Matar a Jesus, Winner of the Macondo Awards in Colombia

Film Matar a Jesus, premium film by Colombian Laura Mora, was the big winner in this capital of the 2018 Macondo Awards, winning five out of 11 nominations.

The film won the categories of Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Supporting Actor for Camilo Escobar.

The film, which is also a candidate from Colombia to Goya, recounts the life of Paula (Natasha Jaramillo), a 22-year-old girl who knows her father's murderer and decides to take justice into her own hands.

The movie was filmed with non-professional actors for 36 days in the city of Medellin, where the father of the filmmaker was murdered in 2002.

'This is a film that invites the recognition of the other at a very relevant moment in our political history where we have to recognize ourselves,' said its director, whose debut has received multiple awards around the world in the last year.

The film Virus Tropical won the Macondo for Best Animation, Best Original Song for Adriana Garcia Galan and popularity; while Amazona was selected as Best Documentary and received two other awards: Best Original Music and Best Editing.

On the other hand, Amalia la Secretaria, directed by Andres Burgos, was the winner in the categories of Best Leading Actress for Marcela Benjumea, Best Lead Actor for Enrique Carriazo and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Tamayo.

The film Sal won the categories of Best Direction of Photography for David Gallego, Best Costume and Best Art Direction for Marcela Gomez.

The annual gala of the Colombian Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences also awarded two prizes to the production Siete Cabezas: Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

The Macondo de Honor Prize was awarded to the actor Alvaro Rodriguez, for his long professional career in the seventh art.

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Cuban outfielder Santos to play in Colombian Professional Baseball League

Cuban Roel Santos, member of the last national squads, signed a contract to play this season with the Barranquilla Caimanes, team of the Colombian Professional Baseball League (LCBP by its Spanish acronym).

For the outstanding player from the Cuban eastern province of Granma, this is another great challenge in his career after participating in the Canadian-American League (Can-Am) and the Japanese Professional League (NPB), he told JIT sports publication.

This will be a very intense tournament with two months of competition, until December 30, but if the team qualifies to postseason, Santos will remain there during the month of January.

The 2018-19 LCBP season starts today, and will be two intense months of competition, but I am ready to take on the challenge, Santos said.

Los Barranquilla Caimanes´ headquarter is the Edgar Renteria stadium, same venue that hosted the baseball event in the past Central American and Caribbean Games, and has nine LCBP titles, although they have not been crowned since the 2015-2016 season.

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Colombian Gov't Must Find 83,000 Disappeared Persons: Red Cross

The ICRC asked the Colombian government to implement more effective measures to prevent further disappearances.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged the new Colombian government to search for the over 83,000 people who disappeared in the country, in commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared, which takes place every Aug. 30.

RELATED: Colombia: FARC Demands Meeting With Duque Over Peace Accords

The head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, has highlighted that "The new Government headed by Ivan Duque) must make an effort to prioritize the search for missing persons and ensure that (everything is done to ensure that the families have a response."

The Unit for the Search of Disappeared People (UBPD) was created as part of the peace accords between the Colombian Government and the now political party Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) which was signed in 2016. Luz Marina Monzon, director of the UBPD, asserted that political will is needed because families are yet to receive any response.

"The creation of the UBPD and the ratification by the Constitutional Court of its extrajudicial and humanitarian character are in themselves positive steps, however, we expected the advances to be much faster," Harnisch said, while addressing the over 83,000 forced disappearance cases, that took place between 1958 and 2017, during the armed conflict in Colombia.

Harnisch also highlighted the importance of having human and financial resources in order to work effectively, in the territories and with the families, in the search process.

Colombia's newly installed right-wing government of President Ivan Duque has filed draft legislation ordering that "under no circumstances" should investigative bodies such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or the Truth Commission be allowed access to military intelligence.

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Colombia announces withdrawal from South American bloc conceived to counter US

The Colombian president has said a letter has been sent to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) announcing his country's withdrawal, meaning Bogota will officially cut loose from the bloc in six months.

Newly sworn-in Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Monday that his country has started a formal withdrawal process stipulated by the organization's constituent treaty, that begins with a member-state sending a written notice to the bloc's headquarters.

"Today with precise instructions, the foreign minister sent UNASUR the letter where we denounce the constituent treaty of that entity and in six months our withdrawal will be effective," Duque announced in a brief televised statement, as he followed through on his pre-election pledge to get Colombia out of the bloc, which was originally intended to foster regional integration and counter US influence when it was founded in 2008.

