Riot In Colombia Prison Leaves 23 Dead – Government

Inmates extend their hands at the Modelo prison in Bogota after a riot on March 22, 2020. – A riot in a prison in the Colombian capital has left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday. The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout overnight from La Modelo prison. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP.

 

Rioting that swept through a crowded prison overnight in the Colombian capital Bogota left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday.

The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout from La Modelo prison, Cabello said, as the capital was on a weekend lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

Riots occurred “in several penitentiary centers in the country,” Cabello said in a statement. “The result of the attempted escape in the Modelo was 23 inmates dead.”

La Modelo is Bogota’s second largest prison after La Picota, where protests also erupted on Saturday night.

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According to Cabello, 83 inmates and seven guards were injured in the disturbances inside La Modelo. Around half the injured prisoners were hospitalized, and two of the guards were in “critical condition.”

“There were no escapes,” she added.

The head of Colombia’s prison authorities, General Norberto Mujica, said his forces had taken back full control of the prison.

“Our guards prevented the escape from being carried out. We achieved that today and as a result are not looking for 5,000 prisoners that would have escaped.”

The government rejected accusations that the riots were sparked by unsanitary conditions inside a prison system unprepared to face the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no health problem that would have caused the escape plan and these riots,” Cabello said.

“Today there is not a single infection, and no prisoners, nor administration or custodial officials, that have the coronavirus.”

AFP

Colombia Announces First Coronavirus Death

Members of Colombian army wear face masks agaisnt the spread of the new coronavirus as they unload milk boxes from a truck to be delivered at a childcare center in Bogota on March 21, 2020. Juan BARRETO / AFP
Members of Colombian army wear face masks agaisnt the spread of the new coronavirus as they unload milk boxes from a truck to be delivered at a childcare center in Bogota on March 21, 2020. Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

Colombia has reported its first coronavirus death, the country’s health minister announced Saturday, with the central American nation recording 210 infections.

Fernando Ruiz said the patient was “a 58-year-old man, living in the town of Cartagene, working as a taxi driver, who transported two foreign citizens in his vehicle in the past few days.”

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He died on March 16, but the cause was not established until several days later, the minister said.

Colombians will go into obligatory self-isolation for almost three weeks from Tuesday evening in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

AFP

Atalanta Sign Colombian Striker Duvan Zapata

Inter Milan’s Uruguayan defender Diego Godin (L) vies with Atalanta’s Colombian forward Duvan Zapata during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Atalanta on January 11, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Atalanta has completed the purchase of Colombian striker Duvan Zapata at the end of his two-year loan deal from league rivals Sampdoria, the Serie A club confirmed on Friday.

The Bergamo club spent a total of 26 million euros ($29 million) to bring the 28-year-old to Bergamo.

“I’m very happy,” said Zapata. “First of all, I want to thank Atalanta for this further demonstration of confidence in me.

“We are building something important and can achieve great things together.”

Zapata, who has played 15 times for Colombia and scored three goals, also previously played for Napoli and Udinese.

He joined Atalanta on loan in 2018 and last season was the second top scorer in Serie A with 23 goals scored helping lift the club into the Champions League for the first time.

This season he has scored seven goals in all competitions, despite missing nearly three months with a thigh injury.

Atalanta are through to the Champions League last 16 and next play Spanish club Valencia.

AFP

Colombia Orders Uber To Halt Services

A woman checks the Uber transport application on her mobile phone after authorities ordered its suspension in Colombia, in Bogota on December 20, 2019. Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

Uber has been told to immediately suspend its ride-sharing services in Colombia, the industry and commerce authority announced Friday, citing unfair competition laws.

The US tech giant has around two million active users in the country, and roughly 88,000 drivers.

The ruling, which is subject to an appeal, follows a lawsuit by a group of taxi drivers who accuse the company of unfair business practices.

The head of the Industry and Commerce department — which regulates the market — said that the company must cease operation immediately, citing “unfair competition” and a “significant advantage” over older and more traditional taxi services.

The “effects (of the measure) are immediately fulfilled,” they added.

In a statement, the US firm regretted and rejected the ruling, which it “appealed immediately.”

Although Uber was allowed to operate in Colombia by the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and pays tax as a result, the use of drivers to transport passengers is illegal and the police are able to sanction drivers using the app.

