Republic of Colombia, between FARC and a countrie

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   Loeb, S. (2016) The peace process between Farc and Colombia. Retrivied from:  http://mundo.sputniknews.com/americalatina/20160204/1056386647/colombia-farc-santos-teme-sabotaje-proceso-paz.html 

 

The Republic of Colombia is located in the northwestern region of South America, is comprised of a unitary, social and democratic state and has a presidential government, whose current president is Juan Manuel Santos, in turn President Santos enters into new talks peace between the Government of Colombia and armed groups ( “Guerrillas”) in Havana (Cuba), initiated in the early years of former president Andres Pastrana Arango since 1998, meetings between both sides already passed a first test in meetings Oslo (Norway) and now for the second time in Havana (Cuba).
On 27 May 1964 the government of Colombia launched a military operation to conquer a zone of communist influence in the central west of the country. Manuel Marulanda Velez and 47 other men, fled and fought creating the tenth world’s most dangerous terrorist group of guerrilla character self-proclaimed Marxist-lenista operating in Colombia and in the border area with Venezuela, better known as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces from Colombia).
There are many rumors that the armed group FARC, was giving space for dialogue because of their lack of resources as weapons, medical supplies and etc. not having as get the new measures to combat drug trafficking in Colombia often linked to the guerrillas that group. The government of Juan Manuel Santos remains steadfast against the threat of the armed group and does not rule out further attacks while peace meetings continue.
The reasons are still fighting for peace in Colombia, they are directly related to the 50 years that meets the FARC group, known by many as “Fifty years on fear of FARC” years of murder, kidnapping, robbery, businesses and illicit smuggling, all obviously denied by the leaders of the armed movement. The peace talks in Cuba will not take into account the crimes of the past five decades, since according to the organizers of this important event, it is important to spend every chapter at a time, but will participate in these meetings last May 13, members and victims of group. Negotiations are at a slow pace but optimistic, President Juan Manuel Santos is flexible and gives some requests to one of the leaders of the FARC (Timoleon Jimenez), the population of Colombia does not have direct access to treaties until they finish. The armed group as data grows every year and fear of a significant surge makes peace agreements as quickly as possible be resolved:

 

Table 1: The FARC’s Growth from 1986 to 1995
Year Number of fronts Number of members
1986 32 3,600
1995 60 7,000

n.d.a., Growth in FARC .Retrivead from : https://www.tni.org/es/node/1464

 

We know about Colombia?
Through an interview with the Minister Plenipotentiary (Juan Manuel Uribe Robledo) of Colombia in Spain, performed by students of the Universidad Europea de Madrid can consist with legitimate information echo that the problem in Colombia as it would in any other State, he goes there in fighting a country against a specific group, geographical and historical issues Moldan present of Colombia, and the main problem we have to popular dissatisfaction according to the Minister, does not advance for results while the the State- “five years is too much for one life, five years for the state, few steps” -Colombia is among the 6 most unequal countries in Latin America and has one of the strongest industries, despite that, has problems such as the fight against unwanted traffic and mobility within its borders is inevitable.
According to UNHCR (The UN agency refugee) in Colombia more than 330,000 Colombians have fled the country because of the last 50 years of internal conflict, seeking asylum, and many to not get it, do not continue to seek alternatives offered by the government, in many cases they join armed groups creating a vicious circle difficult to solve, where a problem does another major problem.
Colombia has more than 5% of its population in slums or indigenous tribes in the Amazon, once again with the geographical factor influencing in many cases vulnerable to ideologies of different control groups people.

It is important to remember that there are many factors that compromise a country to act on behalf of their interests, armed groups in Colombia do not fight for the interests of Colombia, fighting for proprios and unfairly with Colombian interests, is a country suffering terror and every minute of dialogue is divided a little more, Juan Manuel Santos is one of the major international players in the fight against terrorism in America, and their attitudes against armed groups in Colombia, obtained the power to give the country.
There are different views in the country, some speak eradicate the FARC and other justice, but together, always speak of the duty to protect the peace, human rights protect the idea of the rights to life, between the sword and the wall ahead of us the future of Colombia?

