Average Colombian better off than average world citizen: Prosperity index

Average Colombian better off than average world citizen: Prosperity index

Photo: La FM

The average Colombian is better off than the average world citizen, a recently published global prosperity index claimed.

The index prepared by investment think tank Legatum Institute put together six core principles of prosperity that have been widely discussed in both the academic and policy community, and which we are documented to have a strong relationship with both GDP and individual well-being in a country.

The principles are: Opportunity; Education; Health; Freedom; Safety; and Social Values.

Other two variables included in the ranking are Economy and Governance.

Colombia was ranked 66th overall among all the countries, a result inside the upper middle level, though only 5 positions away from the lower middle tier.

Colombia not quite Norway
Top of the pecking order for the fifth time running is Norway, ahead of Switzerland and rapidly improving New Zealand. At the bottom sits Central African Republic, accompanied by other Sub-Saharan countries.

Colombia is the 8th among all Latin American countries, far behind the region’s leaders Uruguay (30th), Chile (33rd) and Costa Rica (34th).

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Colombia cattle ranchers fear ‘communist’ redistribution of lands after FARC deal

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Colombia’s federation of cattle ranchers, representing the country’s large land owners, on Friday rejected a recently made agrarian deal with the FARC that according to the agricultural businessmen includes Venezuela-like expropriations of private property.

Jose Felix Lafaurie, president of FEDEGAN, said the joint report from the negotiating table in Havana “generates more questions than answers,” and opens the door to legally acquired land being expropriated.

His letter to chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle Lombana also warns that FARC and other illegal armed groups are concentrating land ownership, saying that ranchers will not accept losses of land while illegal groups benefit.

Lafaurie is a loyal ally of former president Uribe and strong critic of Santos. Mired in corruption scandals several times, he has managed to continue his political career while also running significant business interests of his own.

While Lafaurie accepted that illegally taken land should be returned, his letter expressed concern that the ability to expropriate legally owned, but unused lands to give it to small farmers would “open a Pandora’s Box” in which legal land owners would become targets of a process in which the government agencies would have too much discretionary power.

However, FEDEGAN cattle ranchers have been accused of being some of the chief propagators of paramilitary violence in Colombia, and Lafaurie himself has admitted to FEDEGAN paying AUC paramilitaries, the main perpetrators of massive land theft.
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Obama invites Colombia entrepreneur to discuss US immigration reform

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A Colombia-born entrepreneur will meet US President Barack Obama on Monday to discuss a pending immigration reform.

Businessman Alexander Torrenegra will meet Obama in support of the president’s attempt to push an immigration reform through congress. Torrenegra is part of a delegation of immigrant-entrepreneurs who will meet the US president.

“We Latinos have a stigma in the United States, we are considered second-class citizens,” the entrepreneur told Colombian radio station Caracol.

Torrenegra said that one of the main purposes for the meeting with the Obama was to secure better conditions for immigrants in the country.

According to newspaper El Tiempo, the Colombian-born innovator immigrated to the United States 15 years ago. Since then he has founded “dozens of companies,” generating more than $35 million a year.

Among Torrenegra’s companies are internet services VoiceBunny and WeHostels.

According to US newspaper USA Today, Obama is close to pushing his immigration bill in the Senate, although the Republican-dominated House of Representatives is still uncertain. The meeting with immigrant business owners are meant to support Obama’s argument — that the reform would be good for the country’s economy.

More than 900,000 Colombians are estimated to live in the United States.

Source: Colombia Reports

Almost all of Colombia to be online by 2014: Santos

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that by 2014 almost all of the country will be connected by fiber optics “for training and the expansion of knowledge.”

Santos spoke at the opening ceremony of the XIV International Virtual Educa, a conference, exhibition and multilateral forum on education, innovation and ICT, taking place in Colombia’s second city Medellin, 2013′s most innovative city in the world.

The president said that by the end of his presidential term next year 1,078 of the 1,121 municipalities in the country will be connected, allowing communications and internet to reach some of the most rural communities.

“When we began our term in government, only 200 municipalities were connected with fiber-optics,” said Santos. The government also expects to have trained over 200,000 teachers in the use of ICT in the classroom by the end of 2013, that is up from 40,000 in 2010.

“At first there was an average of 20 students per computer [in schools], we should end this year with an average of 13 children per computer and in 2014, if we continue as we are, we should have an average of eight children per computer,” said Santos.

“Universal access to technology is the best guarantee that new generations close social gaps which have so far created educational differences,” said the president.

The event brings together representatives from 20 countries and highlights innovation, education, competitiveness and development.