Uber — founded in 2009 — arrived in Colombia in 2013 but taxi owners and unions have repeatedly protested in the streets against Uber and similar competitors, who they claim steal their work.

Protests have also been held in other cities, where pressure has even led to the withdrawal of these applications. For example, Uber does not operate in Catalonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Denmark and northern Australia.

 

AFP

‘Valley Of Souls’ Triumphs At Marrakesh Film Festival

British actress Tilda Swinton (R) stands as Colombian director Nicola Rincon Gille holds his trophy of the ” Etoile d’Or ” during the closing ceremony of the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival on December 7, 2019, in Marrakech. FADEL SENNA / AFP

 

 

Colombian director Nicolas Rincon Gille’s “Valley of Souls”, the story of a father’s solitary search for the bodies of his murdered sons, won top prize Saturday at the Marrakesh film festival.

It follows the journey of Jose, who comes home from a night of fishing to discover that paramilitaries have killed his two sons and dumped their bodies in the river.

So he sets off in a canoe to try to find their bodies and give them a proper burial.

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Marrakesh’s 18th annual festival was attended by top cinema stars such as Harvey Keitel, Marion Cotillard, Tilda Swinton and Robert Redford, who received a lifetime achievement award.

Toby Wallace won Best Actor for his role in the Australian comedy “Babyteeth”, directed by Shannon Murphy.

Nichola Burley and Roxanne Scrimshaw shared the Best Actress prize for British comedy “Lynn + Lucy”, directed by Fyzal Boulifa.

Tunisia’s Ala Eddine Slim was named Best Director for “Tlamess”, a drama about a soldier who deserts the army after his mother’s death.

Cuadrado Extends Juventus Deal Until 2022

 

Colombian international Juan Cuadrado has followed Leonardo Bonucci’s example by extending his contract with Juventus, penning a deal until 2022, the Serie A champions announced on Thursday.

The 31-year-old winger joined Juventus on loan from Chelsea in 2015, making the move permanent two years later for 20 million euros ($22 million).

Cuadrado has won the Serie A title four times, along with three Italian Cup and an Italian SuperCup, scoring 15 goals and contributing 28 assists in 151 games.

This season Maurizio Sarri has used Cuadrado mainly as a full-back because of an injury crisis among the defenders.

The Colombian has spent most of his career in Italy with Udinese, Lecce and Fiorentina before moving to Chelsea where he won the Premier League in 2015.

Amazon Countries Meet To Bolster Rainforest Protection

Firefighters try to control a fire near Charagua, Bolivia, in the border with Paraguay, south of the Amazon basin, on August 29, 2019. Fires have destroyed 1.2 million hectares of forest and grasslands in Bolivia this year. PHOTO: AIZAR RALDES / AFP

 

Presidents and ministers from seven Amazon countries met in Colombia on Friday to agree on measures to protect the world’s biggest rainforest, under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation.

The summit took place in the wake of an international outcry over months of raging fires that have devastated swaths of the Amazon in Brazil and Bolivia.

The gathering aimed “to foster a space for regional dialogue to advance the protection and sustainable use of this region, which is essential for the survival of the planet,” Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said.

Duque inaugurated the meeting in a “maloka” – an indigenous hut – surrounded by members of the Tikuna tribe with headdresses of colored feathers in southern Colombia’s Amazon city of Leticia.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, widely criticized over policies that favor deforestation and a delayed reaction to the wildfires, did not travel to Leticia, citing doctors’ orders.

However, speaking by videoconference, he urged other leaders to resist calls, spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, to internationalize protection of the Amazon.

“We must take a strong position of defense of sovereignty so that each country can develop the best policy for the Amazon region, and not leave it in the hands of other countries,” said Bolsonaro, who is due to undergo surgery Sunday.

Protection Pact

Seated at a long wooden table in the shade of tall trees, the representatives of the seven nations signed the “Leticia Pact for the Amazon” that Duque said would provide greater protection for the rainforest, as existing treaties had “fallen short.”

The pact establishes a roadmap for safeguarding the rainforest “not only for the Amazon countries but also the nations of the region and the international community,” he said.

Colombia’s Environment Minister Ricardo Lozano said the new measures include the establishment of an “Amazonian cooperation network” to share information on deforestation, including weather data to mitigate the effects of climate change, and threats from illegal mining and logging.

“We needed to increase and strengthen the cooperation between us, precisely to meet the great challenges of the Amazon, which are becoming more extreme and more intense every day,” he told reporters in Leticia.

