Colombia seeks $1 billion Ecopetrol dividend, amid massive civil unrest

Colombia is seeking an additional payout of almost $1 billion from its oil company Ecopetrol S.A. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in the Colombian capital on last Saturday. Colombia’s economy grew at its fastest pace in four years as migration from Venezuela. Luz Polo was at a campaign event when she said a man sent by criminal groups broke down the doors. It faces increased spending pressure amid massive anti-government demonstrations. Nine bullet holes dot the front door and window of Jhon Jairo Vasquez’s home in the northern town of Caucasia. Popular and influential former President Alvaro Uribe has testified before Colombia’s Supreme Court in a case involving alleged witness tampering.

FARC fighters who laid down their weapons in Colombia say they remain committed to peace. Ivan Marquez, a formerly high-ranking commander of the FARC rebel group. Around 25,000 children recently born in Colombia are not yet citizens of the South American nation. The finance ministry called a meeting of shareholders to discuss its proposal for the company to distribute 3.7 trillion pesos ($1.1 billion) in a special dividend. The protests began on last Thursday when more than 200,000 people took part in what they called a national strike. After receiving death threats two weeks prior for campaigning on a platform to help Venezuelan migrants in her city. Since the Colombian state owns 88.5% of the company, it can win any vote, and its share of the payment would total about $920 million.

Reyes says “What the government has offered protesters has a fiscal cost”.

It was the day after the 53-year-old local incumbent councillor held a campaign rally. In a video released online on Wednesday, Marquez, whose real name is Luciano Arango, stood surrounded by several male. The teen was saved after neighbours who saw the man breaking in called the police. The commanders accuse the government of betraying the deal. A short statement on the FARC’s website accompanied the announcement. The young people are caught in legal limbo when neither one of their parents is a Colombian national. President Ivan Duque this week pledged tax breaks for the poorest fifth of the population as part of a tax bill that is currently being discussed by lawmakers. Majority of the protesters continue to demonstrate peacefully.

But after receiving rounds of death threats and the attack, it even crisis-stricken Venezuela was better than Colombia. The reform, which would replace a law overturned by a high court in Oct. Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from Icononzo. There has been no comment from FARC politicians or the Colombian government. It needs to be approved by year-end in order for changes including corporate tax cuts to remain in place. Marquez was one of 10 former FARC commanders who took up positions in Colombia’s congress. At the same time, the government is trying to curb borrowing to hit its fiscal targets. The group became a legal political party under a landmark 2016 peace deal.

It defend the nation’s investment grade credit rating. Observers say across Colombia female candidates like Polo face even greater challenges than their male counterparts. The nation is on track to meet a fiscal target of 2.4% of gross domestic product this year. South of the capital Bogota where conditions are poor for those struggling to reintegrate. The deal ended the half-a-century-long conflict between the rebel group. President Ivan Duque announced earlier this month that these stateless children will be allowed to apply for Colombian citizenship. Colombian government killed more than 220,000 people and displaced nearly seven million others. It become depressed, but trying to keep going.

Gross domestic product expanded 3.3% in the three months through September. Threats and intimidation have become common in this town and region. The private hearing on last Tuesday was the first time a former president has been called to testify before the country’s highest court. The next year is an open question, according to Alejandro Reyes, senior economist at BBVA’s Colombia unit. It hurts many children of Venezuelan fathers and mothers have been born in our country. In July 2018, Marquez said he would not take his seat in protest against the arrest of former commander Jesus Santrich. Venezuela’s embattled government has simply stopped providing consular service.

Carolina Mosquera Vera, a researcher at the women’s rights group Sisma Mujer, agreed. The whereabouts of Santrich and Marquez remain unknown. Some diplomatic posts – such as the mission in Colombia – have no operational support from Caracas. If the tax bill doesn’t pass or the government can’t sell state assets, it won’t find itself against the wall. It marked the latest instalment in a long-running feud between the right-wing Uribe and leftist Senator Ivan Cepeda. Last week, Interpol issued a red notice for Santrich, who the United States wants to be extradited. The situation has spiralled nationwide since campaigning began on June 27. It was exactly in line with forecasts from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The cash for the dividend will come from Ecopetrol’s occasional reserve, and won’t affect its financial sustainability. A lack of paper to print passports and other documents further complicates matters at public offices within Venezuela. Colombia has held out against the emerging market trend for interest rate cuts as its economy outpaces peers this year. Ecopetrol shares jumped 1.4% to 3,265 pesos in Bogota trading, their highest level since April. Marquez himself is accused by the US of involvement in drug trafficking. Venezuelan nonprofit organisation CECODAP runs community learning centres. A magistrate queried Uribe behind closed doors for over seven hours about accusations. All the other major inflation-targeting central banks in Latin America have cut interest rates in recent months.

The payout would be equivalent to 89 pesos per share, the company said. The International Monetary Fund forecasts Colombia will grow 3.4% in 2019. The women push back against traditional patriarchal values that are so entrenched in Colombian society. It is a stark contrast from last year’s relatively peaceful presidential election. Ecopetrol has the financial capacity to make the payment given its strong balance sheet and cash flows. Three protesters have died in the unrest so far, while a car bomb in the western region of Cauca killed at least three police. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) Tribunal was set up to investigate FARC members. Citigroup said in a report that while they welcome the extraordinary dividend proposal, given Ecopetrol’s recent acquisitions in the U.S.

Some former rebels, including Marquez, accuse the government of using drugs charges. It estimates that 250,000 children born in Venezuela do not have sufficient identity documents. This year’s poll is also the first of its kind at the local level since the signing of the landmark. Brazil and Colombia might be near its leverage target. In Bogota thousands of security forces have been deployed. After the questioning, the court released a brief statement. The social justice group also says that more than 32,000 children born in Caracas last year did not get their certificates. Despite a 2011 quota system that mandates women must make up 30 percent of every electoral list. The finance ministry said it will use the funds for investment.

“These funds from Ecopetrol are an insurance for what may happen next year”, Reyes said.

The growing violence combined with overnight curfews in Cali and Bogota. President Ivan Duque and a current senator could serve time in prison if eventually convicted in the case. It means they cannot obtain a passport or other means of establishing their citizenship. The payment wouldn’t be an advance on the regular 2020 dividend. Colombia has received about 1.5 million migrants from Venezuela in the last few years. It was a femicide, but it was also a political femicide. Around 117,000 people are running for provincial governorships, mayorships. It has repeatedly declared his innocence and questioned the court’s independence. Further complicating matters is both the lack of resources at consulates and the rampant confusion.

Javier Diaz was among a group of peaceful protesters gathered in Bogota’s National Park on last Saturday. It may help explain why Colombia has the unusual combination of strong growth and a weak labor market. Vasquez showed Al Jazeera threatening messages he received from criminal groups in the area. Uribe’s appearance drew both protesters and supporters to the hearing in central Bogota. Venezuelan migrants gave birth to almost 25,000 children in Colombia. A local congressman in Cauca used vulgar language to describe Rosalbina Valdes. Uribe accused Cepeda of orchestrating a plot to tie him to right-wing paramilitary groups. For most, the only identification they have is a Colombian birth certificate. The payout would be scheduled for Dec. 23 for minority shareholders and Dec. 26 for the government.

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