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Rodrigues, Madeleine (2016) fotograhp , Colombian Embassy

Interview to Ivonne Bianchi

entrevista

Ivonne Bianchi is a Venezolan who has worked in the national bank of Venezuela, and currenltly is working for Group Atapahualpa as Financial Advisor, the main contractor of the Venezuelan Governement. The company, one of the biggest on the country, has been critisized for getting a lot of contracts, producing the controversial “morralas of Chavez” (bags with the face of Chavez), or even being the instrument through wich spanish party “Podemos” would have received money from Venezolan Government.

“I met the owner of the company in the previous work ; It was my client when I held the position of Manager of International Finance in a national bank , when I finish my employment relationship asked me to work in this company.”

Patricia: How long have you worked for Atahualpa Group?

Ivonne: I have been working in the company Atahualpa Group for two years now

P: What is your position in the company ?

I.: I work as a financial advisor to prepare investment projects either creating a new business, expansion of facilities of one of our factories, launching a new product, etc. , led in most cases to apply for funding in banks or decision of the Board of the company.

P. How did you reach that position ?

I: I met the owner of the company in the previous work ; It was my client when I held the position of Manager of International Finance in a national bank , when I finish my employment relationship he asked me to work in this company.

P: Related to social responsibility, could you cite some examples of activities carried out by the company?

I: Atapahualpa Group has developed many activities regarding social responsability in very different areas. For example Talks of Information and Guidance on the beneficiary population were made about issues like the problem of domestic violence, violence against women, drugs, and conflict with children and adolescents, legal and socio-political orientation: a discussion on alternative means for dispute resolution was made. This activity included all those staff benefited from the project.
Another one would be workshops such as the workshop on self-esteem and Personal growth.

P: What product line is the most successful? Who is the client?

I: Currently The textile sector is the strong one of our company, especially in the manufacture of uniforms, school bags and backpacks.
Our customers are mostly state companies such as National bank (Banco de Venezuela, Banco Bicentenario, the Treasury, Ministry of Education, governors, and private clients.

P: Atapahualpa is a private company , an important contractor criticized sometimes for hogging most of Contracts , supposedly without need to submit to public competition procedure required by law. It is really that way ?

I: It is true that Atapahualpa gets the most of governmental concessions , this is due to the fact that our Company operates properly and offers competitive prices and services . Furthermore it is not true that it always gesta ll the concessions,. As an example of It is worth to remember September 2012, our offer for “supply of office supplies and stationery ” presented by the Contractor was rejected by the Government.

P: Atahualpa Group is a main contractor for the Venezuelan Government. Do you think a possible recall referendum against the Government would affect the Company? why?

I: We are a big company which has developed in different economic sectors. In case of an output of the current government, it is clear that the company would be short-term affected because most of our clients are from the public sector, however by its diversification in their products and services would keep us in business.

P: Related to your previous experience in the public banc, in which entity did you work?

I: I worked for the Treasury Bank of Venezuela.

P: Is the banking sector stable in your country?

I: Well, as in the rest of the world, it is not hundred per cent foreseable. Since 1996, after a huge crisis, it seems to have improved. The Bank Superintendency ensures the stability of this sector, mainly dominated for the private banking. Nonetheless, the Venezuelan banking system is not stable as it is currently facing risks both for assets and for liabilities. The recession and high levels of inflation play against revenue and profitability of the system .

P: Although the Venezuelan National Bank with greater capital is state-owned, (Bank of Venezuela), social capital as a whole is in the vast majority distributed in private entities . In your view, what could be the reason?

I: The Banks play different roles. A lot of people distribute money between national and private entities. But, the reason could mainly be the confidence that comes from private entities, since they are mostly bearings profitability of your business, public entities instead its main objective is to benefit society, which makes them riskier .

P: When the government returned to nationalize Banco de Venezuela , which had been before acquired by Banco Santander , revenues grew enormously. Do you believe, in general, that Venezuelan people are reticent to foreign Banks?

I: I do not consider the Venezuelan people to be  reticent to foreign banks , what happened was that by becoming a public bank profits are directed to society , sacrificing profitability to subsidize special financing plans to underserved areas , rate subsidies interest , increased levels of banking , among others. In addition, the national government ordered public institutions to transfer their fund private banks to state banks, which allowed their incomes grow enormously.