Aside from the host Duque, other presidents attending were Peru’s Martin Vizcarra, Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno and Evo Morales of Bolivia. Suriname’s vice-president Michael Adhin and Guyana’s natural resources minister Raphael Trotman also attended.

Brazil was represented by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.

“We have to give concrete answers,” Vizcarra told the conference. “The dimension of the problem forces us to make drastic decisions.”

New Instruments

In a message to the summit, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay called on leaders to “reinforce existing instruments” designed to protect the Amazon.

“These instruments should be strengthened, more states encouraged to ratify them, increase protected areas, strengthen surveillance and action capabilities.”

Brazil contains 60 percent of the rainforest within its borders, with the rest spread over areas of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela as well as the French overseas department of French Guyana.

Venezuela, despite having a large swath of the Amazon, was not invited, as host, Colombia does not recognize the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

Colombia Mudslide Death Toll Rises To 28

Rescue workers carry a corpse after a landslide in Rosas, Cauca department, in southwestern Colombia, on April 21, 2019.  Luis ROBAYO / AFP

 

The number of dead from a mudslide that buried houses in southwestern Colombia has risen to at least 28, rescue authorities said on Monday.

Eleven more bodies were found during a rescue operation in Rosas, in the department of Cauca, where 17 people were pronounced dead on Sunday when the mudslide occurred, Colombia’s risk and disaster agency (UNGRD) said on its Twitter account.

At least two other people are still unaccounted for and hopes of finding them alive are waning, a UNGRD source told AFP.

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Local fire brigade chief Juan Carlos Ganan said the force of the mudslide meant finding survivors was highly unlikely.

He added that heavy rains meant there was the risk of another mudslide. The country has been battered by downpours for weeks.

AFP

 

Twelve Dead In Colombia Plane Crash

 

A plane crash in Colombia killed 12 people on Saturday, aviation and emergency services said.

The Douglas DC-3 aircraft, a twin-engine propeller plane that was first produced in the 1930s, crashed in the center-east of the country on a flight between the towns of San Jose del Guaviare and Villavicencio.

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“Unfortunately… there were no survivors,” the Aeronautica Civil aviation authority said, adding that the wreckage was found close to Villavicencio.

The Defensa Civil emergency services put the death toll at 12, while Aeronautica Civil said investigators were still working “to determine the number and identities” of those traveling on the DC-3, which has a capacity of around 30.

Aeronautica Civil gave no details on what caused the crash and asked the press to show restraint in using images circulating on social media “out of respect for the victims and their families.”

AFP

Colombia Shipwreck Death Toll Rises To 12

A Venezuelan migrant is pictured in a humanitarian camp in Bogota

 

The death toll in the capsizing off northwestern Colombia of a boat carrying migrants has risen to at least 12, seven of them children, officials said Thursday.

Another 18 people remain missing after Monday’s tragedy, when a wave upended the boat, leaving its passengers adrift at sea, according to Lilia Cordoba, the mayor of the Colombian coastal town of Acandi.

The migrants, who were trying to reach Panama, were from Africa, the regional human rights ombudsman, Rafael Bolanos, told AFP.

The Colombian navy, with help from police, found five more bodies on Thursday on top of the seven already recovered.

According to survivors, the boat was carrying 32 people — 18 adults and 14 children.

The navy said it was continuing its search and expects to find more bodies.

The Gulf of Uraba, where the boat capsized, is one of the main transit points for African, Asian and Haitian migrants trying to reach the US through the Caribbean, often making stops in Central American countries.

Since the beginning of the year, the Colombian military has rescued 84 shipwreck survivors and recovered 19 bodies.

Colombia Blames Deadly Bogota Car Bombing On ELN Rebels

Security forces work at the site of an apparent car bomb attack on a police cadet training school in Bogota, that left at least four people dead and 10 injured on January 17, 2019. JUAN BARRETO / AFP

 

The Colombian government on Friday blamed leftist ELN rebels for the car bomb that killed 21 people at a Bogota police cadet training academy.

Defense Minister Guillermo Botero, speaking from the presidential palace, described the Thursday bombing as “a terrorist attack committed by the ELN.”

Peace talks with the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s last major rebel group, broke down in 2018 under the former president Juan Manuel Santos.