Source: Colombia Reports

Medellin mad at Madonna’s son

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Madonna’s son has left Medellin feeling hurt and under-appreciated after posting a photo of the city labeling it as the “cocaine center of Columbia,” which has not only rubbed people the wrong way because of the drugs reference, but also because he misspelled “Colombia.”

Rocco Ritchie took the photo at his mother’s hugely successful concert last November and posted it on the social networking site, Instagram. The 12-year-old has a private account so the offending photo is just starting to circulate.

Neither Rocco nor his pop-diva mom have made any public comments, but many in Medellin want an apology.

“It is outrageous that this is happening…and if that’s what he believes, his mother should say something. It is an insult to the city that has been so hospitable to her,” said city promoter Luis Guillermo Sossa.

Although some have brushed off the comments as just teenage naiveté, not everyone agrees.

“The thing that offends me most about this,” said one Medellin resident, “is that it is just one more phrase that invites tourists to get wasted on my homeland, there’s more here than sex and drugs.”

This seems to be the reoccurring theme among the infuriated inhabitants of Colombia’s second city.

“I know that Colombia is recognized abroad for the cultivation and trafficking of coca, but it is a sadness for the country to be subjected to these kinds of comments and opinions…I think it comes from people who know little of our country. Colombia is much more than coca,” said another resident.

sources: Colombia Reports, Terra.

Hijo de Madonna ofende a Medellín con una polémica foto

El hijo de Madonna se refirió a Medellín como el \"Centro de la cocaína\".Foto: Instagram

El hijo de Madonna se refirió a Medellín como el \”Centro de la cocaína\”.
Foto: Instagram

El hijo de Madonna, Rocco Ritchie, causó polémica en Instagram cuando publicó una fotografía de Medellín junto a un pie de foto que decía “Centro de la cocaína, Colombia”.

Los promotores de la ciudad rechazaron el hecho y afirmaron que esto genera una mala imagen para el país.

“Es indignante lo que está ocurriendo con esta fotografía del hijo de Madonna, que si opina eso, su madre debería hablar. Es una ofenda con la ciudad que le dio la hospitalidad”, afirmó a Noticias Caracol Luis Guillermo Sossa, promotor de Medellín.

En el mes de noviembre, Madonna realizó dos exitosos conciertos en esta ciudad, donde elogió al público asistente. Por esta razón, muchos esperan las disculpas de la “Reina del pop” por el comportamiento de su hijo de 12 años.

Fuente: Terra

Colombia inaugurates new Consulate in Florida

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Colombia’s foreign minister inaugurated a new consulate in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday.

“You don’t know how happy I am to open this new consulate,” said Minister Maria Angela Holguin Tuesday evening. The Colombian government expects the consultate to be able to serve and assist at least 300,000 compatriots residing in central and northern Florida, in the U.S.

Consul General Maria Londoño Jaramillo will lead a team of 11 people at the new facility. The office will have the ability to provide: passports, visas, military cards, civil registration paperwork (birth, marriage and bonds) and identity cards.

Before the consulate in Orlando became operational, many local Colombians had to make expensive and time consuming trips to Miami to do any paperwork or seek assistance.

The Colombian consulate in Orlando is one of six to be opened since October 2010. There are currently 104 Colombian consulates worldwide.

Farc threatens to shut down economy in southern Colombia

The Colombian Army and National Police in the south of the country have been put are on high alert after government intelligence discovered that FARC guerrillas are forcing farmers to go on strike, reported Radio Caracol Tuesday.

According to the radio station, farmers and traders in the department of Putumayo received pamphlets warning them that they should close their establishments in support of the shut-down of the local economy which is set to begin on Wednesday.

Given that the situation would alter public order including supply of food and transport the security forces have adopted some security precautions.

FARC threatens to shut down economy in southern Colombia

FARC threatens to shut down economy in southern Colombia – Colombia Reports

The information gathered so far by intelligence suggests that the strikes will include the municipalities Villa Garzon, Puero Asis and Orito with potential road blocks being established, as well as possible disruption to the river Putumayo and Caqueta.

Putumayo judicial authorities recently warned about the increasing violence in Putumayo caused by drug trafficking organization The “Rastrojos,” an ally of the FARC.
Source: Colombia Reports

Juan Manuel Santos – a tale of two presidents

This is my piece published today on Colombia Reports to mark the second anniversary of the start of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidency.

Juan Manuel Santos - a tale of two presidents by Kevin Howlett from Colombia-Politics.comColombian President Juan Manuel Santos appears to be loved abroad but is dangerously close to becoming loathed at home.We are halfway through the four-year mandate and the president’s support is plummeting at an alarming rate. Approval ratings stood at 87% less than a year ago while they now hover below the 50% mark.
The international community thinks so highly of Santos — the shuttle-diplomacy president — that there is talk of his becoming the next U.N. Secretary General.
The contrast at home could not be starker however, with a poll by El Tiempo newspaper this weekend revealing that over 60% of Colombians would not again vote for Santos.
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Uribe’s opposition a gain for Colombia’s democracy by Colombia Reports

Editorial by Colombia Reports

The rift between Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe is a welcoming step in Colombia’s development as a democracy.

