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CrisisWatch Database

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489 results found
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Ecuador

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Attorney General Galo Chiriboga 9 July highlighted ongoing security crisis in northern provinces bordering Colombia during meeting with security agencies, reported homicide rates far exceeding national average in San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas province, and Putumayo, Sucumbíos province.

Colombia

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt and FARC 17 July reached agreement on mechanisms for victims’ participation in transitional justice discussions; Cuba-based peace talks will resume 12 Aug, with first victims’ delegation expected in Havana 16 Aug. Three regional forums held 4-18 July prepared inputs amid heated debate over the alleged underrepresentation of FARC victims. National Liberation Army (ELN) 4 July celebrated 50th anniversary with string of attacks and three-day “armed strike” in north-eastern stronghold regions. President Santos 29 July warned intensifying guerrilla offensive could lead to rupture of talks; Southern Putumayo department particularly hit, with repeated FARC attacks on oil and transport trucks causing significant environmental damage. Police 20 July detained leader of FARC’s 30th Front in Cauca Valley. Dissident group of demobilised EPL guerrillas asked in 25 July open letter to join current peace process. Jailed AUC leader “Macaco” 25 July called for revision of transitional justice rules amid growing concerns over approaching liberations of paramilitaries having served 8-year maximum prison sentences ordered under special legislation. President Santos 20 July inaugurated newly elected Congress likely to play crucial role in implementing future peace agreements.

Venezuela

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Opposition leader Ramon Aveledo resigned 29 July as opposition alliance remained divided over how to oppose President Maduro’s regime: more radical wing continued to push for constitutional assembly; moderates led by Henrique Capriles advocate focus on building electoral support. Ruling United Socialist Pary of Venezuela (PSUV) also divided: Rafael Ramírez, energy minister and chairman of state oil corporation, increasingly influential following June sacking of planning minister and radical leftist Jorge Giordani. Party congress held late July elected Maduro as party leader; calls from dissidents to debate internal democracy, corruption accusations brushed aside. Military gaining influence: keynote speech at 5 July independence day ceremony in parliament given for first time by military general, Vladimir Padrino López, who declared the military to be “chavista”, or supportive of left-wing political ideology of former president Chávez. U.S. 30 July announced travel ban on 24 high-ranking Venezuelan officials including cabinet ministers citing human rights abuses during crackdown on opposition protests. Former intelligence chief Gen Hugo Carvajal arrested 23 July in Aruba on U.S. drugs charges, freed following Venezuelan pressure.

Colombia

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

President Santos secured re-election in 15 June presidential runoff, beating Uribist-Democratic Centre candidate Óscar Zuluaga in narrow 51%-45% victory; polls relatively peaceful, reflecting FARC’s 7 June ceasefire declaration. Results seen as boost for peace process. Govt 10 June confirmed exploratory talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) underway since Jan; also confirmed agreements for future agenda on transitional justice and participation of society. FARC, govt 7 June presented landmark “Declaration of Principles” to guide discussions on transitional justice (5th point on Havana agenda); amid highly polarised political debate, key message was pledge that parties would not mutually grant themselves impunity. Parties also recognised victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition will not be up for negotiation, but talks will focus upon how best to satisfy them. In exchange for ruling out impunity, govt gave in to longstanding FARC demands to set up exploratory commission to look into historical narrative of conflict. Both sides agreed to receive delegation of victims of armed conflict in Havana.

Venezuela

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Dialogue between govt and opposition Democratic Unity (MUD), which began early March and was suspended by opposition in May, failed to restart. Govt rebuffed demands for release of Iván Simonovis, arrested in 2004 and sentenced in 2009 for alleged complicity in attempted coup against former President Chávez, and other political prisoners. Preliminary agreements reached on formation of broad-based truth commission and renewal of Supreme Court (TSJ), electoral authority (CNE) and other nominally autonomous powers, so far failed to bear fruit. MUD’s more radical wing proposed constituent assembly as way forward; student movement yet to take a decision on matter. Street protests which began mid-Feb significantly diminished, but economic crisis continues to affect govt’s popularity: one leaked poll, which concluded mid-May, gave Maduro less than 35% support. Dismissal of long-serving planning Minister Jorge Giordani 18 June and replacement with economist Ricardo Menendez provoked left-wing backlash which threatens regime unity as ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) prepares for 3rd congress in late July.

