Colombia: manhunt for paramilitary warlord

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaAuthorities in Colombia are carrying out their biggest manhunt since the campaign that brought down the legendary Pablo Escobar in 1993. Dario Antonio Usuga AKA "Otoniel" is leader of the Urabeños, a blood-drenched paramilitary network which is said to control much of the cocaine trade in Colombia's northern region of Urabá. The hunt, dubbed the "Siege of Urabá," has mobilized over 2,000 soldiers and National Police troops to the jungles and peasant villages of the northern region. Under a new reward just announced by President Juan Manuel Santos, Otoniel now has a $580,000 price on his head, while his associates "El Galivan," "Nicolas" and "Guagua" each have a price of nearly $200,000.

Chemical used in Colombia anti-coca spraying named as carcinogen

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaThe International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), on March 24 officially reclassified the herbicide glyphosate as a cancer threat—citing what it called convincing evidence the chemical produces cancer in lab animals and more limited findings that it may cause a form of lymphoma in humans. Monsanto markets glyphosate as Roundup for use in agriculture worldwide, but the reclassification is especially big news in Colombia—where the government has sprayed more than 4 million acres of land in the past two decades to eradicate coca plantations.

Colombia: peace efforts bear (tentative) fruit

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaColombians made history March 8, as tens of thousands took to the streets in cities and towns nationwide—joined by Colombian ex-pats and immigrants in the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere—to show their support for peace talks between the government and FARC guerillas. The "March for Life" was organized by Bogotá’s ex-mayor Antanas Mockus and was embraced by President Juan Manuel Santos, who joined the march in the capital. Since then, there have been some encouraging signs that the country’s multi-decade armed conflict is really coming to an end. (EuroNews, March 9; AP, Colombia Reports, March 8)

Colombia: peasants detain troops... again

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaIn another case of Colombian villagers staging a local uprising in response to militarization of their communities, on March 24 a detachment of some 20 special anti-narcotics agents of the National Police were detained by indigenous peasants at the hamlet of Alto Naya, in the southern region of Cauca. Villagers apparently accused the troops, who were on a coca eradication mission, of entering indigenous lands without community consent. But the local National Police commander said consent had been secured at a meeting with village leaders held in the nearby town of Santander de Quilichao. In any event, police seemingly agreed to call off the eradication mission in order to win the release of the detained troops.

Burma opium war spills into China

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaAfter weeks of escalating tensions along the remote mountain border, a Burmese MiG-29 fighter jet carried out an air-strike on Chinese territory March 13, killing four people working in a sugar-cane field in Yunnan province. Chinese authorities stepped up security along the border and registered a diplomatic protest. Burma, after initially denying everything, issued a statement expressing "deep sorrow" over the deaths. But Beijing says there have been at least three similar incidents of bombs from Burmese government forces falling in Chinese territory in recent weeks, and warned of "decisive" measures if there were any more. This all concerns the fast-escalating war in Burma's northern Shan state, where the rebel army of the Kokang ethnicity has again taken up arms against the government. More than 50,000 people—mostly Kokang—have fled the fighting into Chinese territory since the war was re-ignited earlier this year, and Burma accuses local military commanders in China of allowing the rebels to establish a staging ground in the border zone. (BBC News, March 16; Al Jazeera, March 15; Reuters, IBT, March 14)

Senate bill to lift federal ban on medical marijuana

Posted on March 12th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

capitolA bipartisan group of US Senators on March 10 announced legislation to end the federal ban on medical marijuana. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act is sponsored by senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). If passed, the bill would end the federal restriction on medical marijuana and allow for several comprehensive reforms, including: permission for limited interstate transport, an expansion of access to cannabis for research purposes, and reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I to II. Medical marijuana, and the right of states to determine how to regulate it, has found bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. (Jurist, March 10)

Mexico: narco-gang decapitates mayoral candidate

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoAide Nava, 42-year-old woman running for mayor in Mexico's conflicted southern state of Guerrero, was found decapitated March 11, a day after she was abducted in her hometown of Ahuacuotzingo. The decapitated body was found in the municipality's outlying hamlet of Tecoanapa with a note signed by Los Rojos, one of the main Guerrero narco-gangs, threatening the same treatment for any politician who does not "fall in line." She had been seized the previous day by gunmen who stopped her campaign bus on a rural road. Nava's family, activists with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), had long been under threat. Her husband Francisco Quiñonez Ramírez, the former mayor of  Ahuacuotzingo, was gunned down by an assassin in June 2014.  Their son, Francisco Quiñonez Nava, was kidnapped in October 2012 and remains missing. 

Hezbollah connection to Suriname narco-state —not!

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

CaribbeanHere we go again: the headline says one thing, the actual text (if you read carefully enough) something else entirely. In the relentless effort to hype a Middle East terrorist connection to the Latin American narco-traffic, the feds just scored a real coup. Dino Bouterse, the son of Suriname's current president and former military dictator Desi Bouterse, was on March 10 sentenced in federal court in New York City to 16 years for attempting to provide material support to Hezbollah, along with narco-trafficking and firearms charges. Bouterse, who was arrested in Panama in 2013 and pled guilty, was an architect of Suriname's Counter-Terrorism Unit (of course).  "Dino Bouterse was supposed to oppose terrorism," said US attorney Preet Bharara. "Instead, Bouterse betrayed his official position and tried to support and aid Hezbollah, including his agreement to assist Hezbollah in acquiring weapons, and conspiring to import cocaine to the US. Today he has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for those odious crimes."

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