The Colombia Herald will remain on hiatus

Due to several commitments at my job and new assignments as part of the brand new equinoXio english edition, I’m afraid this blog will continue on hiatus by now. Next week I’ll return to Global Voices, with a post on the reactions after 4 February’s march against FARC. Thank you.

The biggest hail storm ever recorded in Bogotá

Trying to rescue people trapped in cars

Photo by edahurtado/Flickr

Hail in Bogotá
Photo by lilianazombie/Flickr

On Saturday, a lot of rain and hail fell all over Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city. According to IDEAM, Colombia’s meteorological institute, the blame goes to La Niña, which will cause even more rain until January 2008. Most of the city became white around 3 p.m. Downtown, the water level, which reached 1.5 metres, trapped 20 cars; 100 people had to be rescued.

The first day of Rock al Parque festival, which began yesterday, had to be cancelled due to the heavy rain. There were no casualties, but some people were treated of hypothermia, since almost no one was wearing warm clothes, despite the fact that the rainy season started a month ago. Others where wounded by the ice balls. On Sunday, rescue and firemen teams were still taking ice out from building basements.
Rock al parque festival

Photo by asdrubalcolombia/Flickr

Despite its tropical location, there are hailstorms somewhat often in Bogotá. Nevertheless, yesterday’s was the hugest I’ve ever seen… on TV. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I was at home, northwest Bogotá, and though there was a heavy rain, we didn’t have more hail than usual here… which was one of the few parts of the city which didn’t turn white.

There are a lot of pictures of this event, from Italian newspaper La Repubblica to a lot of “Flickrs” and YouTubers. Some bloggers, like Gabriel Muelle, have referred to this event, maybe thinking this was the so-called “hecatomb” (translated as ‘catastrophe’ in some media outlets but with several puns possible in Spanish language) which would make president Álvaro Uribe seek a third term in office. Is this a “punishment from the Gods”?

In Colombia, even dogs are kidnapped (and freed) [video]

Colombia is the world’s kidnapping capital. Right now, more than 3,000 remain in captivity, most of them by FARC guerrillas. The so-called “humanitarian swap”, which is being pushed by senator Piedad Córdoba (Colombian Liberal Party) with Hugo Chávez, would only free around 50 people, including former presidential candidate and French citizen Íngrid Betancourt and three American hostages.

Meanwhile, kidnapping, while rejected for most Colombians as a huge demonstration in July (after the murder of 11 local lawmakers) shows, has reached another “creative” possibilities. On Friday, Colombian police found Aldo de Fescol, a dog who was kidnapped one month earlier, owned by an old, rich lady whose name was not disclosed. According to Reuters:

A kidnapped Colombian dog held for $350,000 (170,600 pound) ransom was recovered on Friday after his abductors dropped him off at a veterinarian’s office, saying he needed a bath.

When no one came to pick up the German shepherd after it was washed, the office called police who said they identified the canine as Aldo de Fescol, snatched last month from his home in a rich Bogota neighbourhood while his owners were away.

No ransom was paid, police said.

Aldo was in healthy condition but two of his kidnappers were wounded in a Tuesday shootout with police who ambushed them at a fake meeting staged to pay the extortion money.