Colombia may almost always have officially been a democracy, but the quality of the country’s democracy has traditionally been very low when measuring along the lines of participation, representation, accountability, transparency and solidarity.

Add the fact that power struggles in Colombia have long gone hand in hand with violence, either through competition between political elites, the repression of opposition, or by violently trying to overthrow the establishment.

Colombia’s transition from an almost feudal system ruled by elites represented by two political parties to an actually functional democratic state is a work in progress and is long from being finished.

In order to reach a quality democracy, Colombia first had to break from a traditional two-party hegemony.

Before the 1991 constitution, Colombia was run, through pseudo-elections, by the Conservative and Liberal Party. Even though this hegemony was officially ended by the latest constitution and a number of armed opposition forces were included to the democratic process, it wasn’t until 2001, when Uribe came into the picture, that Colombia started breaking from its past.

First, Uribe broke from his Liberal Party to successfully run as an independent candidate, drawing support from several sectors in society and becoming Colombia’s first independent president.

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Colombia Against Mines No Más Minas Antipersonal Help! Ayúdanos!

Colombia Against Mines - Colombia No Mas Minas Antipersonal

Colombia Against Mines - Help Us - Ayúdanos !

Colombia‘s increasing number of landmine victims are the  “poorest, most removed from urban centers and health care” of all victims of the country’s armed conflict, said the director of the Colombian Campaign against Landmines (CCCM) in a call for donations Sunday.

“Generally, we must keep the victims in mind, but pay special attention to the landmine victims; farmers who need our support and accompaniment,” Alvaro Jimenez told Colombia reports which is dedicating its annual Christmas fundraiser to the NGO.

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Jimenez confirmed government figures that more people fell victim to landmines in 2011 than in 2010.

According to official figures, nearly 10,000 Colombians have fallen victim to landmines since 1990. More than 2,000 of these victims died as a result of their injuries. Of the victims, 5,964 were members of the security forces and 3,591 were civilians.

Between January and October this year, 132 civilians and 237 members of the security forces were injured by landmines.

The increase in victims “is because of the increase in military operations by the armed forces which results in an increase of the use [of landmines] by illegal armed groups like the FARC, ELN, paramilitaries or criminal groups,” said the NGO director.

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Shakira begins official duties as Obama adviser

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Colombian pop star and part-time philanthropist, Shakira, began her official duties on Thursday as an advisory to U.S President Barack Obama’s official committee to improve Hispanic education levels.

Shakira, who is the founder and director of educational NGO the Barefoot Foundation, said of her role on the President’s Advisory Committee on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, “there is no better investment than the investment in our children, especially when they are very young.”

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$8M in aid promised to Colombia for rainy season relief

$8M in aid promised to Colombia for rainy season relief as published in Colombia Reports

George Zamka, hijo de madre Colombiana Comanda la misión de la Nasa

Colombia news - Zamka

An astronaut of Colombian decent, George Zamka, will command a NASA flight aboard space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station on February 7.

The mission, which is set to launch from Cape Canaveral in central Florida, will mark the end of a historic year for Hispanic astronauts with NASA.

Since February 2009, NASA missions have included Puerto Ricans Joseph Acaba and Danny Oliva, in addition to Mexican Jose Hernandez.

For Zamka, this mission will be his second trip to outer space. Zamka first travelled to space aboard space shuttle Discovery in 2007.

Zamka and his crew will be delivering the most advanced life-support system ever flown in space to the International Space Sation.

Zamka, whose mother is from Colombia, become a pilot with NASA in 1998 after leading a successful career in the U.S. Air Force.

He was born in the United States, but moved with his family when he was fourteen to Medelin, Colombia.

The move to Colombia was very challenging for Zamka, he told Terra Colombia.

Zamka goes on to explain that his experience living in Colombia empowered him with the necessary skills to be successful in his professional life.

“One day I thought, while taking notes in Spanish: Oh my god, how wonderful is it that I can understand Spanish. I would never of done that if I hadn’t lived in Colombia; this allowed me to appreciate learning other languages and cultures and obviously this has also served me here (in NASA) as we are building the International Space Station”.

Zamka arrived to Cape Canaveral last week to begin making the final preparations for his critical mission onboard spaceship Endeavour.

Source: Brett Borkan – Colombia Reports

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