Monthly Archives: September 2013

Uribe aide joins list calling for Obdulio to leave Senate race

Fernando Londoño, a close ally of former President Alvaro Uribe and a minister during his first administration, on Monday joined a group of politicians calling for former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria to end his candidature for the Senate.

Jose Obdulio Gaviria, a cousin of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar, is presently on the “Uribista” electoral list for the Senate but fellow candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga has begun a campaign to have him removed due to offensive remarks that Gaviria made on his twitter account.

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Negotiations continue in Avianca pay dispute

Managers and pilots of Colombia’s biggest airline, Avianca, returned to the negotiating table for the fourth time to attempt to reach agreement over pay.

Members of the Fliers Organization of Avianca (Odeaa) have been taking industrial action for over a week, leading to the cancelation of around 200 flights. The pilots are taking part in a “zero extra work action,” similar to work-to-rule, and are asking for a salary increase to match inflation plus 25% for pilots and a 27.93% increase for co-pilots.

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FARC leader vows to not break peace talks confidentiality agreement

The leader of Colombia’s largest armed rebel group, the FARC, has hit back at government accusations that his comments about a speech made by president Santos were aimed at derailing negotiations.

Government representatives and commentators in the media had accused Timoleon Jimenez, alias “Timochenko,” of violating terms to the talks taking place between the Santos administration and the FARC in Havana.

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Compensation for families of FARC victims struck down

A court in the southwest of Colombia has overruled the decision of a lower court to award compensation to the family members of eleven assembly members who were kidnapped and assassinated by the FARC.

The Administrative Court of Valle del Cauca overturned a previous ruling which had mandated that Police, the Ministry of Defence and the Government of Valle make payments of compensation.

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Colombia establishes financial mechanism to aid exporters

Colombia’s state-owned commercial bank Bancoldex announced the creation of a financial instrument for exporters for mitigating risk in international trade negotiations.

The new device, called the Compra de Cartera Internacional, is also said to allow entrepreneurs to receive their money in a timely manner, improve cash flow and increase sales to foreign buyers. It is intended specifically for companies that export to countries in which they have allied banks, such as Ecuador, Peru , Mexico and Brazil. It is also said to have benefits for importers such as better payment terms and improved line of credit.

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Colombia’s ‘oldest paramilitary’ admits crimes

The man unofficially known as Colombia’s “oldest paramilitary” has accepted responsibility for a range of crimes including forced displacement, conscription of children and violence against women, during a trial that recommenced on Monday.

Ramon Isaza, known as “El Viejo” and described as Colombia’s “oldest paramilitary” by crime analysis website Insight Crime, was the founder and a leading member of the ‘Self -Defense Forces of Magdalena Medio’ (ACMM).

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Government acts to curb damage to Cocuy Natural Park

The National Parks office has moved to place restrictions on guests at one of Colombia’s most visited parks after reports of extensive harm caused by unregulated use.

The new controls include making visitors pay in advance to enter the park, limiting access to trails and camping areas, and prohibiting horse riding on park grounds. The park is located in the Andes mountains in the department of Boyaca.

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Cartagena oil refinery strike ends after wage agreement

A union-led work stoppage at one of Colombia’s largest oil refineries, located in the northern city of Cartagena, has ended after a wage agreement was struck just three days after strikes began, media reported Monday.

Colombia’s national oil workers’ union, the Union Sindical Obrera (USO) successfully negotiated a pay increase of between 40 and 100 percent for employees of the REFICAR plant, according to its leader Redolfo Vecino. He said: “We reached a $104.5 million deal for salary increases.”

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Colombia tightens security cooperation with Russia and Sweden

Colombia’s defense minister announced an accord to strengthen security cooperation between his country and two European allies, Russia and Sweden, at an event in Stockholm on Saturday.

Speaking at the Global Strategic Review of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon announced agreements between the three countries to tighten collective efforts in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

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Colombia`s sugarcane unions denounce labour abuses

Comment / News Review | By Peter Bolton

Four of Colombia’s sugarcane unions united at a press conference last month to denounce abuses against workers in the sugar industry. Sintrainagro, Sintracatorce, Sintracañazucol and Sinaltrainal met for the first time in years to sign a resolution which set forth common concerns faced by labour activists in the sugar sector and agreed to a set of recommendations and actions for the future.

The document made condemnations of “violence and impunity against union leaders” such as the assassination of Sintrainagro leader Carlos Pérez Muñóz which took place in January of this year. Muñóz’s death has been given as proof that unionist in Colombia are still under considerable risk from targeted violence. Despite a decrease in assassinations of unionists in recent years, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. The resolution also condemned continued threats against leaders and the failure of the National Protections Union to provide guarantees for their organizations.

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