With the signing of a peace deal between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (better known as FARC), the Western Hemisphere has no active wars for the first time in six decades. [more inside]
Cocaine - how it's made, how it moves, and who might be cutting it with a deadly cattle-deworming drug, a follow up to the mystery of the tainted cocaine.
Ingrid Betancourt has reportedly been rescued by the Colombian Army. The former presidential candidate had been held hostage since 2002 by the FARC. Ever since, an intense campaign for her release had mobilised, among others, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (not always very wisely). Recent pictures of her weren't particularly reassuring. Ultimately, it apppears that the repeated raids of the Colombian armed forces have been more successful in securing her release. Now, let's hope the other 700 hostages follow.
A high ranking FARC leader, Paul Reyes, was killed during a Columbian raid into Ecuador. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, responded and ordered ten battalions to the Columbian border, threatening a key regional ally of the United States. Some think it is just more bluster by Chavez. Meanwhile Air Force 2 is in Aruba; which is just 18 miles off the coast. Also Exxon-Mobil was recently cut off from Venezuela's oil.
Colombia's FARC rebels hold over 3000 current hostages, including soldiers, lawmakers, presidential candidates, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, a Turk, 291 children (including one born in captivity who is the youngest hostage in the world), and a disillusioned Dutch convert whose diary was recently discovered. Family members of the kidnapped can send messages to their loved ones on a popular radio show. More about Colombian kidnappings in Silvana Paternostro's captivating memoir My Colombian War.
The Octopus in the Cathedral of Salt, an investigative essay on the link between the Chiquita banana company and Colombian paramilitary organization AUC.
The Octopus in the Cathedral of Salt is an investigative essay by Phillip Robertson with pictures by photojournalist Carlos Villalon on the link between the Chiquita banana company and Colombian paramilitary organization AUC. Excerpt: We were drinking Aguilas and the night was winding down and I was half-listening to the conversation. Everyone else had gone downstairs. Carlos turned to me and said, “Is there anything you want to ask him before he goes home?” “I want to know if he heard anything about a shipment of guns that arrived at the Chiquita docks.” Years had passed, but it was worth a shot. “Sure,” Lorenzo said, “I was there. I supervised the unloading of the rifles.” [more inside]
Tanja Nijmeijer is a Dutch woman who joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). They found her diaries and a movie (Dutch version). [more inside]
Were these guys birdwatchers, or IRA members training FARC guerillas in improvised explosive techniques? Suddenly, mysteriously back on Irish soil, the "Colombia 3" - James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley - have caused a shitstorm for Bertie Ahern and his ministers; especially in the wake of the newly announced IRA disarmament.
the things people will do for a gig nowadays... sad times. sad times. :)