Judi LynnJudi Lynn's Journal
John Jairo Velasquez, alias "Popeye," is an assassin who will be marching with former
President Alvaro Uribe. | Photo: AFP
Published 31 March 2017 (8 hours 21 minutes ago)
. . .
One of Colombias most notorious drug traffickers is set to join in an anti-government march against corruption tomorrow with far-right former President Alvaro Uribe.
John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, more commonly known as Popeye, was a former hitman for infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel. Uribe, a staunch critic of President Juan Manuel Santos government peace deal with the FARC rebel group, is a key figure in the planned march along with his Democratic Center Party. Other far-right figures, including former Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, are supporting the demonstration.
During his time working for Escobar, Velasquez is estimated to have killed around 300 people and oversaw countless more murders against rival gang members, journalists, judges, activists, police and paramilitaries.
He was only convicted of one murder, the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan in 1989, before being released in 2014. Following his release, Velasquez has gained a large social media presence and is a self-described political activist and defender of human rights.
Brazil's Temer Sees Approval Rate Drop to 10 Percent
March 31, 2017 5:45 PM
A new poll shows the popularity of Brazilian President Michel Temer falling to just 10 percent.
The Instituto Ibope poll published on Friday also finds that 55 percent of Brazilians believe Temer's performance as president is either bad or terrible.
In December, Temer's approval was at 13 percent and his disapproval was at 46 percent.
Brazil's top electoral court next week will start deciding whether the ticket that elected Temer and former President Dilma Rousseff in 2014 should be annulled due to alleged illegal campaign financing. That could lead to his removal.
Ibope interviewed 2,000 people and the poll's margin of error is 2 percentage points.
(Short article, no more at link.)
Honduran Gang Used Tropical Storm Agatha to Launder Millions of Drug Money
Print article Published: Thursday, 30 March 2017 15:08
When tropical storm Agatha hit Central America in May 2010, notorious Honduran drug traffickers saw an opportunity to launder their illicit money, the daily La Tribuna claimed in an exclusive report on Wednesday.
"Los Cachiros," an organized crime group once run by the Maradiaga brothers, allegedly set up several shell companies that were hired by the state to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure.
The Honduran daily said the gang then used the companies to launder an estimated US$ 6.4 million of previously made illicit profits.
According to the report, Los Cachiros carried out 28 major infrastructure projects to repair bridges and roads in Colón and Olancho decimated by the storm.
The paper published photographs of contracts that showed the projects were funded by the state. It claimed the works were supervised by companies that either didnt exist or were controlled by the gang.
The Honduran government doled out lucrative emergency contracts in the wake of the storm and a majority of those projects were given to companies owned by the Maradiaga brothers.
Former President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo
Lobo's sonny boy, Fabio Lobo
Nicaraguan immigrant dies almost a week after trying to commit suicide at Southern California ICE fa
Nicaraguan immigrant dies almost a week after trying to commit suicide at Southern California ICE facility
MARCH 30, 2017 3:45 PM
Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba left his home in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, last October without saying goodbye to his mother.
Five months later, on Tuesday, she got word that he had died from injuries sustained in a suicide attempt at a Southern California immigration detention center.
. . .
She told another media outlet in Nicaragua that he had left home without a suitcase or any other belongings.
Gonzalez-Gadba, 32, was found hanging in his cell March 22 by an employee during a routine evening check. After cutting Gonzalez-Gadba down, the employee alerted medical staff at the Adelanto Detention Facility and the inmate was taken to the nearby Victor Valley Global Medical Center.
Mar 31, 4:05 PM EDT
NEW YORK DRUG CASE OPENS WINDOW ON DARK PERIOD FOR HONDURAS
BY CLAUDIA TORRENS AND BEN FOX
NEW YORK (AP) -- A case unfolding in a lower Manhattan courtroom has caused political tremors in Honduras, seeming to confirm long-held suspicions that corruption at the highest levels of government helped turn the Central American country into a violent epicenter of the drug trade at the start of this decade.
Fabio Porfirio Lobo, the son of the Honduran president in 2010-2013, is preparing to go before a federal judge for sentencing after pleading guilty to his role in a drug-trafficking ring involving members of Honduras' national police. But it is the details of the conspiracy that emerged in testimony and newly released court documents which have captivated people back home by tying his father and a brother of the current president directly to traffickers.
