2008 was a stubborn year in Colombia. The names of Álvaro Uribe, Rafael Correa, Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega, Piedad Córdoba, Raul Reyes, Farc, Paramilitaires, Salvatore Mancuso, Manuel Marulanda, Parapolitic, Pyramids, Taliana Vargas Carrrillo, Oscar Córdoba, Elkin Serna, Gustavo Yacamán, Ingrid Betancourt, Professor Gustavo Moncayo, DMG, David Murcia and the Free Trade Agreement with US, were the main characters of the history written in Colombia this year. The following events are considered the most important news in the South American nation:
The 2008 GDP of Colombia was 2.8% and it will fall to 1.8% for 2009 according with economical predictions, due to the global financial crisis, but it would rise again by 2010 to 2.6%. Inflation was 7.1% and it will decrease by 2009 to 6.1% and getting down in the following years.
The popularity of President Álvaro Uribe has decreased due to some crashes in economics like the Crisis of the Pyramids or Ponzi scheme that affected the national economy and reduced even the numbers of production. Divisions in his coalition party have began and opposition will proffit the finanzial crisis to stand its proposals, but surely another strong candidate of the Uribe team will emerge after the 2009 referendum.
Most international observers say that although rates of violence have decreased in recent years, Colombia continues to be a violent country with worrying statistics.
The weakened of Farc guerrillas during the year would open more possibilities for negotiations with the Colombian government. In 2008 the role of the International Community in the Colombian conflict has been more than before and it has produced important advances in the development of the Colombian problematic like the interest in the hostages of the Farc.
Observers, especially from human rights organizations, are not especially satisfied with the performances of Colombia in the issue of human rights protection. Indigenous, Afro-Colombians, unionists and farmers have denounced before the International Community violation of the human rights by the authorities like the Colombian Army and illegal armed groups like the Paramilitaries, drug traders and guerrillas. This issue made that Colombia had a great opposition by the Democratic Party in the Congress of the United States in the approval of the USA-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. As Barac Obama belongs to that party, the FTA with Colombia will be condicionated during 2009 to the improvement of the protection of human rights for Colombians. However, economical predictions say that USA will gave more importance to the FTA with Colombia after the presure of the global finanzial crisis. Otherwise, Colombia will force the extension of the Andean Trade Promotion and the Drug-Eradication Act to its own benefit.
2009 and 2010 will be of a low level economical recession, but 2011 is predicted of an acceleration, if Colombia continues with their economical policies.
Clara Rojas and Consuelo González were released in January
January 10th. The year was opened with the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo González, both of them hostages of the Farc guerrillas. On January 1rst the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, confirmed to the media that a patrol of the Farc guerrillas gave the two Colombian politicians to the Venezuelan minister Rodríguez Chacín according with the agreements of the president with the rebel group. The two politicians, who were hostages of the rebels for six years, arrived by helicopter to Santo Domingo, State of Táchira and then traveled by plain to Caracas to join their families.
The relations between Colombia and Venezuela were already damaged since November 2007, when President Álvaro Uribe suspended the mediation of President Hugo Chávez with Farc for a Humanitarian Interchange.
January 16th: Few days after the release of Rojas and González, President Chávez asked the international community, especially USA and Europe, to remove the Farc guerrillas of Colombia from the list of terrorists groups. The proposal of Chávez was not welcome by the administration of the USA president George Bush and the government of Colombian president Álvaro Uribe.
As a reaction to that proposal, the Colombian chancellor Fernando Araujo declared that the Colombian government asked to president Hugo Chávez of Venezuela respect for the domestic problems of Colombia. He complained that president Chávez uses to make bad statements about the Colombian government. Araujo insisted that the actions of the guerrilla are terrorists since they are drug dealers, attack children, women and elders and practice crimes like kidnapping and others.
The spokesman of Farc, Raul Reyes, died in an attack of the Colombian Army in Ecuadorian border.
March 1rst. The second strongest man of the Farc guerrilla, Raúl Reyes or Luis Edgar Devia, his real name, died in an attack of the Colombian Army to a camp of the rebels. Reyes was known as the international spokesman of the Farc and he was in a camp of his group located in the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, at the Amazon jungle.
The bombing of the Colombian forces started at 00.25 local time against a camp of the Farc that was located in the Ecuadorian territory, crossing the Putumayo river. 16 guerrillas were killed in the bombings and Colombian soldiers made an incursion to the camp to take the bodies of the most important leaders like Reyes and Julian Conrado (real name Enrique Torres). The soldiers took also the personal computer of the guerrilla leader.
