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Indigenous Activists Threatened and Attacked in El Cauca, Colombia

Several indigenous communities in Colombia continue to be victims of human rights violations and threats by paramilitary groups. Moreover, activists also report being attacked by public security forces and ESMAD, Colombia's mobile anti-riot squad, as exposed by Ama Pachamama in a Facebook post from March 11, 2015:

[...] A la fecha, se reportan 57 indígenas heridos, producto de agresiones directas de la Fuerza Pública; nueve heridos por artefactos no convencionales utilizados por el ESMAD; varios por arma de fuego disparada de manera directa.

La situación en la zona es denunciada como crítica, donde se informa la desaparición y posterior asesinato de dos comuneros a mediados de febrero, y que se relaciona con el actual y “continuo patrullaje de hombres armados, presuntos paramilitares en las Haciendas La Emperatriz y el Municipio de Caloto”. Y se agrava por los actos de estigmatización del alcalde de Corinto, Oscar Quintero, quien califica de manera permanente de “terroristas” a las comunidades, y por las amenazas a la vida que se dan a través de “la circulación de panfletos emitidos por grupos paramilitares – Rastrojos y Águilas Negras – anunciando limpieza social y amenazando de manera directa a organizaciones y dirigentes. Quienes tildan a la comunidad y sus dirigentes de ‘Roba tierras’.”

To date, 57 indigenous protesters have been reported injured as a result of direct attacks by security forces; nine wounded by riot police using unconventional devices; several others deliberately shot at. The situation in the area is said to be critical. In mid-February, two villagers disappeared and were later murdered—all connected to the current “continuous patrols by armed men, presumed paramilitary agents in Haciendas La Imperatriz and the town of Caloto.” And this is aggravated by acts of intimidation against the mayor of Corinto, Oscar Quintero, who has called the actions a form of permanent ‘terrorism’  as well as by the threats to the lives of residents through the “circulation of flyers put out by paramilitary groups—the Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras—warning of social cleansing and directly threatening organizations and their leaders. Who branded the community and its leaders ‘land-grabbers.'” 

The Internet gave voice to the fear engendered by the Colombian paramilitary groups knowns as Águilas Negras and Rastrojos, who disseminate threatening leaflets designed to intimidate the social activists of the Cauca region. As a result, many users are condemning their actions and denouncing the situation on Twitter:

New massive threats by Aguilas Negras and Rastrojos in Bta and Cauca

Colombian paramilitary groups Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras are threatening the indigenous people fighting for land in northern Cauca with “social cleansing.” 

Paramilitary groups (Rastrojos and Aguilas Negras) are circulating flyers that directly threaten INDIGENOUS protesters.

Águilas Negras and Rastrojos, among the illegal organizations that most threaten activists in Colombia

For first time Aguilas Negras and Rastrojos sign joint death threat against indigenous leaders in Cauca

Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

March in defense of the River Ovejas, photography by Natalio Pinto, authorized use

Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.

Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:

El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.

The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.

With regards to the protest's goals, she added:

El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.

On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.

Images have circulated on Twitter:

Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.

In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:

I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!

Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:

‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’

The Internet of Things and Smart Crops

Today, it's not enough to just talk about the Internet. This concept has broadened and it's a good challenge for those who want to become electronic engineers. César Viloria Núñez, a professor at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, explains what the Internet of things is:

Consiste en que las cosas en general estén conectadas y que no solo las personas ingresemos información a la red, sino que las cosas mismas generen información, la compartan entre ellas y tomen decisiones con el fin de automatizar distintos procesos.

It's about things in general being connected, and it's not only people feeding data to the web, but the things themselves generate information that they share it amongst themselves and make decisions with the aim of automating different processes.

Viloria Núñez tries to explain the concept with the example of a ‘smart refrigerator', but he also mentions smart crops. He wonders:

¿Qué tal una red de sensores en el terreno cultivado que identifique qué tan húmedo o seco está el suelo para activar automáticamente el sistema de riego? Tal vez dependiendo de qué tan maduro esté el producto cultivado se requiera más o menos agua, o más o menos fertilizantes, o los sensores pueden identificar si el cultivo está siendo atacado por alguna plaga para activar el suministro automático de insecticida.

What about a network of sensors in a cultivated piece of land that identifies how irrigated or dry the soil is to automatically activate the irrigation system? Maybe relying on how mature the cultivated product is, it will need more or less water, or more or less fertilizer, or the sensors might be able to identify if the crop has been attacked by some plague to activate an automatic supply of insecticide.

Welcome to the Internet of things.

If you are interested in science, don't forget to follow César Viloria Núñez on his accounts on LinkedIn or Twitter.

This post was part of the 28th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

Colombian Economic Deceleration, Is the Government Aware of This Situation?

On a review of what is going on with Colombian economy, Daniel Bustos writes on his blog Trayectoria Económica an analysis of what he calls ‘skinny cows’ or lean times.