 
© Miraflores Palace

Right-wing Duque, who took office on August 7, had previously indicated that Colombia's departure from the 12-member organization was imminent.

Announcing Colombia's withdrawal on Monday, Duque claimed that the bloc of nations had failed to address a political crisis in Venezuela, which has been rocked by a wave of anti-government protests and the attempted assassination of President Nicholas Maduro earlier this year. Echoing the rhetoric of the US White House, Duque has labeled the Maduro government a "dictatorship"; he has also called the UNASUR Maduro's "greatest accomplice."

Colombia became the first and, so far, the only one of the organization's 12 members to formally leave UNASUR. In April, six countries –Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru– suspended their membership for a period of one year, citing differences over choosing the group's secretary general.

Venezuela, Ecuador as well as Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay continue to remain full members of the bloc.

Prior to Colombia renouncing its membership, Bolivia urged Duque to reconsider his position, hailing the group as "the natural space of integration that constitutes the hallmark of the peoples of the South because we are united by our history and by Mother Earth."

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Colombia Fails To Pass Anti-Corruption Consult

Just under the necessary one-third of Colombians voted against government corruption, just shy of the number necessary to pass the public referendum.  

With 97.42 percent of the polled tables closed over 99 percent of Colombians voted against corruption on Sunday, however, the necessary minimum number of eligible voters - 33 percent - didn’t cast a ballot reaching a very close 32 percent, so the vote won’t count.

RELATED: Gustavo Petro to Corrupt Colombians: Your End Is Coming!

The Anti-Corruption Consult, a series of seven questions meant to crack down on government corruption failed to pass on Sunday as only 11,249,761 eligible voters of the necessary 12,231,314 showed up to vote.

The referendum, led by the Green Party was unanimously approved on June 5 by Colombia's Senate.

At the final tally, 99.21 percent of the voters say they want to cap legislators’ salaries at 24 minimum wages, down from the current 40 minimum wage limit for lawmakers. The referendum second question asks if the public wants a guarantee that those convicted for corruption fulfill their entire prison sentence without exceptions—99.54 percent of the people agreed.

Ninety-nine point three percent of voters said they wanted the government to establish a transparent bidding process for public contracts, and 99.15 percent wanted citizens to participate in drafting local and national budgets.

Questions five and six would have strengthened accountability and transparency among legislators, requiring that federal lawmakers justify their participation in Congressional votes, which 99.6 of voters supported. A similar percentage wanted lawmakers to make all assets, incomes, and taxes public information.

Former presidential candidate and current senator, Gustavo Petro, was confident the consult would pass as polls opened Sunday morning. He tweeted a picture of himself voting with his young daughter and wrote the message: "Walking to vote on the seven points of the anti-corruption referendum. A Message from society to the corrupt: Hey, your end is coming!" 

After the polls closed Petro declared the day a victory against corruption: "The consultation was a success. If the corrupt were scared about eight million votes (the number of votes Petro received in the second round of presidential elections) now they are scared of more than 11 million." The Congress member added in his tweet, "Free citizens have strongly expressed themselves. Colombia's history has changed."

Duque has yet to comment on the anti-corruption vote.

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Fish in Miami Hand Net: Duke, the Darner

Ivan Duque has expressed again on his taking command that he seeks to be the president who united Colombia, and to this purpose he will repair the wrongs of the previous magistracy, as if a real change of power had occurred. As if the true interests that prevail sympathize with the large number of beggars almost naked and children half dead sleeping outside the gates of millionaires, owners of the true power.

Although he has had to soften the style of his speech, his intention of changing what could had been a historical peace agreement between the former government and the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia, to please military bosses who were opposed to some of its terms has not wavered. I don't know why so much anger, when the event actually disarmed a guerrilla of more-than-half-century old, limit it to areas where military forces don't obstruct and collaborate with paramilitary forces that commit atrocities and kill former guerillas fighters and social leaders with impunity.

He says he will amend mistakes of the previous administration, but the truth is that in the way he seeks to govern in today’s Colombia is like darning or poorly patching the holes that will survive and will get even bigger over time.

Remember, the gathering of right-wing forces, including the supposed presidential enemy, Juan Manuel Santos, rendered unnecessary the usual stealing of votes to give him a historical voting of more than ten millions for a second round, although it was also suggestive that the left-wing supported Gustavo Petro with eight millions. Petro is at present concentrated on a national march to keep alive the peace agreement half-torn by the extreme right.