March 2nd. President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, sent a note of protest to the Colombian government for the incursion of Colombian soldiers into the Ecuadorian territory to attack and kill the second strongest man of the Farc guerrilla. Ecuador removed its ambassador from Bogotá and broke diplomatic relations. President Correa asked the international community a condemnation to Colombia for what he considered a violation of the Ecuadorian sovereignty. Correa received the support of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the president of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega. Venezuela announced to Colombia that any other kind of similar military action that would involve the sovereignty of Venezuela, will give reason for an open war. Chávez announced that Venezuela will move military forces to the Colombian border, but the action was never confirmed. Nicaragua declared full support to Ecuador as well. In 2007 the International Court of The Hague confirmed the sovereignity of Colombia over the Caribbean archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia. It created a distance between the two nations. Ortega broke diplomatic relations with Colombia as well. The situation is known as the “Crisis of the Andes” or “New Granade Crisis”.
The computer of Reyes
March 7th. The Colombian government claimed that it rescued the personal computer of killed Farc leader Raul Reyes. The Colombian authorities said that the computer keeps serious evidences of the relation of Farc with the governments of Caracas and Quito. According with that, Colombian accused Ecuador and Venezuela of supporting a group that is considered terrorists. Both governments denied the accusations and said that the Reyes’ computer is a false evidence created by Bogotá. However, the Interpol checked the computer and concluded that is authentic.
Ortega gave political asylum to three women of the Raul Reyes camp
May 11th. Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega gave political asylum to three women who were wounded in the attacked camp of the Farc guerrilla by the Colombian army in the Ecuadorian-Colombian border. The three women, one of Mexican citizenship, were transported from Quito in a Nicaraguan craft that asked permission to cross the Colombian territory, but without reporting the reason of the flight. Bogotá sent a protest to Managua saying that its government is protecting terrorists and that it is against international law. It is other part of the Andean Crisis that began when Colombian troops came inside the Ecuadorian territory to attack the Farc camp where second strongest guerrilla leader, Raul Reyes, died with 15 other companions.
Colombia extradites 14 Paramilitary leaders to USA
May 13th. The Colombian President Álvaro Uribe decided to extradite 14 of the strongest leaders of the Paramilitary groups to USA courts. The leaders, among them Salvatore Mancuso, the strongest man of the Paramilitary association AUC, were facing tribunals in Colombia for humanitarian crimes like population displacement, mass killings, land theft, killing of work activities and other actions made by the right wing armed groups. In the agreement of extradition, the Paramilitary leaders can continue giving information for the prosecutions in Colombia, while they face legal charges in USA for drug traffic.
Manuel Marulanda, the oldest world guerrilla leader, died in the jungles of Colombia
May 26th. It is confirmed the natural death of the strongest leader ofthe Farc guerrilla, Manuel Marulanda, known as “Tirofijo” (Sure Shot). Marulanda founded the Farc in 1964.
Parapolitic at its maximum level
July. So far, 68 congressmen have been involved in the investigations of Parapolitic by the Prosecutor. It means that they have relations in supporting or being supported by the right wind guns of AUC. Most of the congressmen involved in Parapolitic belonged to the party of President Álvaro Uribe, a fact that affected the image of his government and the credibility of the Congress of Colombia. Other politicians like governors and mayors, were called to face legal charges for the same reason.
July 2nd. The Colombian Army, with the authorization of the government of president Álvaro Uribe and the knowledge of France and USA, followed a military operation to rescue 15 of the most known hostages of the Farc: politician Ingrid Betancourt, three American citizens and soldiers and policemen. The action rose the popularity of President Uribe. Days after the International Red Cross denounced that one of the soldiers was using an emblem of the humanitarian organization, something that is considered an international violation of procedure in conflicts.
Taliana Vargas Carrillo, the second most beautiful lady of the planet, according to Miss Universe
July 14th. Miss Universe 2008, hold at the Convention Center in Nha Trang, Vietnam, gave the second place as 1rst runner-up to Taliana Vargas Carrillo, Miss Colombia 2007.
2008 Summer Olympics at Beijing
August. Colombia got medals at the Beijing Olympics. Diego Salazar, Jaqueline Rentería, María Luisa Calle, Santiago Botero, Andrés Jiménez, Juan Guillermo Urán, Omar Pinzón, Carolina Colorado, Paulo Villar, Elkin Serna and Luis Fernando López, were the names of the Colombian sportmen who did good scores in the international games in China this year.
Crisis of the Pyramids
November 17th. The Colombian government declared an emergency state due to the financial bankrupt of some companies that were applying the Ponzi scheme for money catchment from the public. The companies, leaded by David Murcia Guzmán and his DMG Holding Group S.A., let several persons without their money when the scheme broke at its maximum level and could not pay back more. Murcia was captured by the Panamanian police and sent to Bogotá to face crimes as illegal enrichment, money laundering and others. The government intervened the companies and rescued some money to give back to the investors.
Three Colombians nominated by Fox Sport Radio
December 3rd. Three Colombians were nominated by Fox Sport Channels to the annual awards. Oscar Córdoba, Elkin Serna and Gustavo Yacamán, were the names included by the prestigious sport channel in different modalities of international recognizance for their sport performances. Read more…