Ecuador

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

On 24 May President Correa announced that he was backing a constitutional amendment which would allow him and other state representatives to run for re-election indefinitely.

Colombia

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Govt, FARC representatives 16 May reached preliminary agreement on drug policies, 3rd issue under discussion in Havana peace talks; parties agreed, inter alia, on national crop substation program and demining initiative; first time FARC has implicitly recognised wider links to drug-economy. Agreement followed 16 May historic announcement of joint FARC/ELN unilateral ceasefire 20-28 May. Óscar Iván Zuluaga, peace talks sceptic, won first round of presidential elections 25 May; faces incumbent President Santos in 15 June run-off. Turnout historically low at 40%. Video released 17 May showed Zuluaga apparently discussing ways to use classified military intelligence to undermine peace process; followed 6 May arrest of Zuluaga campaign aide for allegedly spying on Santos and FARC negotiator email accounts. Santos’ chief campaign manager resigned 5 May, accused of having received $12mn from notorious drug trafficker. Ombudsman’s Office 12 May said some 2,500 indigenous people from High Baudó region (Chocó) displaced by fighting between ELN and NIAG Urabeños. Police 30 May arrested 46 NIAG Rastrojos members in Barranquilla, Atlantico dept. Govt 8 May created national platform to discuss peasant demands established during March meeting of “Agrarian Summit”, end new wave of social protests; FARC 13 May praised grassroots organisations for achieving “formidable triumph".

Venezuela

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Tensions remained high: opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance coordinator 13 May said talks with govt "in crisis"; President Maduro 14 May said he had no intention of abandoning talks, hoped MUD would reciprocate. Regional FMs acting as negotiation facilitators visited, held meetings with both sides 18 May in bid to break deadlock but no progress made. Intensity of student-led protests continued to decline, but no easing of repression on part of security forces: 4 “peace camps” set up by protesters in different parts of Caracas violently dismantled 8 May.

Venezuela

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Govt 10 April began dialogue with delegation from opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance to find solution to political and economic crisis, with session broadcast live; few concrete results. Subsequent closed-door session brought agreement to broaden govt’s parliamentary “truth commission” to include range of respected figures. Student movement and radical “la salida” wing of MUD yet to agree to talks; demands include release of political prisoners, including those arrested during protests, and end to “repression of peaceful demonstrations”. Clashes in major cities continued, though generally diminished in intensity late month, alongside presence of armed pro-govt colectivos and casualty rate. Talks continued behind closed doors. Following 25 March announcement that 3 air force generals arrested for coup-plotting, pro-govt newspaper 14 April alleged 30 more detainees, including at least one opposition leader, accused of involvement in “destabilisation effort”. 18 students and protesters arrested 26 April after massive rally in Caracas and other cities. Human rights NGO lawyer also detained on conspiracy charges.

Bolivia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Clashes erupted late March-early April between govt and mining cooperatives over modifications to mining bill; at least 2 dead, scores more injured. About 1,000 soldiers went on strike 22-25 April demanding promotion opportunities; govt later dismissed 715 of them.

