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WORLD
June 13, 2013 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
CALI, Colombia - Ask Ana Julia Torres how many children she has, and she'll say 652: two human offspring plus the hundreds of tigers, lions, mules, snakes, monkeys and other species residing at her refuge north of here. The creatures have typically been seized from or cast off by narcos, circuses, animal traffickers and bored collectors. Her reference to the "children" inhabiting her 8-acre private facility, named Villa Lorena after her daughter, reflects her deep love for the animals.
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WORLD
January 5, 2014 | By Chris Kraul
VALLEDUPAR, Colombia - A Colombian law enacted in 2011 gave hope to peasant farmer Miguel Serna and hundreds of thousands of other displaced farmers like him that they would soon recover the land that rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers forced them to abandon during decades of armed conflict. But such hopes have begun to fade in the face of government inaction. "It's a beautiful law that gave us hope we might recover our land. But we're still in limbo and under constant threat," said Serna, who in 1997 was forced by paramilitaries to flee his small farm in El Toco township in northern Colombia, along with dozens of his neighbors As leader of the community's displaced farmers, Serna has spearheaded efforts to recover the land under the Victims and Land Restitution Law. But only four families in his group of 80 have received favorable verdicts from special government land tribunals, and none has the money to clear and farm the properties, nor do they dare reoccupy them for fear of reprisal.
WORLD
August 5, 2013 | By Chris Kraul
BOGOTA, Colombia -- In a radio interview Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos backed away from a self-imposed deadline of November for completing a peace accord that is being negotiated in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Negotiators, who are now attending their 12th session, which ends Saturday, have reached agreement on just one of six major points -- the section on agrarian reform -- that will make up a final deal. It took the better part of seven months to hammer that out. “If in November we haven't finished entirely, we'll see where we are, and if we have to prolong the talks a couple of months, we'll extend them," Santos told Caracol Radio in Bogota.
BUSINESS
August 6, 2010 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
If you seek a monument to the security gains Colombia has made under President Alvaro Uribe's eight-year administration, the newly inaugurated JW Marriott Hotel here is a good place to look. Improved security, the dynamic economy and some tax breaks are attracting the major international hotel chains that for decades shied away from Colombia. Uribe, who leaves office Saturday, officiated at the 264-room Marriott's ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. "I don't have words to express my thanks for the confidence you show in Colombia," Uribe said to executives of Marriott and Grupo Poma, the El Salvador-based firm that owns the new hotel under a franchise agreement.
WORLD
August 12, 2013 | By Chris Kraul
FLORENCIA, Colombia - The expansion of China's middle class isn't some abstract notion in this sweltering corner of Colombia's Amazon River basin. It's driving a private-public partnership trying to steer the local economy away from illegal coca farming and toward filling Asia's growing demand for expensive ornamental fish. Fish farming around Florencia, a city of 165,000 people, is focused on the silver arowana, a highly coveted species called dragonfish in China. Each silver arowana costs pennies to raise but sells at retail for up to $40 in Hong Kong, where collectors view an aquarium filled with nine arowanas as a sign of good luck.
WORLD
November 28, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
President Hugo Chavez's government called Venezuela's ambassador home from Colombia, deepening a diplomatic crisis. The two countries' leaders have exchanged increasingly sharp words since Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe last week ended Chavez's efforts to broker a prisoner swap to free hostages held by Colombian rebels.
WORLD
December 16, 2006 | From Times Wire Reports
Ecuador recalled its ambassador from Bogota, escalating a diplomatic spat over Colombia's fumigation of illegal drug crops along the shared border. Ecuador says U.S.-backed spraying of herbicides in Colombia hurts the environment and damages the health of people on its side of the border.
WORLD
March 25, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
The Bush administration wants Congress to let it send more military and civilian personnel to Colombia to help it "deal a decisive blow against narco-terrorists," Gen. James T. Hill, chief of the Southern Command, said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. The administration wanted to raise the cap on U.S. personnel in Colombia to 800 military and 600 civilian contractors from the current 400 limit on each, Hill said. He said U.S. involvement in combat would still be banned.
WORLD
August 19, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
Three Irish Republican Army-linked fugitives who fled convictions in Colombia surrendered to Irish police after eight months on the run, police officials said. Ireland's national police force said James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly were being interviewed by officers at various stations in Dublin, the capital. The three were convicted last year of training Colombian rebels in bomb-making techniques.
WORLD
May 21, 2013 | By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
BOGOTA, Colombia - Leftist rebel Reinel Usuga surrendered this month because he was afraid of dying in battle and being buried in an unmarked grave even as rebel leaders negotiate a possible peace agreement that would make such a death pointless - perhaps even absurd. But Usuga, 30, a squad commander with the 57th Front Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, said in an interview days after his surrender that another issue irked him: The apparent "comfort" of rebel leaders negotiating in Cuba was an irritating juxtaposition to the everyday risks he and his comrades were facing in the jungle.
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