Colombia

Colombia: state seizes narco-lands from FARC

Posted on July 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on July 18 announced details of an operation to seize nearly 278,000 hectares said to have been illegally usurped by the FARC in Meta region, on the eastern plains. "Operation Yari" was led by the military's elite Task Force Omega, although it was not clear if any actual combat was involved. Santos said the lands were a mixture of private predios (collective peasant holdings) and "vacant" state lands. While Santos named the FARC's East and Southern fronts as controlling the lands, there was some ambiguity as to how they had been usurped. He said: "These lands had been acquired illegally, because the titles were not legal or because they were occupations of vacant lands" that pertain to the state. He said the former predios would be turned over to the government's Banco de Tierras for redistribution to expropriated campesinos, as mandated by the terms of the peace process now underay. He said the lands were used by the FARC both for cattle ranching and processing cocaine. Many of the lands were in La Macarena, an area the government has especially targeted for coca eradication. (MiRegión, La Macarena, El Espectador, Bogotá, Radio CaracolReuters, July 17)

Colombia overtakes Peru in coca production

Posted on July 15th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaColombia surpassed Peru last year in land under coca cultivation, resuming its number one position for the first time since 2012. The latest annual report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finds that territory under coca cultivation dropped 14% in Peru, from 49,800 hectares in 2013 to 42,900 to 2014—the smallest area under cultivation since 1998. Colombia meanwhile experienced a 44% jump from 48,000 hectares to 69,000. Peru made gains againt coca in the Upper Huallaga Valley, while coca fields expanded in Colombia's Putumayo, Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare regions—all on the frontier lands of plains and rainforest east of the Andes. The findings do not necessarily mean that Colombia is now the world's top cocaine producer, as much of Peru's crop is more mature and higher yielding, having never been subjected to eradication. While Peru eradicates in the Upper Huallaga, it resists US pressure to do so in a second coca cultivation zone, the Apurímac-Ene Valley, for fear of inflaming peasant unrest. (AP, UNODC, July 15; UNODC, July 2)  

Colombia: peace talks resume—as war escalates

Posted on June 2nd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaSince Colombia's FARC guerillas called off their unilateral ceasefire following a military air-strike last month, peace talks with the government have resumed in Havana. As the new phase of talks opened May 25, FARC leaders appealed to the government to instate a bilateral ceasefire. (EFE, May 25) But the very next day, government forces carried out a mixed land and air assault on a camp of the FARC's 18th Front along the Río Chimirindó, in Riosucio municipality, in the Pacific coastal region of Chocó—leaving 41 guerillas dead. Among the dead was the 18th Front's commander, Román Ruiz, authorities said. (El Teimpo, May 26) The day after that, Colombia's air force carried out a new bombardment, targeting the 4th Front of the FARC's Magdalena Medio Bloc at the hamlet of Alto la Cruz, Segovia municipality, in the inland region of Antioquia. Ten guerillas were killed in the air-strikes—which came as the climax of a three-day operation in the area that authorities said left 36 guerillas dead. (El Tiempo, May 27) 

Colombia: FARC break off ceasefire after air-strike

Posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaAt least 18 FARC fighters were killed May 22 in an air-strike on a camp near the coastal village of Guapi in Colombia's southwest region of Cauca. The strike came little more than a month after President Juan Manuel Santos ended a suspension of aerial bombing in response to a guerilla attack that killed 11 soldiers. The army said the aim of the air-strike was intended to kill "Javier el Chugo," second-in-command of the FARC’s 29th front, although it wasn't immediately clear if he was among the dead. (Colombia Reports, May 22) The FARC responded to the bombardment by announcing its own suspension of a unilateral ceasefire the guerillas had declared in December. A statement from the FARC command said: "We did not seek the suspension of the unilateral and indefinite ceasefire proclaimed on Dec. 20, 2014 as a humanitarian gesture to de-escalate the conflict, but the incoherence of the Santos government has done it, through 5 months of ground and air offensives against our structures throughout the country." (Colombia Reports, May 20)

Peru: Sendero links to Colombian cartel claimed

Posted on May 19th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

PeruPeru's authorities can't seem to put out the last flicker of the Sendero Luminoso insurgency. A generation ago, the Maoist guerillas seemed capable of toppling the government but are now largely confined to a remote pocket of jungle known as the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). But that happens to be a top coca cultivation zone, affording the insurgency access to funds. Now, authorities claim to have uncovered evidence that the neo-Senderistas are in league with one of the re-organized Colombian cocaine cartels, ironically known as the "Cafeteros" (coffee-producers). "For the first time in an objective and concrete manner, the state can corroborate the link between drug trafficking and terrorism in the VRAEM," Ayacucho regional anti-drug prosecutor Mery Zuzunaga told Cuarto Poder TV.

Colombia: peace process in jeopardy?

Posted on May 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

ColombiaColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on May 9 called upon his National Drug Council to halt the spraying of glyphosate on suspected coca fields following its recent reclassification as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The decision to put an end to 20 years of the US-backed aerial spraying was applauded by leaders of the FARC guerillas. The spraying has long been opposed by the FARC as well as by Colombia's peasant communities. Santos' announcement came one week after government representatives and FARC leaders met in Havana for the 35th round of ongoing peace talks—this time to focus on justice and restitution for victims of Colombia's long civil war. (Colombia Reports, May 10; Prensa Latina, May 3)

DEA chief Michele Leonhart steps down under cloud of scandal

Posted on April 21st, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

DEAUS Drug Enforcement Administration director Michele Leonhart is to step down next month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced April 21. Holder issued requisite praise of Leonhart, stating that she "led this distinguished agency with honor." But the circumstances of her departure are far from honorable. While Holder certainly wasn't so indiscrete as to mention it, Leonhart's resignation follows an internal Justice Department report last month finding that DEA agents attended parties with prostitutes paid for by local drug traffickers in Colombia. Media reports indicate that Leonhart, who has headed the DEA since 2007, has been under mounting pressure to resign since testifying to a congressional oversight committee about the scandal last week. (CBSBBC News)

Colombia: DEA agents in new prostitution scandal

Posted on March 30th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColombiaDEA agents in Colombia held sex parties with prostitutes hired by narco-traffickers, according to an investigation by the US Justice Department released March 26.  In a series of interviews with DoJ's Office of the Inspector General, former Colombian police officers said that they arranged the parties at government-leased quarters between 2005 and 2008, and also provided protection for the agents' weapons and property during the affairs. The report goes on to detail how several DEA agents were provided money, gifts, and weapons by local drug cartel operatives.

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