Colombia

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

New round of peace negotiations between govt and FARC started 24 April amid increasing expectations of decisive progress on illegal drugs, 3rd substantial issue under consideration. FARC rallied behind process when Rodrigo Granda, member of FARC negotiating team, 6 April told press that “never before now have existed real conditions” for successful peace process. President Santos 10 April said he would “think twice” before ordering killing of FARC leader Timochenko, causing uproar in Uribista opposition circles who accuse Santos of being weak with guerrillas. Alleged ELN kidnapping victim found dead 20 April in Saravena (Arauca). News network Noticias Uno 13 April revealed that leaders of New Illegal Armed Group (NIAG) Urabeños and organised crime group Envigado Office reportedly willing to engage in negotiations with govt; Justice Minister Alfonso Gómez Méndez 13 April responded that only a “surrender” to justice could be acceptable. Upon judicial order, Santos 23 April reinstated Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro, removed from office in March over alleged mismanagement. New agrarian “strike” started 28 April, seen as likely to have less impact than 2013 protests; Interior Minister Aurelio Iragorri 28 April claimed protests in some regions infiltrated by FARC.

Venezuela

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Despite announcement by President Maduro and other leading govt members that protest movement launched early Feb (which they term a “coup”) has been defeated, protests continued: most barricades rebuilt, no sign of protesters’ determination wavering. Continued clashes between protesters and pro-govt forces; since protest movement began 39 people have been killed and 2,041 placed in detention facilities, half still with probationary measures. Security forces deployed 17 March on Plaza Altamira in Caracas, but rapidly outnumbered by peaceful civilian protesters from surrounding neighbourhoods. Govt’s “peace conference” and truth commission set up in Feb failed to incorporate radicals or moderates from opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance. FMs from Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) visited Caracas 25-27 March, met with opposition groups as well as govt. Immediately after UNASUR’s 12 March decision to send mission, Maduro announced he would take “drastic measures” to end protests; announcement followed by deployment of National Guard in Caracas, arrest of mayors of San Cristobal (Táchira) and San Diego (Valencia), stripping of parliamentary immunity for MUD legislator Maria Corina Machado with view to prosecuting her for murder of political violence victims, and arrest of 3 air force generals for alleged coup plot. Vatican 28 March announced it is willing to facilitate peaceful resolution of crisis; Maduro said govt would accept its mediation.

Colombia

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Congressional elections took place 9 March amid high abstention rate, allegations of fraud and election of 69 candidates allegedly linked to illegal armed actors, but relatively few security incidents overall. Polls brought no radical change in balance of political forces; preliminary results showed President Santos’ ruling coalition lost clout but still boasts strong majority in Lower House (92/166 votes) and remains well positioned in Senate (47/102 votes); opposition Democratic Centre led by former President Uribe came 2nd in Senate (19 votes). Santos 19 March signed decree removing Bogotá mayor and former M-19 guerrilla Gustavo Petro from office, executing highly controversial decision of Inspector General; move came day after Inter American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) asked govt to suspend dismissal; govt argued IACHR measures non-binding. 22nd cycle of peace talks between govt and FARC ended 30 March; parties optimistic to conclude discussions on illegal drugs “soon”. FARC 21 March acknowledged responsibility for earlier killing of 2 policemen in Tumaco (Nariño), but 26 March refused to hand over perpetrators. National Liberation Army (ELN) 6 March liberated in Antioquia police official kidnapped in Feb; 17 March reiterated its willingness to engage in new talks. Santos 26 March said peace process had sufficiently matured to re-activate National Peace Council. Social movements participating in “National Agrarian Summit” 16 March threatened new strike for early May. Santos 6 March announced major security force intervention in Buenaventura (Valle) to combat escalating criminal violence.

