Things That Matter

Cartels In Colombia Are Killing Residents Who Don’t Obey Their Covid-19 Lockdown Orders

Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide-ranging measures meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus within the country. They banned all international travel – even of its own citizens – and instituted nation-wide curfews that limit the times and amount of people that can go into markets, pharmacies and other essential services.

However, like many places, not all people have adhered to the restrictions and Colombia is seeing a surge in cases. In places where the government has failed to protect its citizens, local cartels are now stepping onto the scene and enforcing their own much more severe rules and lockdown orders. For those who don’t respect the new rules, they risk severe consequences – including death – at the hands of cartel members.

Colombian cartels are executing those who break their Coronavirus lockdown rules.

Across Colombia, heavily armed cartels have introduced their own Coronavirus lockdown measures and “justice” system for those who break quarantine orders. To date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW). José Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director, said the shocking developments are down to the failure to keep control over swathes of Colombia after decades of in-fighting.

“In communities across Colombia, armed groups have violently enforced their own measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “This abusive social control reflects the government’s long-standing failure to establish a meaningful state presence in remote areas of the country, including to protect at-risk populations.”

Left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were among those said to be responsible.

“They have shut down transport between villages, and when someone is suspected to have Covid-19 they are told to leave the region or they will be killed,” one community leader in Colombia’s southern Putumayo province told the Guardian, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “And people have no choice but to obey because they never see the government here.”

The cartels curfew orders are even more strict than those imposed by the actual local governments.

Credit: Juan Barreto / Getty Images

At the very start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Colombia’s government was quick to institute wide ranging lockdown measures. Since March, the entire country has been under lockdown, which includes curfew hours with allowances for people to leave their houses for necessities and in a medical emergency. But the cartels have reportedly implemented more stringent and sometimes lethal measures across 11 of the country’s 32 states.

HRW’s report tells how in the port city of Tumaco – where local residents are banned by gangs from fishing – cartels are limiting their ability to earn money and food. They have also imposed a 5pm curfew on citizens – far stricter than that imposed by the state. 

In the provinces of Cauca and Guaviare armed groups torched motorcycles belonging to those who they claimed ignored their lockdown measures.

Cartels distributed pamphlets about the restrictions, warning that they are ‘forced to kill people in order to preserve lives.

Credit: Luis Robayo / Getty Images

The cartels are informing residents of the lockdown orders and that armed fighters would kill anyone who disobeyed them. Cartel groups handed out pamphlets and communicated with communities through WhatsApp to establish curfews, lockdowns and restrictions on movement for people, cars, and boats, according to the report from HRW.

COVID-19 instructions also included limits on opening days and hours for shops as well as bans on access to communities for foreigners and people from other communities.

One pamphlet by the National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters in Bolívar, in northern Colombia, from early April said they were “forced to kill people in order to preserve lives” because the population had not “respected the orders to prevent Covid-19.”

The pamphlet said “only people working in food stores, bakeries, and pharmacies can work,” and only until certain hours of the day, saying others should stay “inside their houses.”

The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across Colombia and elsewhere in South America.

Like much of South America, Colombia is bracing for the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed on March 6, medical authorities have confirmed 159,898 cases, with 5,625 deaths. Cases regularly climb by over 5,000 a day.

Meanwhile, nearby countries in the region – including Ecuador and Brazil – are the region’s epicenter for the pandemic. It’s only a question of time until the worst of the outbreak arrives in Colombia.

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As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

Things That Matter

As The U.S. Expands Vaccine Eligibility Here’s What You Need To Know

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Starting today, everyone 16 and older can get in line for the Coronavirus vaccine. This is a huge milestone that has been months in the making after a very ambitious plan by the Biden administration.

But with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still on pause, many have been wondering what the vaccine program will look like – especially since nearly everyone is now eligible to receive a shot in the arm.

As of Monday, anyone 16 and over is technically eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

On Monday, every state in the U.S. expanded its vaccine eligibility to include all adults over the age of 16, meeting President Biden’s deadline which he established two weeks ago.

The country is now administering 3.2 million doses a day on average, and half of all adults have now received at least one dose. Additionally, 84.3 million people have now been fully vaccinated against the disease. These are truly encouraging figures in the fight against the pandemic but a lot of uncertainty remains.

Ok but can I get a shot?

Technically, yes, anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the vaccine but your access to it really varies from state to state.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., were the last to open up eligibility on Monday, after other states expanded access to the general public over the past month.

If the country’s present vaccination rate continues, 70% of the total U.S. population could be vaccinated by June 17 and 90% by July 25, the New York Times has projected. That timeline will likely depend on what happens with Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, however, as distribution is now paused following reports of blood clots, despite being statistically extremely rare.

So, what’s going on with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

On Sunday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that he believed the pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will likely be lifted on Friday. During interviews on talk shows, Fauci stated that he expected federal health officials to decide on the vaccine’s future by the end of the week and that he did not anticipate the vaccine being permanently banned.

One alternative to banning is to limit who is able to receive the one dose shot, perhaps limiting it to males over the age of 50. This is how Europe adjusted its strategy following similar blood clotting issues with the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which was created using similar methods.

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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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