AFP

21 Dead In Car Bomb Attack On Colombian Police Academy

Security forces work at the site of an apparent car bomb attack on a police cadet training school in Bogota, that left at least four people dead and 10 injured on January 17, 2019. JUAN BARRETO / AFP

 

Colombia’ s government declared three days of mourning Thursday after at least 21 people died in a car bomb at a Bogota police cadet training academy, and 68 were wounded — the worst such incident in the city in 16 years.

The defense ministry said the “terrorist act” was carried out using a vehicle packed with 80 kilograms (around 175 pounds) of explosives.

“Unfortunately, the preliminary toll is 21 people dead, including the person responsible for the incident, and 68 wounded,” Colombian police said in a statement, adding 58 of those injured had been discharged from hospital. The defense ministry had previously reported 11 dead and 65 injured.

“All Colombians reject terrorism and we’re united in fighting it,” President Ivan Duque tweeted in the aftermath.

Later in a statement to the nation, he said he had ordered reinforcements to Colombia’s borders and routes in and out of cities.

“I have also requested that priority be given to all the investigations … to identify the masterminds of this terrorist attack and their accomplices,” he said.

The bomber — who authorities confirmed was killed in the attack — struck at the General Francisco de Paula Santander Officer’s School in the south of Bogota during a promotion ceremony for cadets.

No group has claimed responsibility, but public prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez named suspect Jose Aldemar Rojas Rodriguez as the “material author of this abominable crime.”

Martinez said Rojas Rodriguez entered the school compound at 9:30 am (1430 GMT) driving a grey 1993 Nissan Patrol truck, but gave no details about the explosion.

He said the truck underwent an inspection in July in the Arauco department on the border with Venezuela — a traditional stronghold of ELN Marxist guerrillas.

 ‘Brutal act of terrorism’ 

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno said one of the dead was an Ecuadoran cadet, while a second suffered light injuries.

“The brutal act of terrorism in Bogota took the life of a compatriot,” Moreno said on Twitter.

“My sincerest thoughts go to the family, friends and companions of Erika Chico.”

Meanwhile, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela said that 45 Panamanian cadets were present during the attack, with two injured.

Fanny Contreras, the Colombian armed forces’ health inspector, told local radio that the truck “entered (the school compound) suddenly, almost hitting the police, and then there was the explosion.”

Carol Oviedo said her brother Jonathan, a cadet, told her on the phone he had been injured, before the connection was cut.

“In two years since he joined the police, he’s never had to face a situation like this,” she said.

Like other families, she was lingering in the vicinity of the academy hoping to hear some news.

United States assistant secretary of state in charge of Latin America, Kimberly Breier condemned the attack and said: “Our condolences and sympathies go to the victims and family members of those killed.”

The US embassy in Bogota offered its “help in investigating this reprehensible attack.”

 ‘Horrible, horrible’ 

Rosalba Jimenez, 62, was opening her confectionary store near the school when the bomb went off.

“When we turned to look at the school the sky was grey with smoke. People were running, sirens… horrible, horrible, it seemed like the end of the world,” Jimenez told AFP.

Authorities sealed off the area to the press and increased security service patrols in the south of the city, AFP reporters said.

Right-wing Duque, who assumed power in August, has peddled a tough line against Marxist rebels and drug traffickers in the largest cocaine producer in the world.

Peace talks with ELN guerrillas — who in the past have claimed responsibility for bomb attacks on police — stalled before Duque replaced Juan Manuel Santos as president, and have not been restarted.

Duque has made several demands, including the release of all hostages, as prerequisites to kick-starting the peace process, but the ELN has dismissed those as unacceptable.

After the 2016 peace accord signed by Santos and FARC guerrillas, turning the former rebels into a political party, the ELN is considered the last active rebel group in a country that has suffered more than half a century of conflict.

That cycle of violence has also involved paramilitaries, drug traffickers and other Marxist rebels, including FARC dissidents.

A year ago, six police died and 40 were injured in an attack on a police station in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla that was claimed by the ELN.

In February 2017, the ELN claimed responsibility for an attack on a police patrol in the Macarena neighborhood of Bogota that left one officer dead and several seriously wounded.

In June, three people — including a Frenchwoman — were killed and nine others wounded in an attack on a Bogota shopping mall that authorities blamed on a fringe left-wing group called the Revolutionary People’s Movement (MRP).

AFP