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Governor of Colombia's largest province arrested on corruption charges

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March 4, 2021
Colombia’s prosecution placed the governor of the country’s largest province, Antioquia, under house arrest on corruption charges on Wednesday.
Governor Anibal Gaviria, a member of the notorious Gaviria Clan, was detained in his office in Medellin over a suspicious budget increase for an upgrade of the so-called “Peace Backbone” road.
The prosecution said it placed the governor under house arrest for the second time since taking office last year after pressing criminal charges before the Supreme Court, which is supposed to investigate the alleged corruption.
Gaviria gave the green light to upgrade part of the so-called “Peace Backbone” road for $11.4 billion (COP41.7 trillion) after taking office as governor for the first time in 2004.

Medellin: Colombia's extrajudicial execution capital

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February 21, 2021
The metropolitan area of Colombia’s second largest city Medellin became the capital of extrajudicial executions when President Alvaro Uribe was in office.
At least 354 Medellin residents were executed by the security forces between 2002 and 2008, according to the country’s war crimes tribunal.
The investigation into extrajudicial executions overlaps a second investigation into the hundreds of people who disappeared in Medellin during the armed conflict.
Where were the mayors and governors?
The investigation again calls into question the role of Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria, former Governor Luis Perez and presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo.
The role of Fajardo and Gaviria in forced disappearance in Medellin and their apparent attempts to wipe the war crimes under the rug were already being investigated by the JEP.

The president's bosses | Part 2: Colombia's clans

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February 19, 2021
The power of Colombia’s president depends on his ability to manage the sometimes opposing interests of those who really control the country, like the so-called clans.
While formally a democracy, all presidents of the 21st century have had no choice but to balance serving the public interest with private and even criminal interests.
This unstable balance of power is partly due to the country’s political history and culture, and partly a consequence of the country’s armed conflict.
The origins
Bogota‘s inability to exercise political power on a national level since the beginning of the republic has perpetuated a regional clan culture, particularly along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts where slavery was most common.

Colombia's failing state | Part 1: Antioquia and the art of decapitation

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February 2, 2021
“We are happy!” the governor of Antioquia tweeted Monday, ignoring the decapitated head of a community leader found on the main square of a village in the north of the province two days before.
Terrorism has been a major revenue generator for the businesses of the Gaviria family and still doesn’t seem to concern Governor Anibal Gaviria.
The governor constructed apartment buildings over mass graves when he was mayor of Medellin and Gaviria’s alleged negligence plunged Antioquia in crisis before.
The most brutal of five
Miguel Barrientos from Yarumal became the fifth assassinated social leader in Antioquia in January alone, but was by far the most brutal, according to Antioquia Police commander Colonel Jorge Miguel Cabra.

Westfalia Fruit Colombia visited by governor of Antoquia

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Westfalia Fruit Colombia visited by governor of Antoquia
Westfalia Fruit Colombia was honoured to receive a visit recently from the Governor of Antioquia, Anibal Gaviria, and the Mayor of Sonson, among other dignitaries. After touring the operation’s state-of-the-art packhouse in Sonson, the Governor later tweeted about the avocado bringing hope and opportunities to both rural families and local exporters. Plans are in place to upgrade roads and other infrastructure in the region to support economic growth and social upliftment.
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Colombia urges caution to prevent COVID surge during holidays

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Colombia urges caution to prevent COVID surge during holidays
December 15, 2020
Mayors and governors throughout Colombia are concerned over a possible second surge in COVID-19 infections during the holiday season.
Contrary to the United States and Europe, Colombia has been spared a second surge of the coronavirus after a peak in September.
The country’s aviation authorities have been struggling to resume international air travel, which has allowed health authorities keeping the pandemic under control with relatively mild measures.
Both national and local authorities have expressed concern about the holidays, however, as Christmas celebrations traditionally consist of a month of social activities that could trigger outbreaks.

Can Sergio Fajardo teach Colombia that negligence can be as harmful as corruption?

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Can Sergio Fajardo teach Colombia that negligence can be as harmful as corruption?
December 14, 2020
Charges against presidential hopeful Sergio Fajardo indicate how negligence in Colombia’s politics may be as damaging as corruption.
Fajardo, a former mayor of Medellin and a former governor, received global recognition as mayor of Medellin, a position he held between 2003 and 2007.
Fajardo’s Medellin façades
Extradited Medellin crime lord “Don Berna.”
Fajardo gladly took credit for the city’s dropping homicide rate and named the crown piece of his library program after King Carlos of Spain, who inaugurated the building.
The man who deserved the credit for the dropping homicide rate was crime lord “Don Berna,” whose Oficina de Envigado made murder victims disappear so they wouldn’t appear in the statistics.

Colombia's comptroller general holds politicians responsible for $1B dam debacle

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December 4, 2020
Colombia’s comptroller general said Thursday that one presidential candidate and two former governors will personally have to account for the $1 billion lost due to negligence at the country’s largest hydroelectric dam project.
Among the 18 former officials who are charged over the Hidroituango debacle are presidential hopeful Sergio Fajardo, Antioquia governor Anibal Gaviria, former Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos and former Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar.
Their alleged negligence led to the near collapse of the dam in 2018, months before it was projected to be inaugurated, according to Comptroller General Luis Felipe Cordoba.
Former Governor Luis Perez and former Mayor Federico Gutierrez, who were in office at the time of the emergency, were left off the hook.