Political and civil society groups have been demanding investigations into the allegations, especially against former President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo Sosa, who remains a leader in the ruling National Party and is among the wealthiest people in the country, with extensive agricultural land holdings.
"This is something that everyone suspected," said Edmundo Orellana, a former attorney general of Honduras. "But what we didn't know was the extent of the involvement with the politicians. This has been a surprise."
. . .
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Honduras' president on March 23 and praised the country's progress fighting drugs and corruption.
Fri Mar 31, 2017 | 2:43pm EDT
Colombia's FARC rebels give up guns in disarmament camps
Former fighters from Colombia's FARC rebel group are handing over thousands of weapons and other materials to international officials in special camps, as the group's six-month disarmament process continues.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement with the government late last year to put an end to their part in Latin America's longest-running armed conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions.
Weapons handed over to the United Nations will be stored in secure containers until they can be turned into three memorial statues. The rebels are expected to turn in all arms by June, and some 8,000 are set to be registered by this weekend.
Members of the Jacobo Arenas rebel unit, which operated in mountains of Cauca province, were among 6,900 FARC fighters who left behind clandestine camps where they had lived for decades, crisscrossing the country on foot, by boat and by truck to get to 26 zones monitored by the United Nations.
New Guinea highland wild dogs are the most ancient and primitive canids in the world.
Paraguay fears dictatorship as president moves to amend constitution
After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, a senator steamrolled through the changes that could allow Horacio Cartes to be re-elected in 2018
Laurence Blair in Asunción
Thursday 30 March 2017 05.30 EDT
After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, Paraguays president, Horacio Cartes, has moved to amend the constitution to allow him to be re-elected in 2018, prompting warnings that the country where Alfredo Stroessner ruled for more than 30 years is once again sliding towards dictatorship.
Members of the governing rightwing Colorado party which has held power for all but four of the past 70 years joined with several opposition legislators to propose changes to the senates procedural rules, a precursor to introducing a re-election bill after a similar attempt was narrowly defeated in August.
Paraguayans have to go out on to the streets to defend democracy, which is under attack, Rafael Filizzola, a senator with the leftwing Democratic Progressive Party, told reporters.
On Tuesday, riot police and elite troops sealed off the small South American countrys congress. Inside, legislators traded punches and fierce insults, and after the speaker of the house delayed a vote until Thursday a pro-Cartes senator seized a microphone, proclaimed himself senate president, and steam-rolled through the changes with a show of hands. A vote on re-election itself is expected to be passed in the coming days.
written by Jamie Vaughan Johnson March 30, 2017
Colombias new vice-president is the decorated golden boy of Colombias police force. He has, however, also been accused of links to both drug cartels and paramilitary forces.
Oscar Naranjo, retired general and former National Police Chief, was named an honorary special agent by the DEA in 2010, the same year he was heralded as the Worlds Best Policeman.
However, he has in the past been called out by former paramilitary leaders, drug traffickers and retired officials for allegedly receiving bribes and providing protection to drug traffickers.
A former CIA agent, Baruch Vega, raised a red flag over Naranjo in 2006 in an interview with news website Narco News.
1,000-Year-Old Toy Viking Boat Unearthed in Norway
By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | March 29, 2017 01:44pm ET
A wooden toy discovered during an excavation of an Iron Age site in central Norway hints that 1,000 years ago, a child may have imagined ferocious Viking battles by playing with a carved replica of a ship.
Found buried in a dry well at a small farm in the town of Ørland on the coastal tundra, the boat is whittled in a style resembling Viking vessels, with an uplifted prow and a hole in the center that likely held a mast for a sail.
The Viking Age, dating from around A.D. 800 to 1066, marked a time when Scandinavian sailors and explorers voyaged to Europe's coastal regions and as far as Bahdad, and their distinctive sailing vessels were well-known apparently, even by inland farmers, who carved replicas of their boats for children. [Fierce Fighters: 7 Secrets of Viking Culture]
"This toy boat says something about the people who lived here," Ulf Fransson, a field leader for the dig and an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) University Museum, said in a statement.
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