Colombia

Colombia: freed cartel hitman demands protection

Posted on August 28th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaJhon Jairo Velásquez Vasquez AKA "Popeye" is notorious in Colombia as former personal enforcer for late drug lord Pablo Escobar—and is now a free man after 22 years behind bars, two-thirds of his original sentence. But he seems to be more troubled than relieved about his release on parole—just before getting popped from the top-security Cómbita prison in Boyacá, Popeye asked Colombia's official human rights office, the Defensoría del Pueblo, for protection. "Please grant me police security from the moment I leave the prison gate," he wrote. We can imagine that Popeye has made a few enemies over the years. In jailhouse interviews with journalists, he boasted that he personally killed around 300 people and helped arrange for the murder of 10 times that many. A judge granted nonetheless his parole application, and he was sprung on a bond of 9 million pesos ($4,700) Aug. 27. "In his own hand he asked [authorities] to protect his right to life," the Defensoría said of the request, adding that the office has contacted the appropriate authorities to arrange security measures.

Colombia: FARC meets army brass, coke flow uninterrupted

Posted on August 24th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

ColombiaColombian military brass held their first meeting with FARC guerilla leaders at peace talks in Havana Aug. 22. The meeting focused on the specifics of implementing a ceasefire and the eventual demobilization of the guerillas.  Earlier in the week the guerilla leaders met, also for the first time, a group of war victims to discuss formation of a truth commission for the conflict. But Colombia's Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordoñez sent a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos criticizing creation of the Historical Commission on the Conflict and its Victims, fearing an outcome favoring the FARC’s version of events. (BBC News, Aug. 22; Colombia Reports, Aug. 21)

Aruba frees Venezuelan 'narco-general' wanted in US

Posted on August 4th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

VenezuelaVenezuela has scored a win in its ongoing diplomatic and propaganda war with Uncle Sam. The most recent flare-up started July 24, when authorities in Aruba arrested Gen. Hugo Carvajal, a top Venezuelan official wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges. Carvajal had been military intelligence chief under the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and was accused by the US Treasury Department of using his position to protect cocaine shipments for Colombia's FARC guerillas. He had just arrived in Aruba after being appointed Venezuela's consul there—and was promptly detained at Washington's behest. Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro called the detention a "kidnapping," and demanded Carvajal's immediate release. And three days later, a judge on the island found that since Carvajal had a diplomatic passport, his arrest was illegal. He was sprung and quickly made the short flight back to Venezuela. "He's returning free and victorious. It's a triumph for sovereignty and legality," president Maduro said, praising the "bravery" of the Dutch government. (The Guardian, July 28; BBC News, July 27; Maduradas, July 24)

Medellín kingpin busted in Spain

Posted on July 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

SpainSpanish authorities on July 19 announced the arrest of wanted Colombian kingpin Hernán Alonso Villa AKA "El Ratón" (The Mouse), who was apprehended on a highway outside the Mediterranean port of Alicante. Alonso Villa is said to have been a top European operative for the Oficina de Envigado, now Colombia's most powerful criminal organization, and is held responsible for exporting massive amounts of cocaine to Spain, the Netherlands, and elsewhere on the continent. He is also accused of having led the Oficina's paramilitary enforcement wing in Colombia. The Oficina has been linked to nearly 400 murders, according to authorities. Spain's National Police said Alonso Villa has been transfered to Madrid pending extradition to Colombia. (The Guardian, July 20; Latino Post, El Tiempo, July 19)

Colombia: FARC renounce narco-profits

Posted on May 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

ColombiaColombia’s government and the FARC guerilla organization announced an agreement May 16, entitled "Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs," in which they pledge to work together agianst the narco trade. The FARC, whose top leaders face extradition to the United States on trafficking charges, agreed to "end any relationship" with the illicit drug trade, and cooperate in a "National Program for the substitution of the illicit uses of coca, poppy, and marijuana crops." The accord calls for "integral development plans" for rural communities impacted by the drug trade, to be drawn up with the participation of those communities, in the context of an "Integral Rural Reform." It also calls for an international conference to be held under the auspices of the UN to reconsider global strategies against drugs—the one veiled reference in the agreement to the FARC's earlier proposals to decriminalize cultivation of coca leaf and cannabis. "With this we will eliminate the gasoline that has fuelled the conflict in Colombia—drug trafficking," said the government's lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

Reefer madness hits Venezuela

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

VenezuelaVenezuela’s interior minister Miguel Rodríguez announced April 22 the arrest of nine people on charges of leading, financing and organizing violent anti-government protests in the Caracas municipality of Chacao. On the basis of "previous intelligence operations," Rodríguez said 10 homes were raided before dawn, netting the nine suspects who, "according to people detained several days before, were handing out money" to demonstrators. He said police have warrants for 15 more who are supposedly directing "these violent groups engaged in terrorist activities." He added that those previously detained confessed that in addition to cash payments, they agreed to take to the streets in exchange for "genetically modified marijuana." Said Rodríguez: "They give them that drug to get them high and keep them in permanent activity against security forces." (LAHT, April 21)

Colombia: pressure grows to expand decrim

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColombiaAn official from the capital district government of Bogotá on March 28 called upon Colombia’s national government to open debate on broadening the policy of cannabis decriminalization.  "We really need leadership from the Congress and the government to regulate the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana," said the general secretary of the Bogotá mayor's office, Susana Muhamad. Despite efforts by the previous government of President Alvaro Uribe to roll back the policy, since 1994 cannabis has been decriminalized in small quantitites—recently established by the judiciary as up to 22 grams. However, sale and cultivation remain illegal in Colombia. Muhamad appealed to current President Manuel Santos to examine lifting these limitations.

Crime wars rock Venezuela

Posted on February 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

VenezuelaAt least two people were shot dead Feb. 12 in student protests in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. An anti-government protester and a pro-government activist were each killed in an exchange of fire as rival demonstrators clashed, officials said.  "He was a comrade assassinated by the right-wing fascist hordes," National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello said of the second victim, a community leader from a poor neighborhood. At least 23 have been injured in demonstrations across the country. President Nicolas Maduro is under mounting criticism for the country's economic woes and high levels of violent crime. (Reuters, BBC News, Feb. 12)

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