Colombia shocked by two massacres on one day as Duque goes mute

Colombia shocked by two massacres on one day as Duque goes mute
November 23, 2020
Colombia’s far-right President Ivan Duque went mute on Sunday after two massacres made it painfully clear how his government is sinking the country into violent chaos.
A massacre in Betania, a small town in the southwest of the Antioquia province, became the 76th this year and left seven people dead and three people injured.
2020 massacre victims in Colombia
Antioquia: paramilitaries and massacres
“Ten heavily armed men arrived at the farm and shot indiscriminately at 14 people who were staying there. Seven were killed and three wounded” on Saturday evening, according to Mayor Carlos Mario Villada, who blamed the latest bloodbath on a dispute between drug dealers.

President Duque expresses condolences after mudslide kills 3e in Colombia

President Duque expresses condolences after mudslide kills 3e in Colombia
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BOGOTA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Ivan Duque sent his condolences on Saturday to the families of three people who were killed in a mudslide in the municipality of Dabeiba, in the Antioquia department.
The mudslide was caused by recent heavy rains in the area, and the president asked the authorities to begin to develop disaster prevention actions in other adjacent departments.
Leyton Urrego, mayor of the affected municipality, said that in addition to the three fatalities, 12 people have been reported missing.
Alberto Diaz, director of the Uramita Risk Management Office, told local media that due to heavy rains and rockfalls, search and rescue efforts have been suspended.

Copper mafia kicking Medellin off the grid: internet provider

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Copper mafia kicking Medellin off the grid: internet provider
October 30, 2020
Colombia’s illegal copper trade is threatening Medellin‘s communication infrastructure, the city’s main internet provider confirmed Thursday.
Tigo Une, the company that owns much of the city’s communication infrastructure, told Colombia Reports on Thursday that it had registered a 438% increase in theft of its infrastructure, primarily copper cables, over the past year.
The mass theft of its infrastructure cost the company almost $830,000 in the first half of 2020 and is grinding communication in Colombia’s second largest city is grinding to a halt, according to Tigo Une.
The company said to be overwhelmed as it lacks the manpower to repair the damage and is running out of stock.

How to steal land the size of a small country | Part VI: business culture

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How to steal land the size of a small country | Part VI: business culture
September 8, 2020
Stealing land from displaced farmers became part of the business culture in Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia province during Colombia’s armed conflict, a recent study indicates.
NGO Forjando Futuros, which monitors land restitution, found that using terror to accumulate land, a strategy invented by local landowners in the 1980s, eventually became the region’s business culture.
According to the NGO’s database, courts have so far issued more than 21,000 land restitution orders in Antioquia, almost three times as much as in the Cesar province.

The narco history of Colombia's security forces

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The narco history of Colombia’s security forces | Part 2: Medellin
June 29, 2020
The Medellin Police Department and Colombia’s 4th Army Brigade played a key role in the Medellin Cartel and the formation of what is now known as the Oficina de Envigado.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Colombian marijuana was in fashion in the United States, the so-called “gentlemen of drugs” as narcos like Pablo Escobar, were considered respectable businessmen who received support from the local police department and the 4th Brigade.
The gentlemen from Medellin provided the Caribbean mafia with pot from the surrounding Antioquia province and even as far south as Cauca.

Colombia arrests cops who discovered 2018 election fraud plot

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Colombia arrests cops who discovered 2018 election fraud plot
June 7, 2020
Colombia’s prosecution arrested the policemen who accidentally discovered a 2018 election rigging plot between the far-right party of President Ivan Duque and drug traffickers.
The arrest of Major Yefferson Tocarruncho and Sergeant Wadith Velasquez went almost unnoticed because chief prosecutor Francisco Barbosa caused a political hurricane by ordering the arrest of Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria on vague corruption charges.
Former President Alvaro Uribe (L) and late mafia associate Luis Guillermo Hernandez. (Image: Instagram)
Ironically, the investigators who discovered the election fraud scandal are now in jail while those suspected of plotting to rig the 2018 elections are free, with the exception of Jose Guillermo Hernandez, a.k.a. “El Ñeñe,” who was murdered in Brazil in May last year.

How to steal land the size of a small country | Part V: the Medellin elite

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How to steal land the size of a small country | Part V: the Medellin elite
February 19, 2020
Medellin‘s elite and friends of Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe were among the main beneficiaries of the dispossession of more than 3 million hectares of land, an area the size of Belgium.
According to Jairo Bayuelo, a middleman in the gigantic land heist, wealthy families and corporations from Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia province embarked on a land-buying binge in the Montes de Maria region after the military killed FARC commander “Martin Caballero” in the region in 2007.
The Democratic Security land heist
The rebel leader’s death was “part of the first phase of a new war plan to consolidate the Democratic Security plan, the banner of the government of Alvaro Uribe,” military sources told newspaper El Pais.

Governors reject government plans to resume aerial fumigation of coca in Colombia

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Governors reject government plans to resume aerial fumigation of coca in Colombia
January 9, 2020
The governors of the provinces where most of Colombia’s coca is grown have rejected the national government’s intentions to resume the aerial fumigation of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine.
The new governors of Antioquia, Nariño, Cauca, Putumayo and Norte de Santander all have expressed their support to use rural development and voluntary crop substitution to curb cocaine production.
The administration of President Ivan Duque published a draft decree last month that would allow it to resume the aerial fumigation using the possibly carcinogenic chemical glyphosate.

How to steal land the size of a small country and get away with it

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How to steal land the size of a small country and get away with it | Part IV: the head check
October 21, 2019
Colombia’s Inspector General formally requested a head-check for a judge who intimidated a conflict victim after she requested the restitution of stolen land.
The jaw-dropping incident happened during the hearing of a 65-year-old woman whose land in Chigorodo, Antioquia, was dispossessed by an alleged business associate of now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC.
The displaced farmer, Maria Murillo, is one of 120,000 farmers who say their land was dispossessed by businessmen who in some cases colluded with death squads in one of the biggest land heists since Spanish colonization.

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