Honestly, there’s a part of Colombia where social issues are minors, there are huge profits from commercial resources that range from emeralds to flowers, passing through millionaire incomes from the seven bases granted to the United States and the growing drug trafficking that enriches large state owners and provides private armies mainly ran by gangsters who operate within North American territory.

Perhaps we still have on sight that wonderful Colombia seen at the Games of Barranquilla, with its hospitality and good treatment, with an excellent performance exhibit by the host country, only overcome by the final effort of Cubans and the surprising performance of Mexicans.

Duque, whom I believed, I confess, poor speaker, knows how to address the people who he convinces regrettably in many aspects, like when he said that he will govern without the Uribe’s shadow – as he is accused with justice - and will adopt an independent style.

But where he first celebrated his victory, next to Uribe, he was in Miami, next to Cuban and Venezuelan opposition, he promised them that he won't tolerate "a dictatorship in Venezuela", before that the now former leader Santos announced that Maduro’s days were numbered, apparently knowing the killing attempt on the Venezuelan President, where drones and organized mercenaries were used in Colombian territory.

From darner Duque there will more to write about, and let’s not find it weird that despite the cares of the Empire, he falls through one of those holes impossible to stitch.

More than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years

It appears that death has taken over Colombia and is refusing to leave. How many more must die to satisfy the Moloch of greed, opportunism, and ambition?

In April 1948, the popular uprising known as “El Bogotazo” broke out in Bogotá, protesting the assassination of Presidential candidate and likely winner Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. The rioting and subsequent repression cost more than 3,000 lives and resulted in the destruction of entire neighborhoods of the Colombian capital.

“The assassination of the liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, in 1948, produced an organization of thugs affiliated with the police and the army... These henchmen of the conservative regime spread throughout the national territory with the aim of killing liberals and communists, atheists and Masons.”(1)

Belisario Betancourt – president of Colombia from 1982 to 1986 – referred to the persistent patterns of social, economic and political exclusion as “objective factors” of violence.(2) This sister South America nation became the battlefield of drug cartels, closely linked to U.S. secret services, which were complicit in the extermination of social and political leaders that could constitute a threat to imperialist interests and the Colombian oligarchy.

During the Belisario Betancourt administration, despite peace agreements reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the April 19 Movement (M-19), and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL), paramilitary groups and political and Armed Forces sectors opposed to the agreements provoked a new escalation of violence that culminated in the Palace of Justice siege by M-19 guerrillas, at the end of 1985.

The government of Virgilio Barco (1986-1990) announced the continuity of the peace process initiated by the Betancourt government, on the basis of the reintegration of guerrillas into civilian life, but the surge in crimes against the Patriotic Union (political party formed by the FARC/UP) intensified barely a month after the new Congress began its sessions.

On August 30, 1986, the first of the elected UP leaders, Leonardo Posada Pedraza, was assassinated in Barrancabermeja (Santander), while UP Senator Pedro Nel Jiménez Obando suffered the same fate in Villavicencio (Meta).

The advance of paramilitarism and drug trafficking later added further victims: Judge Gustavo Zuluaga in October; the Director of the Anti-Narcotics Unit, Colonel Jaime Ramírez, in November; and the Editor of El Espectador, Guillermo Cano, in December.

With the breakdown of the peace talks and agreements, the UP became a direct target for paramilitary groups. On Sunday, October 11, 1987, UP leader and former Presidential candidate, Jaime Pardo Leal, was shot dead by hit men when returning to Bogotá with his wife and three children.

The year 1988 went down in history as “the year of the massacres,” as paramilitary groups acted with extreme violence and total impunity against anyone suspected of being of the left. The culmination was the assassination, on March 22, 1990, of the UP Presidential candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, and on April 26, the murder of the M-19 candidate, Carlos Pizarro, while traveling on a plane to Barranquilla.

Some point out that there are differences between those events and the recent incidents that have befallen the long-suffering land of Colombia, especially in the years in which attempts have been made to build peace. Although some elements may appear to be different, in essence what was sought then and now is to deprive social movements of leadership, and exterminate everything considered to be leftist, or that simply opposes the interests of pro-Yankee oligarchic power in Colombia.

