New 100,000 peso note
The Central Bank has announced that the first COP$100,000 notes will be in circulation from March 31, with other notes of existing denominations released during April. Former president Carlos Lleras Restrepo is set to appear on the front and reports indicate that Salento’s Cocora Valley may be featured.
Brits abroad – you can vote in referendum on EU participation!
If you are one of the 5.5 million UK citizens living abroad, you are still entitled to vote. You can register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. You will need your National Insurance number (or other information to verify who you are), passport and date of birth.
First cases of Zika linked to birth defects confirmed in Colombia
The first three cases of the Zika virus causing birth defects have been announced. Alfonso Rodriguez-Morales, chair of research group RECOLZIKA, confirmed the diagnoses, revealing that all three cases involved various congenital brain defects, one with microcephaly. The researchers are anticipating that there will be a spike in Zika-linked birth defects in the next two to three months.
Venezuela border opens for five hours
Colombia and Venezuela agreed to open their border crossing for five hours on February 27. The borders were opened at three key points between 1pm and 6pm, and allowed 428 stranded vehicles to return to their own countries. The border has been shut since August 2015, part of ongoing tensions between the two countries.
National strike – March 17
Labour Unions have declared that March 17 is the date of a 24 hour national strike. The unions are protesting primarily against the recent economic decisions of the government, the sale of the state-owned stake in energy provider Isagen, the concerns around the budget overruns at the Reficar refinery and the scheduled tax reforms.
Human rights defenders
In a report designed to look like a movie cover, the NGO Somos Defensores say “reality exceeds fiction”. Their figures, released on March 2, show that while socio-political violence is at its lowest in 50 years, the number of attacks on rights workers has increased. There were 682 individual attacks and 63 murders in 2015, compared with 626 attacks and 55 murders the year before.