Although the economy is still standing thanks to public and private investment and the construction industry, the oil barrel price is lower and tax evasion hasn't stopped. Enough problems, as to wonder: ¿Is the government aware of this situation? Bustos answers:

Parece ser que no, o por lo menos quieren disimular la cuestión a cualquier precio, [...] ¿Que pasa en la economía colombiana si el precio del petróleo sigue cayendo? El país depende demasiado del petróleo, eso se puede observar claramente en las proyecciones de ingresos para los próximos años donde se situaba el precio del petróleo cercano a los 100 dólares para lo cual, con base en esto se realizaron las proyecciones de presupuesto para el mediano plazo pero con las recientes fluctuaciones del precio del crudo dichas proyecciones deben ser re-diseñadas, y los ingresos faltantes deben ser buscados de alguna parte; aunque por otro lado si el precio del dólar sigue subiendo como lo esta haciendo en este momento, sería interesante saber si este aumento de alguna forma ha amortiguado este déficit o incluso los lograra cubrir, desafortunadamente esto solo lo dirán los mercados.

Apparently, it isn't so, or at least they want to hide the issue, whatever the cost [...]. What will happen with Colombian economy if oil prices keep going down? The country relies too much on oil, as we can clearly observe on the income projections for coming years, where the oil price was close to 100 dollars, and over that base, budget mid-term projections were made, but with recent fluctuations in the crude oil, those projections should be redesigned and the income shortage should come from somewhere else. Although on the other hand, if the dollar keeps increasing as it's doing, it'd be interesting to know if this increase has somehow softened the deficit or will even cover it. Unfortunately, only market will tell.

You can follow Daniel Bustos on his account on Twitter or G+

This post was part of the twenty-ninth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 17, 2014.

Heavy Rains Affect Several Neighborhoods in Caucasia, Colombia

The Colombian municipality of Caucasia, located in the subregion of Bajo Cauca Antioquia department has been affected by heavy rains that have resulted in floodings in the urban area. As a consequence, there are several inundated neighborhoods in the city and thousands of people affeted.

Twitter users posted images of the ravaged streets and areas:

Heavy rains from the past hours have left 15 flooded neighborhoods in Caucasia. Entities are dealing with the emergency.

Emergency state due to downpour in the municipality of Caucasia.

Raning season causes 18 affected neighborhoods in Caucasia.

13.000 people affected by rains in Caucasia, Antioquia.

Spain and Latin America Celebrate Open Data Day

One again, bloggers, hackers, designers, experts, as well as citizens interested in open data and transparency will meet to celebrate International Open Data Day 2015 all over the world to promote the opening of government data. The event is expected to have online meetings but also in-person activities all over the globe, requiring exceptional coordination and organization. 

Open Data Day 2015, imagen extraída de la página Escuela de Datos, utilizada con autorización

Open Data Day 2015, image from Escuela de Datos. Used by permission

Faeriedevilish, blogging for School of Data, informs us on the Open Data Day festivities to take place on Saturday, February 21st in Spain and various cities in Latin America. Here you'll find information about the organization and event coordination in Buenos Aires, Lima, Medellín, Madrid, Mexico City, Xalapa, Monterrey, San Salvador, Panama City, etc., where many different activities will be held:

Alerta – Nos unimos a Abierto al Público: queremos que #datosabiertos se vuelva trending topic mundial en Twitter el 21 de febrero. Para lograrlo, las organizaciones participantes tuitearemos con este hashtag (y pediremos a lxs participantes que también lo hagan) el sábado 21 a partir de las 10:00 hora México, 11:00 hora Lima, 13:00 hora Buenos Aires, 17:00 hora Madrid. Importante: no usar el hashtag antes de esta hora.

Alert – We're meeting at Abierto al Público: we want #datosabiertos (#opendata) to trend on Twitter on February 21st. To do so, we'll be tweeting participating organizations with this hashtag (and we ask participants to do the same) on Saturday, February 21st starting at 10:00 in Mexico City, 11:00 in Buenos Aires, 17:00 in Madrid. Important: do not use the hashtag before this time. 

Click here for more information on the International Open Data Day festivities. 

You can follow @faeriedevilish and Escuela de Datos on Twitter.

This selected article participated in the 43rd edition of #LunesdeBlogsGV on February 16, 2015. 

Mining and Ecocide in Santander, Colombia

Illegal mining is a problem affecting the Colombian department of Santander, where residents have seen first-hand how extraction and other processes linked to mining cause pollution. The video below was produced by Corporación PODION, as part of the project “Caravan for the awareness and collection of complaints in defense of the land and the environment within the department of Santander”. It was carried out in October 2014 with the goal of highlighting different complaints and testimonies regarding the violation of environmental rights in the region:

The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America explained the seriousness of the situation in Vélez and Landázuri in a statement:

La comunidad de estos dos municipios, se ha opuesto de manera enérgica ante el inminente deterioro de sus condiciones de vida y el grave daño ambiental que implicará la explotación de 60.000 toneladas de carbón al mes tomando 3 lt/seg de agua, lo que implica más de 93 millones de litros de agua anual, el vertimiento de 0.83 lt/seg , es decir, más de 25 millones de litros de agua contaminada vertida sobre sus territorios y, la remoción de más de 821.955 metros cúbicos de madera nativa, entre ceibas, roble y caracolí.