Venezuela

  |  1 Mar 2014

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Month saw biggest anti-govt demonstrations in years as students took to streets across country; over dozen killed in clashes with security forces, scores injured; hundreds arrested, most subsequently released. Over 500 complaints of abuses by security services according to rights groups. Events threatening to further erode stability, human rights in already polarised nation. Demonstrations protesting violent crime, economic crisis began in San Cristobal city in SW state Táchira 2 Feb. Students backed by “La salida” movement, comprising wing of opposition alliance Democratic Unity (MUD), 12 Feb staged march to HQ of chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz to demand release of those jailed and protest food shortages, inflation, crime. Violence broke out between small group of demonstrators and armed civilian supporters of govt; 2 people died in initial clashes and third later, all shot in head. Over 300 reportedly detained over following week, 2 more killed; detainees reported beatings, torture, death threats, other abuses. Govt 16 Feb issued arrest warrant for Voluntad Popular (VP) party founder Leopoldo López accusing him of instigating violence, claimed opposition seeking violent overthrow of President Maduro. López 18 Feb turned himself in; called for protesters to stay in streets but remain non-violent; taken to military prison to await trial. As protests continued govt sent in riot squads accompanied by civilian gunmen; forces attacked protesters, destroyed and stole property. Govt 20 Feb sent troops to Táchira, threatened to declare state of emergency there. 3 U.S. diplomats given 48 hours to leave country 17 Feb for alleged involvement in supposed conspiracy. Govt 27 Feb issued arrest warrant for second opposition leader Carlos Vecchio, also from VP party. 

Colombia

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

20th cycle of negotiations ended 13 Feb with parties claiming they “worked non-stop” on construction of agreement on illicit drug problem. Weekly news magazine Semana 3 Feb revealed military intelligence running covert operations under code-name “Andrómeda” against number of targets including govt’s chief negotiator in Havana and High Commissioner for Peace. Defence minister next day dismissed army’s chief of intelligence and head of technical intelligence. Semana 16 Feb published details of alleged corruption network within army; evidence from taped conversations also seemed to confirm that corrupt or diverted monies benefited some officers sentenced for involvement in extrajudicial executions. President Santos 18 Feb fired head of armed forces Gen Leonardo Barrero, recorded advising to “organise mafia” in effort to put pressure on prosecutors and stop human rights investigations. Presidential candidate of left-wing Patriotic Union Aída Avella suffered attack 23 Feb in Tame (Arauca); After initial denial, ELN took responsibility, apologised. 25 Feb bomb attack in Quibdó (Chocó), carried out by unknown perpetrators, left 4 dead, 10 injured. Santos 24 Feb named former Interior Minister Germán Vargas Lleras as running mate for May electoral contest. “We are Defenders” coalition annual report noted increase in killings of human rights defenders to 78 in 2013.

Colombia

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

19th round of peace talks between govt and FARC ended 23 Jan; negotiations to restart 3 Feb; FARC 14 Jan published detailed proposal for state-funded “National Programme to Substitute Illicit Uses of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana Crops”, drawing on ideas already formulated during ill-fated 2002 Caguán talks, including suspension of aerial fumigation, community-driven alternative development plans, creation of legal market for coca, poppy and marijuana crops. Month-long unilateral FARC ceasefire ended 15 Jan; violations occurred, but generally well-respected. 1 killed, over 60 injured in FARC motorcycle bomb attack in Pradera (Valle) 16 Jan; unusually strongly-worded Secretariat communiqué 23 Jan acknowledged attack, expressed “rejection and disapproval” for high civilian impact. Military reacted with offensive killing 27 FARC fighters and capturing 21 19-22 Jan. Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordóñez 13 Jan rejected appeal against Dec decision to remove Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro from office; several Bogotá court decisions subsequently suspended removal, offering lifeline for Petro to stay in office until 2 March recall referendum. According to list published 18 Jan by left-wing movement Patriotic March, 29 members killed between April 2012-Jan 2014; 3 members allegedly forcefully disappeared. Conservative Party thrown into turmoil over 26 Jan convention decision to elect former defence minister Marta Lucía Ramírez as candidate for May presidential poll.