Thank you Ivonne, for your time and for giving us a closer perspective of Venezuela´s situation.

 

Interviewer: Patricia García Blázquez

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INTERVIEW WITH MR. SANDRO FERREIRA BARBOSA ABOUT DILMA ROUSSEF’S IMPEACHMENT PROCESS IN BRAZIL.

Sandrao

Sandro Ferreira Barbosa is 27 years old, a promising talent that works as Legislative Consultant at the City Council of Rio de Janeiro. He possesses an extensive knowledge regarding what happens in the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive powers in Brazil. He is also capable to talk about the process of the former president Dilma Rousseff impeachment and give his opinions about the political future of the country.

A great discussion took place in Brazil regarding the legitimacy of the impeachment. According to Mr. Sandro the impeachment process is considered essentially a crime related to irregular operations of the 2015’s budget execution. Although these acts of government are reprehensible in a way, in his opinion they do not justify the impeachment. It is a disproportion to initiate this process and to condemn the President Dilma for acts of budget management by means of a very rushed process managed by a former president of the Lower House of the Parliament Eduardo Cunha who is being prosecuted by the Supreme Court. In this circumstance the impeachment process operates, in my opinion, as a way to remove the president Dilma though a distortion of a legitimate constitutional institute. Mr. Sandro understands that the Judiciary Power had an important role in that crisis because the investigation of irregularities of the Public Federal Administration must continue to be impartially investigated in order to reach all involved people.

It is clear that Dilma made many mistakes which allowed the impeachment process beginning. It’s understandable that Brazilian people rejected Dilma Rouseff’s government according to researches and public manifestations. She did not take advantage of her great popularity to adopt the necessary measures for the country, including political reform. Furthermore, she made questionable interventions regarding several sectors of the economy which have been proven harmful to the country (tax exemptions, for example). She did not take advantage of the moment to establish partnerships with the private sector. She also held budgetary and financial operations against the principles of good management. There was mismanagement of public companies: Eletrobras, Petrobras and so on. Regarding to corruption, she was not firm enough in addressing those problems, often omitting them and participating at least indirectly on them. So I understand that all those errors, in addition to a troubled post-election scenario and an economic crisis, created the conditions for the impeachment process.

Mr. Sandro also commented on a very important character in that process, that’s to say, the removed President of Deputies Chamber Eduardo Cunha. There has to be very proven reasons indicating that Eduardo Cunha’s presence affects the normal operation of the control institutions. “I really understand that Eduardo Cunha repeatedly used his power of Lower House president to stop the progress of investigations such as Board of Ethics and Inquiry Parliament Board’’ said Mr. Sandro. Eduardo Cunha has also intimidated some witnesses. So Mr. Sandro said he supports the unanimous decision of the Federal Supreme Court of Justice. On the other hand the president Dilma Roussef is moved away of her position by 180 days and Mr. Sandro does not think she will return to her position because the Senate has already demonstrated to have the majority of 2/3 of votes to impeach her. Besides, during the period of 180 days, despite the difficulties, the new government will be able to present positive results for the economy growth and to approve the necessary reforms for the country.

What to expect Michel about Michel Temer government? As Mr. Sandro said: “Michel Temer will be able to adopt important measures for the economy because he has the support of the majority members of the Legislative Power. In addition to that I think (the news of recent days have indicated that) there will be a turn to the right conservative political parties in various fields such as foreign policy, labor policy, health, human rights, security etc. Regarding the fight against corruption, there is no doubt that this is a secondary issue for the government and will be emptied, not only because the ruling staff off PMDB (one of the greatest political parties) is involved in various events of corruption, as well as public opinion and the media will not give focus on such matters as in recent months.’’

Mr. Sandro also talked about the situation of the foreign politics in Brazil. He mentioned that the new government nominated the Minister of the External Relations, José Serra. According to Mr. Sandro a pertinent question for the future of the country is: ‘’Which direction can we expect from Brazilian Foreign Policy?’’ Mr. Sandro answered: ”I think the first steps of the José Serra Chancellor demonstrate a right turn in foreign policy. While saying that now the Itamaraty (The Foreign Relation Ministry) will suit the interests of the state and nation, never the interests of a party, it seems to me that there is a guidance to obtain other world leaders’ support about the impeachment process. The fact is that the definition of public policy in any area involves somehow ideological bias to the left or to the right.’’

