine" and three tonnes of marijuana, he added. In Bogotá, police arrested three suspects on 5 or 6 August identified as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after an attempt by three men to bomb a shopping centre and its surrounding area in Usme in southern Bogotá, the broadcaster RCN reported. About 5,000 people were evacuated from a shopping centre and residential compound near the explosive device, after a guard reported to police that three men were seen on 5 August leaving a suspected bomb in a bin.