Venezuela

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

High-profile murder of former Miss Venezuela Mónica Spears and ex-partner 6 Jan forced politicians to intensify efforts toward solving country’s chronic insecurity crisis: President Maduro 8 Jan met with opposition governors of Miranda and Lara states Henrique Capriles and Henri Falcón and other state governors and mayors of 79 most crime-affected municipalities to work on “national pacification law”, to be finalised within month. Maduro 9 Jan announced changes to political and military leadership: 7 ministers, including industry, labour and education, replaced, General Gregorio Bernal Martínez appointed new head of Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin). Maduro also named retired military Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta and Ronald Blanco La Cruz as new director of National Police and head of National Security University (UNES) respectively, raising concerns over long-term fate of civilian police reform underway since 2009.

Venezuela

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

8 Dec municipal elections saw opposition MUD alliance make important advances, especially in big cities; MUD held metropolitan Caracas and Maracaibo and won Valencia and Barquisimeto, now controls 9 of 23 state capitals, plus greater Caracas including 4 of 5 Caracas municipalities. But controversial bid to turn election into plebiscite on President Maduro’s govt via national vote total backfired: ruling PSUV obtained almost 49% of votes, MUD less than 41%. MUD leadership insisting country split and govt lacks mandate for radical political and economic programs, also pointed to unfair election conditions and Maduro’s Nov move to force down retail prices.

Colombia

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Peace talks between govt and FARC continued with discussions centred on illegal drugs; FARC 3 Dec presented 10 “minimal proposals” for counter drug policy, calling for immediate halt of areal fumigation, adoption of public health focus and stimulation of traditional, medical and industrial uses of coca leaf, marihuana and poppy. Talks concluded for year 20 Dec, set to resume 13 Jan. FARC 8 Dec announced unilateral 30-day ceasefire effective 15 Dec-15 Jan; 4 alleged violations occurred by 23 Dec. President Santos declared military offensive against guerrillas “will continue” following 7 Dec attack on police station in Inzá (Cauca) which left 9 dead, 40 injured. Prosecutor General 9 Dec dismissed Bogotá mayor and former M19 guerrilla member Gustavo Petro over allegations of “incompetence” and violating free enterprise principles in 2012 row with private garbage collectors; Petro also banned from holding public office for 15 years. FARC 10 Dec slammed decision as “heavy blow” for peace process. Talks with ELN again appeared to move closer; ELN 1 Dec released engineer abducted in Antioquia dept July 2012, 24 Dec released kidnapped oil worker in Arauca dept. ELN commander Gabino said group had accepted as “challenge” to negotiate without ceasefire, but later retracted. Ombudsman’s Office 11 Dec said clashes between ELN and NIAG Urabeños in Chocó dept could cause displacement of 1,900 residents. Police closing in on Urabeños leader Otoniel with 12 Dec detention of cousin and sister. Security forces 27 Dec killed at least 10 FARC, including regional commander Jhon 26, in Meta dept. UN 30 Dec accused FARC of continuing to recruit children.

Bolivia

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Govt’s long-awaited study on domestic coca use said legal demand 20,690 metric tons, requiring 14,705ha of cultivation; compared with current legal limit of 12,000ha, 20,000ha demanded by coca growers, 25,300ha under cultivation in 2012.

 

Venezuela

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

President Maduro mid-month announced prices of electrical appliances unjustifiably high, ordered them reduced and told consumers to rush to shops and “leave nothing on shelves”; price controls subsequently extended to other consumer goods. Retail sector representatives warned it will be virtually impossible to maintain commercial operations. National Assembly 19 Nov approved law giving Maduro power to legislate by decree, primarily on economic matters, for 12 months, after govt removed opposition legislator on corruption charges. Local elections appeared set to go ahead 8 Dec despite fears govt would postpone poll. Opposition MUD seen as likely to make gains amid declining support in polls for ruling party, which is defending some 80% of municipalities. Govt decreed 8 Dec “Chavez loyalty day”, apparently planning to hold political rallies to coincide with poll in violation of electoral law. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched 23 Nov; MUD leader Capriles’ national tours coordinator arrested by military intelligence agents before marches started.

