A worker was wounded Feb. 17, when presumed Sendero Luminoso guerillas fired on a camp of the Camisea pipeline consortium at the remote jungle settlement of Cigakiato, Echarate district, La Convención province, Cuzco region. (AP, InfoRegión, Feb. 17) In seemingly coordinated attacks three days later, presumed Senderistas opened fire on two military outposts in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). The first attack at Counter-terrorist Base Unión Mantaro, Canaire district, Huanta province, Ayacucho region, apparently claimed no casualties or damage. In the second, at nearby Consorcio Vila Quinua, material damage to the outspot was reported. (La Voz de Huamangam, Feb. 20)
Peru's National Police on Feb. 4 announced the discovery of over 100,000 cannabis plants at the high Andean community of Minasel, 4,000 meters above sea level, on the border of Áncash and Huánuco regions. The plants were burned in the fields, police said, while the growers escaped into the mountains. (RPP, Feb. 4) On Jan. 15, elite troops of the Special Anti-drug Operation Division eradicated 65,000 plants of moño rojo (red bud) at the remote mountain village of San Martín de Porres, Chinchao district, Huánuco. (Peru21, Jan. 15)
Days of street clashes between opponents and supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro have left five dead, with scores injured or detained. The demonstrators, mostly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, chronic shortages, and what they charge is repression of opponents. They are calling for Maduro to resign. The street fighting has mostly been in middle-class areas of Caracas, where it seems we are treated to the unlikely spectacle of well-heeled youth throwing Molotov cocktails at police and blocking streets with burning trash. Authorities even said a funeral procession for revered folk singer Simón Díaz, who died Feb. 19 aged 85, was held up by "violent groups" blocking roads. (Reuters, Feb. 20) Widely blamed for inciting violence is the leader of the right-wing Voluntad Popular party, Leopoldo López. CNN reported that López turned himself in Feb. 19 to face murder charges—which CNN reported the following day had been dropped. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has also been supporting the protests, but is publicly urging nonviolence. The unrest extends beyond Caracas, with the government mobilizing troops to Tachira state following protests there. Maduro has also threatened to expel CNN from the country if it does not "rectify its coverage" of the protests. (BBC News, Feb. 20)
Transcripts of conversations between the highest leaders of the FARC guerillas were revealed by Colombian media Feb. 15 after being intercepted by the Armed Forces. The transcripts reveal dialogues between the FARC’s peace delegation in Havana, Cuba and the guerrilla group’s highest military commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry AKA "Timochenko." Colombia’s military intelligence was able to access the conversations after breaking through their encrypted codes protecting their communication mediums. Colombia's Blu Radio station gained access to the transcripts. A scandal over sying on the peace delegations has forced the dismissal of four top military commanders.
Chile's President Sebstián Piñera filed an official complaint Feb. 12 laying claim to 3.7 hectares (nine acres) of desert on the border with Peru—re-opening the border conflict between the two nations after a January ruling at The Hague had resolved a long-standing dispute on the maritime boundary. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Chile could maintain its sovereignty of fishing waters near the coast but granted Peru control of deeper waters to the southwest. After the ruling, Peru's government released a map designating the contested land triangle as its own—which was immediately rejected by Santiago, citing a 1929 treaty. Piñera's formal assertion of sovereignty over the contested strip follows friction with Peru's President Ollanta Humala at Pacific Alliance summit in Colombia earlier in the week. Following the meeting, Piñera publicly broached withdrawing from the Pact of Bogotá, the regional treaty granting the ICJ jurisdiction in international disputes.
Colombia's National Police announced Jan. 24 the seizure of 1.2 tons of cocaine allegedly belonging to paramilitary group Los Urabeños in the northwestern department of Córdoba. The find came when police searched a truck at a checkpoint that had been established in Montería municipality. The interception was reportedly planned by police intelligence in advance. The two truck occupants who were arrested apparently tried to bribe the officers with $150,000. The agents also confiscated 6,800 gallons of biodiesel and 3,400 gallons of gasoline, worth around $30,000. The cocaine was reportedly en route to the port of Turbo in Urabá region, the Urabeños' heartland in the northern part of Antioquia department, and was intended for export to the US and Europe. The Urabeños are a "neo-paramilitary" group that remained in arms after the ultra-right paramilitary network was officially "demobilized" some 10 years ago. Authorities now consider the Urabeños Colombia's most powerful drug trafficking organization. (Colombia Reports, Jan. 24)
An engineer for the Águila Dorada mining company was on Feb. 11 detained by members of an Awajún indigenous community near the company's concession area in Peru's northern Cajamarca region. The engineer, Jaime Núñez Fernández, is being held on the orders of local apus (traditional leaders) of the Awajún community of Supayacu, San José district, San Ignacio province, on the edge of the Amazon basin. The community says it rejects mineral exploration within its traditional territories, and is demanding a meeting with representatives of the Council of Ministers, Peru's cabinet. San Ignacio municipal authorities are attempting to mediate. (RPP, Feb. 12; Correo, Feb. 11)
Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón announced Feb. 4 that an investigation will be opened into claims of eavesdropping on both government and rebel delegations to ongoing peace talks with the FARC guerilla group. The revelations were published in weekly Semana the day before. Based on 15 months of reports from an unnamed inside source, Semana concluded that a Colombian military intelligence unit funded and coordinated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) monitored the text messages and e-mails of representatives of both the government and the FARC involved in the Havana peace negotiations. Under the code name "Andromeda," the military's Technical Intelligence Battalion, or BITEC 1, operated a "gray chamber" to monitor the intercepted communications underneath a bar and restaurant in Bogotá, according to Semana. Opposition lawmaker Iván Cepeda dismissed the investigation, saying that only Pinzón himself could have ordered the eavesdropping, and that he should resign immediately. (Colombia Reports, Feb. 4)