The community of these two municipalities has vigorously opposed the imminent deterioration of their living conditions and the serious environmental damage that the exploitation of 60,000 tonnes of coal monthly using 3 litres/sec of water will entail. This means more than 93 millions of litres of water yearly at a flow of 0.83 litres/sec. In other words, more than 25 million litres of contaminated water discharged over the land as well as the removal of more than 821, 955 cubic metres of native trees amongst which kapok, oak and cashew can be found.

Photos of the environmental damage caused by mining have circulated on Twitter:

 ecocide in Santander, thousands of fish dead because of Hidrosogamoso

Twitter users have also expressed their disagreement with the mining developments in the region:

Using Your Reflex Camera From Your Cellphone? Lumera!

Yes, now it's possible! Thanks to Lumera, after two years of hard work as a result of a project by Open Hardware, from Hackbo, Bogota's hackerspace. It's all about a small device that gets integrated into your reflex photographic camera, transforming it into a “smart camera”. Using Lumera, you can handle your camera from your cell phone, save your photos in the cloud, share them on social networks or edit, among other possibilities.

Fotografía extraída del sitio web Kickstarter, utilizada con autorización

Photo from the website Kickstarter, used with permission

Sergio Fabara explains how it works:

Lumera cuenta con conectividad Wi-Fi y Bluetooth LE, un display LED, doble puerto USB, batería integrada y varios botones para compartir y transferir archivos de manera rápida y sencilla. El accesorio se ancla a la cámara mediante la entrada de tornillo universal y por el puerto USB se conecta al de la cámara. Y se vinculará con su celular mediante una app que estará disponible para Android y iOS. Con esta app, podrán configurar la antena para conectarla directo a las cuentas de Dropbox y Google Drive, haciendo el respaldo digital mucho más sencillo.

Lumera has Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth LE, a LED display, double USB port, integrated battery and several buttons for quickly and easily file sharing and transfering. The accessory is fixed to the camera through the universal bolt input and through the USB port gets connected to the camera. And it will be linked to your cell phone through an app that will be available for Android and iOS. With this app, you will be able to set up he antenna to connect it directly to your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts, thus making digital backup way much simpler.

LumeraLabs is a Colombian-origin hardware, software and application firm that participates in a campaign by Kickstarter to raise funds to launch Lumera. So far, the project has raised $41,903 out of the $90,000 they have set as a goal. There is still time until December 12 for those photographs or amateurs that want Lumera to reach its goal.

Reasearch, Implementation and Impact, Is What Universities Investigate Useful?

A comment about whether the population values the researches carried out from the universities, triggers member of academic community César Viloria to shed a light about this on his blog.

About research, we have to know it's divided in two branches: basic research and applied research. The former increases or creates knowledge as well as develops and modificies what already exists. On the other hand, applied research focuses in the application and usefulness of these knowledges on the population. We can also find differences about times, the former has long term results and the latter shows medium term results.

You might be thinking now, what about all those formulas with impossible numbers? The blog has also an answer to this question:

Encontramos una gran cantidad de elementos en estos artículos que pueden dificultar la lectura si lo que queremos saber es “de qué trata” pero servirían de gran ayuda si somos investigadores relacionados con el tema y queremos saber el “cómo lo hicieron”. Sin embargo, generalmente en la introducción y las conclusiones de estos textos es posible comprender una idea general del “para qué sirve”.

We find several elements in these items that can make difficult its reading, if we want to know “what is it about”, but they will be very useful if we are researches involved with the topic and what we want to know is “how they did it”. Usually, however, on the introduction and conclusions of these texts, it's possible to understand a general idea of “what is this for”.

For further information, Uninorte has launched a program called Science within reach, to make us feel part of the scientific community.

You can folow César Viloria Núñez on Twitter.

This post was part of the twenty sixth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on October 27, 2014.

Colombia: No to Sex Tourism in Medellín

NoTurismoSexual

“No to sex tourist”. Screenshot from video posted on YouTube.

By mid July 2014, the Facebook page No to sex tourist was created, with the purpose of create awareness about sex tourism in Colombia. Wikipedia lo define como:

… una forma de turismo con el propósito de mantener relaciones sexuales, normalmente de varones con prostitutas hembras, pero también, aunque menos, hay mujeres turistas sexuales y turismo sexual homosexual masculino.

Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity, particularly with prostitutes. The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination”.

Recently, the fan page posted this video, as part of a campaign by Pazamanos Foundation with the intention to reject sex tourists who mainly visit the city of Medellín.

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