Colombia Video News Briefs: Monkeypox Arrives, Fatal Prison Fire, San Andrés Escapes Tropical Storm, Truth Commission
Finance Colombia’s weekly news recap is now available on Youtube in video – click here.
Colombia has Monkeypox.
The Colombian national health institute has confirmed at least 5 cases, all traced to male Colombians returning from Europe. The government has urged calm and stated that Monkeypox is not as contagious as COVID or other communicable diseases. So far most cases are in Bogotá, though there is at least one case in Medellín. Patients are said to be in quarantine.
— MinSaludCol (@MinSaludCol) June 24, 2022
Tuluá Prison Fire
At least 52 are dead from a grisly fire in a medium security prison in Tuluá, about 90 minutes north of Cali, Colombia’s third largest city. The prison, built to house 1,000 inmates had 1,200 at the time of the conflagration. inmates, but is built with a capacity for just a thousand.
At least 52 men have died in the fire, with some patients arriving at burn units in Cali with 100 percent of their body burned. So far, not many details have been released, but it appears stacks of mattresses were set aflame in either a prison riot or an escape attempt. President Ivan Duque issued a statement of condolence for the families; so has President elect Gustavo Petro, who went on to criticize the Colombian prison system as structured for revenge instead of rehabilitation.
Andrés Breaks Up With Bonnie
We reported in Finance Colombia on Tropical Storm Bonnie that was headed towards the Southern Caribbean Coast and on towards the Colombian Archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia. The good news is that the storm has passed without causing major damage. The governor of the Caribbean archipelago with a population of 60,000, Everth Hawkins reports 22 homes damaged, but emphasizes San Andrés remains fully open for travel and tourism.
The Truth Commission, set up under the 2016 peace accords released its final 800 page report last week. Among many other recommendations, it calls for a reframing of the war on drugs, a stronger commitment to human rights by the Colombian defense forces and government, an end to aerial fumigation of coca plants with glyphosate, and an end to the military draft of young men.
The commission also called the rebel insurgents to account for their vast and heinous crimes, such as kidnapping, raping or forcing into combat an estimated 34,000 children.. All told, the commission says approximately 260,000 Colombian civilian noncombatants died during the armed insurgency, that still continues today under antagonists such as the ELN and the FARC dissidents who refused to demobilize and accept the peace deal.
President Elect Gustavo Petro says he will incorporate the truth commission’s recommendations into his administration’s policy. On the other hand, outgoing President Ivan Duque made sure he was out of the country when the report was presented. Duque campaigned against the peace accords, and during his administration, did not make its implementation a priority.
The report’s recommendations are not legally binding, but the report is intended to create a historical record, and present guidance to prevent such atrocities from happening in the future.
Seeking To Calm Fears
There is a little less panic in certain sectors as President Elect Gustavo Petro has appointed some notable non-radicals to his upcoming administration.
Petro has named former senator, one-time presidential candidate, conservative party member, and peace negotiator Alvaro Leyva Durán as the new foreign minister. A left-wing President appointing a conservative party senator to head foreign relations sends a strong message to Colombians & foreign governments that there may be less crazy in store than people feared.
The UN’s former undersecretary of economics and social affairs, José Antonio Ocampo will be the new finance minister.
One of Petro’s opponents for the presidency, the centrist academic Alejandro Gaviria has been named as part of Petro’s transition team, and many think he may be named as Education Minister. Gaviria served as health minister during the presidency of former president Juan Manuel Santos.