I would like to thank Mr. Sandro Barbosa for sharing his knowledge regarding the very complex impeachment process of Dilma Roussef. Now I feel well prepared to talk about this important subject.

By: Vitor Almeida Prado Paré

Chile should not yield before Bolivia.

Bolivia is asking once again for a sovereign access to the sea over Chile’s territory.

The conflict between Chile and Bolivia dates back to different issues caused because of different treaties that were sing related with the economical situation and borders. In the 1879’s treaty, the Bolivian government relent the taxes of Chilean Companies’ products, but four years after, this same government  decreed the increased of the same taxes, contradicting themselves and the Treaty, and causing threats by Bolivia to confiscate Chilean Products if taxes were not paid. So, in this way we can speak that Bolivian government was who tempt the griefs that began war. On that same year, a Chilean warship with 200 soldiers was sent to occupied the areas in which the auction of Chilean Companies was taking place in Bolivia. In reaction, the Bolivian government declared the War, invoking the secret alliance they maintain with Peru, also Chile declared the War and ended as the winner of it. This was call the War of Pacific.

After the War, in 1904, Bolivia and Chile signed a Peace Treaty which ended the war, stablished the boarders between the countries and ceded 240 miles of Bolivias’s coastline — Bolivia’s only outlet to the sea — to the Chilean victors.  Since then, Bolivia has repeatedly asked Chile for a sovereign access to the sea, something that Chile has always rejected for obvious reasons:

In first place, the reason why Bolivia is interested on recovering this territory, is not in their best geopolitical interest, but trading. Also, Bolivia recently brought the case before the Hague. They support their demands on  the repeated promises from Chile, as long as Bolivia thinks this promises are binding, because they constitute a source of law called international costume.

In contrast, we consider that it is enough for Bolivia the access they already have through Atacama’s Corridor, which is an area over Chilean territory that allows Bolivia to trade, the free movement of people and some privileges related to taxes.

Honestly, the International Court of Justice has no legal jurisdiction over the request, because the controversy is already regulated by the 1904 Treaty. Furthermore, there is the opinion that if Chile yield before the request, this could mean to the international arena, including Peru –which was also involve into the Pacific War- , a complaint over  territories lost during wars.

It is very important to highlight that this area has been benefited from Chilean legal system, investment and citizens’ work from more than a hundred years, so in consequence, the concession of this area would imply social disruption.

Finally, we consider that the most suitable option, gave by Chile’s President, is to permit Bolivia to build a harbor in the north-west of the country, so in this way import/export merchandise with destination to Bolivia would only pass trough Bolivian Customs and avoid Chilean ones, which would be a great advantage.

Impeachment divides Brazil in two.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of impeachment

Bench’s Senate after the impeachment process. Eduardo Cunha on the center of the image.

The political process of impeachment, intended to dismiss any person from the Executive Power, prescribed in Brazil’s Constitution, is regulated by 85th and 86th articles, which determine in which cases an impeachment process can be open.

The process was requested for the judges Hélio Bicudo and Miguel Reale Jr. and lawyer and University professor, Janaína Paschoal, who accused Russeff of violating fiscal laws by using funds from state banks to cover budget shortfalls, the manipulation of decrees of expenditure without the authorization of the Congress and the corruption in Petrobras. The complaint suggest, this can be considered as a “responsibility Crime”, one of the hypothesis in which a president can be impeach according constitution.