Colombia

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

16th round of govt-FARC peace talks started 23 Oct with discussions still centred on political participation. With 2014 electoral cycle approaching fast, President Santos 8 Oct discussed with senators and representatives of his party whether to pause, continue or end negotiations, with majority of Congress supporting continuation of talks but parties yet to discuss option in Havana. Amid increased FARC attacks on military targets and energy infrastructure mainly in E and SE, Santos 9 Oct launched large-scale counter-insurgency initiative targeted at FARC’s southern strongholds; denied contradiction with peace talks. FARC released former U.S. marine Kevin Scott Sutay 27 Oct after 4 months’ captivity. ELN 14 Oct said its delegation for exploratory talks with govt has been “ready” for a year, but process has not gone beyond “attempts to start”. Regional leader of New Illegal Armed Group Urabeños in Norte de Santander department “El Mico” surrendered and was captured alongside 17 members 23 Oct. Authorities 12 Oct arrested governor of La Guajira department Juan Francisco “Kiko” Gómez, accused of involvement in 1997 murder of local politician and 2 other killings. Convention of Democratic Centre movement led by former president Uribe 26 Oct elected former Finance Minister Óscar Iván Zuluaga as presidential candidate. Constitutional Court 23 Oct struck down over “procedural defects” constitutional reform and implementing legislation aimed at expanding military jurisdiction. Indigenous communities and govt 23 Oct signed agreement to boost judicial, administrative and political autonomy.

Bolivia

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Parliament 3 Oct approved controversial law changing number of legislative seats awarded to departments, strengthening legislative presence of wealthier eastern department Santa Cruz with 3 additional seats; 3 other departments, Chuquisaca, Potosí and Beni, lost 1 each. 4 people killed in 19 Oct clash between drug eradication team and coca growers in Apolo municipality, La Paz department; details unclear, coca growers said “provoked”, interior minister blamed Peruvian drug-trafficking gangs.

Venezuela

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Finance Minister Nelson Merentes, seen as leading advocate of more flexible economic policy, stripped of role as “economic VP” early Oct and replaced by oil minister and chief of state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela Rafael Ramirez. Ramirez’s appointment seen as strengthening hardliners led by Planning Minister Jorge Giordani who oppose détente with private sector, market economy. Rights activists voiced concern at revival of Strategic Center of Security and Homeland Protection, military-led body mandated to gather information on national security and determine which information should remain “restricted”.

Colombia

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

New cycle of govt-FARC peace negotiations ended 19 Sept amid increasing tensions; talks to resume 3 Oct. President Santos 24 Sept said before UNGA peace will not lead to impunity for serious crimes, also called for faster negotiation results as “time for decisions” had come. In reaction, FARC leader Timochenko 25 Sept slammed Santos for supposedly “unilaterally imposing” restrictions on talks. Security forces 25 Sept killed high-ranking member of FARC’s Daniel Aldana mobile column in Tumaco, Nariño. VP Garzón 9 Sept announced peace talks with ELN would begin “over next days and in different place to Havana”, but new setback 10 Sept when ELN allegedly kidnapped 3 pipeline workers in Saravena, Arauca. ELN 30 Sept reaffirmed willingness to participate in peace talks. Santos 4 Sept announced cabinet reshuffle, replacing inter alia embattled interior and agriculture ministers; 12 Sept presented “National Agrarian Pact” to confront agrarian crisis, but initiative rejected by peasant grassroots. Amid social protests, Santos approval ratings down to 21%. Former President Uribe 16 Sept announced he will run as head of list for Senate in March 2014 elections.

Venezuela

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Govt 10 Sept announced decision to proceed with country’s withdrawal from Inter-American Court on Human Rights, prompting concern domestically and abroad. France seized more than 1.3 tons of cocaine on Air France flight from Venezuela; authorities jailed 22 people, including National Guard officials and airport staff. Govt 30 Sept announced expulsion of 3 U.S. diplomats accused of plotting to sabotage economy.

