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Dozens of young people killed in Colombia, perpetrators unknown | News



Alvaro Caicedo recalled finding his 15-year-old son’s body on August 12, tortured and lying beside four other lifeless Afro-Colombian teenagers.

His son, Jose, was killed in the impoverished Llano Verde neighbourhood in the western Colombian city of Cali.

Caicedo found the teenagers’ bodies.

“When the children didn’t come home, I was the first parent to go out looking. We went to the police station, then we walked all around, to places we knew he usually went,” Caicedo told Al Jazeera. “When I heard he was with a group of other children, I felt more relaxed. But, we found all of them, they’d been tortured, cruelly murdered, it was horrible.”

This example is just one of a spate of killings that has swept through some of Colombia’s rural regions during recent weeks which have targeted mostly young people and shocked communities.

More than 35 have been killed in just 12 days.

“We need to know who killed them and who is guilty. That’s what we want… that there’s no impunity,” Caicedo said. “We’ve been waiting for many days now and we have had no answers whatsoever.”

‘There’s a lot of fear’

Erlendy Cuero of AFRODES, an association of displaced Afro-Colombians, told Al Jazeera people in Llano Verde are now worried and living in fear.

“People who have children are scared that the same thing that happened to those five could happen to theirs,” she said. “There’s a lot of fear because this massacre made people realise that these groups don’t really care who they’re killing, even if it’s children.”

There were three separate killings in one day on Friday last week, with a total of 17 deaths in the Arauca, Cauca and Narino provinces.

In Narino, eight young people were killed in a separate attack on August 16 when an armed group entered a house and shot them.

Some citizens look at the coffins placed in the street as a symbolic act of rejection of the recent massacres in Colombia [Luis Eduardo Noriega A/EPA]

Local media reported on Monday that three young people were killed by armed groups in the town of Venicia in the Antioquia province.

None of the perpetrators in any of these incidents has been identified.

President Ivan Duque has come under increased pressure and scrutiny to take more action and travelled to the most affected province of Narino, near the Ecuadorian border, on Saturday to hold a security council on the situation.

His visit was met with booing from locals where he visited victims’ families.

The governor of the troubled province requested increased security due to the spate of killings, which are happening at the height of Colombia’s coronavirus pandemic.

Paying the highest price

The Andes director for the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) told Al Jazeera the president’s response has been “disappointing”.

“These are not merely collective homicides due to organised crime and terror. Rather, they are occurring because Duque’s government is not implementing the peace accord and addressing the structural issues that lead to violence,” she said. “The rural, poor, ethnic groups and youth are paying the highest price.”

The Americas director of Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco, has also condemned the spate of attacks, saying “the situation is deteriorating.”  

Oscar Palma, a professor at Rosario University and expert in security issues in Colombia, said these types of killings “are nothing new” and have been used by armed groups for many years to increase territory for cocaine production and drug trafficking in the Andean nation.

“Territorial control is everything. It means controlling [drug trafficking] routes, imposing your own rules on the population,” Palma said, adding that local residents who oppose the groups’ presence can find themselves forcibly recruited to work for them, or be killed.

The researcher said many of the actors believed to be involved, like the left-wing National Liberation Army group (ELN), Clan de Golfo, one of the most powerful drug cartels in the country and dissident fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) clash as they vie for control over territory, highlighting the difficulty the government faces in controlling the violence.

“The state has tried different strategies to reach the communities and fight these criminal groups, but it’s very difficult because there is a significant lack of state institutions in these regions… it’s very difficult to try and destroy these big and small groups,” he said.

‘Those who killed my son need to pay’

For Sergio Guzman, political analyst and director of Colombia Risk Analysis, the most shocking thing is “how quickly the situation on the ground has eroded”.

“When Duque took office there was an encroachment of criminal armed groups that seemed to have gone unabated, taking over significant areas and they’re now in a much more emboldened position, where they are not only exerting territorial control, but now, actually going off and committing these gruesome crimes,” Guzman said.

“President Duque is trying to contain the damage by labelling them as communal homicides, but changing the rhetoric about this is not going to change the truth on the ground, which is that the government is losing ground against criminal groups who are gaining territorial control – that’s what’s most concerning,” he added.

But for parents like Caicedo, now mourning the death of his son, all they can do is wait to see if justice will prevail in a country with infamously high impunity rates.

“There are still a lot of innocent children in this neighbourhood, and we need justice for them. Murderers continue to walk among us, and this is what fills us with fear,” Caicedo said. “Those who killed my son,” he pauses and takes a deep breath, “need to pay for it”.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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