Following the process that culminated in important agreements in Havana, it appeared that – at long last – an end to so many years of war was in sight. The Colombian people breathed a sigh of relief, but the hope didn’t last long, as the violence against left leaders was unleashed once again and the crime wave grew exponentially.

BLOCKING THE WAY FOR THE LEFT

The latest report from the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office revealed that between January 1, 2016, and June 30 of this year, 311 human rights defenders and social or community leaders were killed, while 35 cases were reported in 2013.

This is a daily massacre, in which extreme right organizations seem to enjoy carte blanche, and the assassinations revive the specter of terror that hung over the country years ago.

Gustavo Petro, the 2018 leftist Presidential candidate, has demanded that President-elect Iván Duque speak out against the murders of those who supported his “Colombia Humana” movement in the recent elections. “His silence permits the empowerment of the murderers,” he stressed.

Only a few days ago the assassination of Ana María Cortés, secretary of Petro’s campaign in Cáceres, was made known. Alberto Brunori, Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Colombia, has stated that the defense of human rights in the country is practiced under siege.

There are already thousands of dead and disappeared, and the figure increases daily. The “condor” that bloodied Latin America seems to have spread its wings over Colombia, and the current criminal offensive attempts, without a doubt, to eliminate any opposition.

During the recent elections, the mass private media unleashed a strong smear campaign against the left, demonizing progressive leaders, former guerrillas, unscrupulously deceiving and sowing fear among the population. The objective was to block the way for the left.

The judicial persecution and subsequent accusations against former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich is part of the neo-fascist offensive on the continent.

And as if that were not enough, President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos announced in a televised address to the entire country on May 26, as a great achievement, the imminent formalization in Brussels of the Colombia’s entry into NATO as a global partner. “We will be the only country in Latin America with this privilege,” Santos declared. The announcement became a reality on May 31.

In a region declared a “Zone of Peace,” some right-wing governments seem to be playing with something as sacred and necessary as life itself. The United States is attempting to turn Colombia into its South American aircraft carrier, a NATO missile against Venezuela, a bastion of its hegemonic interests, covering it with military bases. To achieve its aims, it needs to be able to act with complete calm, without any obstacles, which is why it is building Yankee pax, in a scenario in which social leaders are also a hindrance.

(1)From: Fidel Castro Ruz, La Paz en Colombia, (Havana: Editora Política, 2008): 67
(2)Marc Chernick, U.S. political scientist and researcher at Georgetown University, Washington, in his recent book Acuerdo posible. Taken from: Fidel Castro Ruz, La Paz en Colombia, (Havana: Editora Política, 2018): 257.

  • Published in World

Colombia: Duque To Review Santos' Recognition Of Palestine

President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos' decision, which was detailed in an August 3 letter.

Colombia's new government said it would review former President Juan Manuel Santos' recognition of Palestine after the previously unreleased decision was made public on Wednesday.

RELATED: Palestinian Stanford Student Resigns After Post Critical of Zionism

President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos' decision, which was detailed in an August 3 letter to the Palestinian representative in Colombia,  the foreign ministry said.

"Given possible omissions that could come to light about the way in which this decision was taken by the outgoing president, the government will cautiously examine its implications and will act according to international law," new Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said in a statement.

Santos decided to recognize Palestine as a "free, independent and sovereign state," according to the letter, which was circulated to Reuters and other reporters by the foreign ministry.

"Just as the Palestinian people have a right to constitute an independent state, Israel has a right to live in peace alongside its neighbors," the letter said. 

The Israeli embassy in Bogota said it was surprised and disappointed. 

"We ask the Colombian government to reverse the decision made by the previous administration in its last days, which contravenes the close relations, extensive cooperation in vital areas and interests of both countries," it said in a statement posted to its Twitter account.

The decision came to light during a visit to Colombia by United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She attended Duque's inauguration on Tuesday and on Wednesday visited Venezuelan migrants in the northern border city of Cucuta.

The United States, a close ally of Israel, was getting more information about the situation and had no immediate comment, the U.S. mission to the United Nations said.

"We thank the Colombian government for this decision and we are sure that it will contribute significantly to generating the necessary conditions in the search for peace in the Middle East," the Palestine representative said in a statement on Wednesday.

Palestine has been recognized as a sovereign state by the U.N. General Assembly, the International Criminal Court and at least 136 countries.

Palestine seeks to create a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands that Israel captured in the 1967 war.

Colombia abstained in December from a vote by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on a resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor.

 (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

  • Published in World
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