March 3, 2006
Emerald Magnate Shot
Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that unknown assailants shot the emerald magnate Yesid Nieto a few days ago. The news was only made public March 2. Though Nieto reportedly survived the attack at his Bogota apartment, he is said to remain in a coma. Sources close to Nieto indicate his prognosis remains guarded.
Nieto, one of several major mine owners in the remote, emerald-rich region of Boyaca, Colombia, rose to prominence following his astute management of the successful La Pita emerald mines, of which he is part-owner. Nieto has also been credited for ushering in a new era of openness in the notoriously sealed emerald business and for reigniting confidence in Colombian emeralds among global buyers. (For more information about Yesid Nieto's mark on the Colombian emerald business, please read "The Emerald Architect" in Professional Jeweler, January 2006).
El Tiempo reports that Nieto is a spokesman for seven powerful clans that control 80% of Colombia's emerald exports and suggests the shooting could destabilize power and control of the region among rival clans. In the 1990s, a war between clans claimed the lives of thousands in the region. Nieto had recently offered to help Colombian government authorities eradicate several coca plantations in the region, which some Colombians speculate was tied to the attempt on his life.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.