Venezuela

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Supreme Court (TSJ) 8 Aug dismissed appeal against presidential elections results presented by opposition leader Henrique Capriles because allegations were “generic and vague”; Capriles said not surprised by decision, reiterated intention to appeal to international courts. Following 11 Aug announcement by attorney general Luisa Ortega Díaz that 50 people had been arrested and 53 charged with corruption-related offences, President Maduro said would ask National Assembly for legislative powers to combat corruption; opposition called new anti-corruption drive politically-motivated “witch hunt”.

Colombia

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

13th cycle of govt-FARC peace negotiations ended 28 Aug with discussions still centred on political participation. Talks had been suspended 23-25 Aug as FARC studied implications of 22 Aug govt draft legislation to allow referendum on possible peace agreement to coincide with 2014 national elections. Parties 26 Aug called for organisation of public discussions in Sept on illegal drugs, 4th agenda point. FARC 20 Aug recognised for first time it had caused “pain”. FARC 24 Aug reportedly killed 14 soldiers in Arauca department. President Santos 28 Aug said he was ready to start peace talks with National Liberation Army (ELN), after it released Canadian hostage after 7 months’ captivity 27 Aug. Constitutional Court 28 Aug approved Legal Framework for Peace while setting certain “interpretation parameters” regarding prosecution of serious crimes. “National Agrarian Strike” began 19 Aug. Santos 30 Aug ordered 50,000 military to guarantee mobility throughout country in reaction to violent protests 29 Aug which media said left 5 dead and 250 injured. 2-month peasant strike in Catatumbo region stopped after 2 Aug agreement to hold negotiations; first agreement on drug eradication reached 28 Aug.

Ecuador

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Security forces 3 July intercepted arms shipment in El Oro, 29 June recovered 1 surface-to-air missile in Sucumbíos; military sources said intended recipients were Colombian armed groups operating near border.

Colombia

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

FARC chief negotiator Iván Márquez 15 July expressed confidence country is nearing end of conflict, however FARC ambush in Arauca dept 20 July left 15 soldiers dead, prompting President Santos to order army “not to stop shooting” until conflict over. Constitutional Court 25 July held hearing on constitutionality of Legal Framework for Peace; judgment expected Aug. Speaking at hearing, Santos acknowledged state responsibility for violations of rights and IHL during conflict. Report released by govt’s Historical Memory Group found 218,094 Colombians killed by armed conflict 1958-2012, 80% of victims civilians. Prosecutor General’s Office 29 July confirmed army executed over 3,900 civilians since 1986 to inflate apparent success in fight against leftist rebels. State Council 9 July ruled Patriotic Union party, established as part of previous peace process and which lost legal status in 2002, can again run candidates for office beginning in 2014 elections. FARC chief Timochenko and National Liberation Army (ELN) commander Gabino 1 July issued joint communiqué calling for ELN’s inclusion in peace talks but ELN 16 July rejected govt preconditions for talks. ELN 29 July said release of Canadian mining hostage forthcoming, as Braeval Mining Corporation reportedly preparing to return mining titles to local communities. FARC 19 July announced it was holding former U.S. serviceman captive since 20 June, pledged to release him as “gesture” towards peace talks. Tensions between peasant communities and security forces in Norte de Santander continued, 4 protester deaths reported; UNOHCHR 15 July criticised govt for alleged “excessive” use of force; Santos 16 July stated Colombia no longer needed presence of OHCHR, then agreed one-year extension of its mandate. Authorities 27 July captured 20 alleged members of New Illegal Armed Group (NIAG) “Los Rastrojos”; 2 police suspected of acting as informants.

Venezuela

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Govt 23 July said ending talks to restore relations with U.S. in protest at remarks by UN ambassador-designate Samantha Power that civil society experiencing crackdown in Venezuela. President Maduro 5 July made public offer of asylum to fugitive U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Maduro continued to work to establish authority over military; rival national assembly chairman Diosdado Cabello also continued efforts to expand influence. Head of daily El Nacional accused govt of trying to silence it.

