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Taran Volckhausen

Medellín, Colombia
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About Taran
Taran Volckhausen is a journalist based in Medellín, Colombia. He is managing editor at English news website Colombia Reports.
English Spanish
Feature Stories Content Writing Corporate Content
Fact Checking

Plan Colombia: 15 years of US aid and its mixed results

04 Feb 2016  |  Colombia News | Colombia Reports
The article discusses the 15-year anniversary of Plan Colombia, a U.S.-financed initiative aimed at combating drug trafficking in Colombia. Despite some successes, such as improved security in certain regions and economic growth, the plan has not achieved its goal of significantly reducing coca cultivation, which has only dropped by 18% from 2000 to 2014. The strategy has also been linked to human rights violations and displacement crises. The U.S. support has shifted from military aid to more institutional and economic assistance, especially after the discovery of carcinogenic effects of aerial fumigation on farmers. The upcoming meeting between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and U.S. President Barack Obama will focus on increasing U.S. aid for infrastructure and social programs. Plan Colombia has been instrumental in weakening FARC and ELN guerrillas and fostering conditions for peace talks.

Origins of a Spy Scandal

17 Jan 2016  |  The Intercept
Colombia's National Police Force is embroiled in a wiretapping scandal involving the surveillance of journalist Vicky Dávila, who was investigating a prostitution ring within the police cadets. Dávila and other journalists claim to have been wiretapped and harassed. The Attorney General's Office, led by Eduardo Montealegre, has shown support for Dávila's allegations and is facing intimidation through death threats. Despite the scandal, President Juan Manuel Santos has not dismissed the national police director, Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, who is implicated in both the wiretapping and a separate sexual harassment allegation. The scandal has historical roots, with Colombia's police force taking over surveillance activities after the dismantling of the DAS intelligence agency in 2011. Repeated incidents of illegal spying have occurred, yet Congress lacks the tools to monitor intelligence-gathering effectively. Dávila's source alleges that the police used legal surveillance as a cover for illegal spying on journalists and officials.

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