lunes, 10 de febrero de 2014

Former president sees Colombian President's allies winning legislative majority

The former Colombian president Ernesto Samper Pizano was reported on 10 February as anticipating a victory in coming parliamentary elections for Liberals and progressive forces backing President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. Colombia is to hold elections on 9 March for 102 Senatorial seats and 166 seats of the lower house, the Chamber of Representatives. Mr Santos is backed by the U or Unity party but also the Liberals, and will compete with the Conservatives and the Democratic Centre, the party founded by his conservative predecessor Álvaro Uribe Vélez. These parties have vehemently criticised the peace talks begun by the Government in 2012 with the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Mr Samper, a Liberal, was President in 1994-98, though his presidency and name have become associated with political scandals and alleged campaign funding by drug traffickers. He said he expected the "reds," presumably Liberals and leftists, to win enough votes to become the "first political force" in the Senate, El Espectador reported. He estimated some 22 Senatorial seats going to the Liberals, 20 for the U party, 18 for the Conservative Party and 12 for the Democratic Centre. With the 10 seats he attributed to dissident Liberals in Cambio Radical and eight to the left-wing Polo Democrático Alternativo, Mr Samper effectively relegated conservative forces to the position of an impotant opposition. Polls and predictions have proved unreliable in the past as President Santos was expected to struggle against the Green candidate Antanas Mockus in the 2010 presidential elections, which he easily won. Former president Uribe separately denounced on 10 February talk of FARC members one day sitting in parliament as an "abuse" of the armed forces and an "offence" to the public, if the "terrorists" were to "go straight to Congress without paying with a single day in jail," El Espectador reported. Peace talks with the FARC envisage their integration in mainstream politics, once peace is signed. Santos had deceived Colombians he said, for once calling the FARC terrorists and now, "political actors." Since when, Uribe asked, "do political actors shoot down helicopters and recruit children here?"

Five guerrillas killed in fighting in Colombia, gangster surrenders

Colombian troops shot three fighters of the National Liberal Army (ELN) and two of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in recent fighting in different parts of the country, the Defence Ministry reported on 7 February. The ELN fighters were killed in the district of El Bagre in Antioquia and the two fighters of the FARC's Front 27 shot in Mesetas in Meta south of Bogotá. Arms, ammunition and communication equipment were confiscated after fighting, the Ministry stated. The Army separately reported on 10 February the discovery of two camps thought to belong to the ELN in Aguazul in the department of Casanare near Venezuela. Each camp was said to have capacity for some 15 guerrillas, but both appeared to have been abandoned. The Army regularly finds camps, drug processing workshops and arms caches around the country, these regularly being reported on its website. Separately, a suspect described as among the city's or country's 20 top criminals sought by Police reportedly surrendered in the north-central city of Medellín. Hernán Montoya, or Hernán, was identified as head of a gang known as La Loma, involved in kidnappings and extortions from shops and transport firms in two of the city's sectors, El Colombiano reported on 10 February. Police have said they undertook 18 operations against this gang in 2013 and arrested six of its members, El Espectador reported on 10 February.