Actual Events and Current Situation

  • 12/02/2015, The President of Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, accepted one of the reports against the current president, Dilma Rousseff, which blames her on committing “responsibility crime”
  • 03/17/2016 A Special Commission was instituted to analyze the process of President’s impeachment, constituted by 15 sessions.
  • 04/11/2016: After all the sessions, the voting results of the Commission were: 38 votes in favor and 27 against opening the process. As the result was favorable, the process was authorized and proceeded to the Senate to be approved or refused now by Senators.
  • 04/17/2016 In the Senate, voting results were 367 in favor, 137 against, 7 abstentions and 2 absences.
  • 05/05/2016 Eduardo Cunha, Chamber of Deputies’ President, was deposed by the Minister of Supreme Federal Tribunal, Teori Zavascki, accused of obstruction of the investigation against him in an assumption involvement in the ’’Operação lava-jato’’ and for lying in the judgment on their accounts in Switzerland.
  • So far, the requesting is still in the Special Commission, now in the Senate, the next step is to vote in a Senate Plenary Session to decide over the continuity of the process.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of the process

On Wednesday 11, the plenum of the Senate will decide whether Dilma is dismissed or not. In the case they decide so, she would be replaced by Michel Temer by a maximum of 180 days, while the Camera of Senators make final decisions. Following an IBOPE inform, 26% of Brazilian population still support Dilma, meanwhile only 8% supports Temer. In any case, the great majority agrees that the best solution is to celebrate new elections without any of them.

Regarding the legitimacy or not of the impeachment, the controversy lies on the fact that it is seen by Dilma´s supporters as a coup d`Etat due to the fact that opposition is mainly corrupt. The main promotor of the process, Eduardo Cunha, has been recently suspended because of corruption scandals as well.

Following article 85th of the Brazilian Constitution, the impeachment is an exceptional measure that can only be used in a few circumstances, including attempting against budget law. The debate is not clear, since Dilma’s government practices have not been proved to be criminal, but merely “Pedaladas fiscais” which would not constitute a reason enough to justify the impeachment.

Impeachment, as a political process, can only be resolved by the Congress and the Senate, as the Supreme Court has not jurisdiction to judge “crimes of responsibility”. It can regulate the procedural question but not the substantive one.

 

A series of earthquakes and aftershocks hit the Northern Coast of Ecuador past week

 

A series of earthquakes and over 700 aftershocks hit the northern area of the city of Muisne, Ecuador, several times during a week since Saturday 16th. The first and most damaging earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, has caused 665 confirmed deaths so far, over 4.000 people injured, about 29.000 homeless and a big confusion related to the number of missing people, additionally 85% of the structures in the Muisne city are ruined, according to Ecuador’s national emergency management office.

The government and Ecuador’s National Emergency Management Office, are the bodies in charge of managing the consequences and to coordinate the foreign efforts and supports made by NGO’s and other institutions.

To face the situation, Ecuador’s government is taking some economic measures, as increasing VAT two points (from 12% to 14%) during a year. Also, citizens that have more than one million dollars, will have to pay once 0,9% of capital gains taxes. Moreover, Ecuador deployed 10.000 soldiers and 4.600 police officers to the affected areas.

Knowing how susceptible the area is to suffer this kind of natural disasters, the government is being criticized mainly by the opposition who believes that a lot of money has been wasted during the past 10 years in education and infrastructure, running out the emergency founds.

Countries like China and Brazil are aiding by seeding medicines, food, tents and other inputs needed to help the national organisms to take care of all the consequences this catastrophe bring.

There is an internal battle between the government and the opposition that ask for an approach to IMF, which has always being avoided in Ecuador because of the requirements of public expenditure reduction. The cities need 3 billion dollar to rebuild the devastated areas and the country is thinking on ask for a loan to the International Community. The World Bank has already granted 150 million USD to supply the needs.

Despite internal political disputes in the country before and after the earthquake, since 2008 more importance was given to the aim of “Communication and information”, based on this, goverment is trying seriously to expose to the society the situation, with the intention to make population feel safe and to take real steps to guarantee that the transparency law is correctly apply. But this, actually, opened once again a discussion about the political transparency in the country for receiving financial aid.

On the other hand, it is difficult to ensure that these same laws really ensure transparency without the manipulation of information from government bodies. In Ecuador, at the present, the right to this kind of information is protected by the “Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information” (LOTAIP), which its main base is the requirement of free access to public information inside deadlines, thus also imposes sanctions on the states entities which does not fulfil with the law.

Finally, It is important to recognize the social meaning this rights of access to information have in Ecuador for the improvement of the quality of life, but after the earthquake in the country, LOTAIP law is constantly being debating.