Bolivia

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Reports of significant drop in cocaine production in past year; authorities said 5,689ha of coca destroyed Jan-June 2013. Relations with U.S. and Europe deteriorated following 2 July grounding of President Morales’ plane in Austria on suspicion he was travelling with fugitive U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Bolivia

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Coca growers in Apolo municipality 1 June briefly detained 5 members of Joint Task Force undertaking coca eradication. Clashes related to eradication efforts continued, including highway blockages in Bautista Saavedra province that suspended transport to and from La Paz.

Ecuador

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Interior Minister Serrano 3 June said global war on drugs has failed, decriminalising drug use is logical policy response to problems associated with narco-trafficking; also said Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is only foreign trafficking group with significant operations in Ecuador.

Colombia

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Peace negotiations between govt and FARC resumed 11 June to discuss 2nd agenda item, political participation. Govt’s chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle 13 June confirmed agreement would centre on steps to create legal, sustainable political presence for guerrillas. FARC 19 June submitted 10 “minimum” proposals for eventual agreement, including guarantees of political representation, participation of marginalised communities, rights for political opposition, also called for popular election of positions such as Attorney General and Prosecutor General. Major point of contention is FARC demand for achieving structural reform of state through constituent assembly, which govt rejects. Protests over coca eradication and peasants reservations turned violent in Norte de Santander’s Catatumbo region; 4 people killed.

Venezuela

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

President Maduro 5 June denied rumours of further large devaluation of bolivar, blamed “corrupt, fascist right-wing” forces within country for attempting to spread fear about economy. Following several postponements, govt set elections for mayors and councillors for 8 Dec 2013. National Electoral Council (CNE) 12 June announced it concluded audit of 14 April presidential election results and found no discrepancies; Supreme Court yet to announce if it will submit legal challenges to election. FM Jaua 5 June met U.S. Sec State Kerry at OAS General Assembly in Guatemala.


Venezuela

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Venezuela Opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance 2 May called on Supreme Court (TSJ) electoral chamber to annul 14 April presidential election on account of multiple alleged irregularities, including violence at polling stations, exclusion of opposition witnesses and coercion of voters; 8 May filed second suit calling for partial annulment of election, citing irregularities in 5,729 mesas (voting tables) which it said compromised over 2.3 million votes. MUD also challenged 3 electoral chamber judges on grounds of partiality to ruling party. President Maduro mid-month accused private sector of waging “economic war” on regime by slowing production and hoarding goods. Head of National Assembly Diosdado Cabello said meeting between MUD leader Henrique Capriles and Colombian President Santos in Bogotá 29 May amounted to putting “bomb” in bilateral relations. FM Jaua said Venezuela recalled envoy to Havana peace talks, Maduro said meeting amounted to “backstabbing”; Santos dismissed allegations Colombia is trying to destabilise Venezuela as “crazy”. National Electoral Council announced municipal elections will be held 8 Dec.

Colombia

  |  1 Jun 2013

Improved

Agreement announced 26 May between govt and FARC on rural development – 1st agenda item in peace talks – in major boost to process; details unlikely to be released until conclusion of entire process, but President Santos said 4 main points are access to/use of land, rural development programs, health and education for rural poor, food security/improved nutrition. Govt and FARC will discuss political participation next. Prospects that peace talks with ELN would begin in May suffered setback when ELN killed 11 soldiers; ELN currently holding one captive following ambush in Norte de Santander 22 May. Security forces 4 May killed FARC commander Caliche in Nariño dept; 20 May killed leader of FARC’s Antonia Santos mobile column El Negro Eliécer in Norte de Santander dept; 15 May killed ELN commander Almeida in Arauca dept; 29 May arrested top commander of New Illegal Armed Group (NIAG) Urabeños Martin Bala. Constitutional Court ruled 17 May that Victims Law protections must be extended to include victims of forced displacement caused by NIAGs.   

Bolivia

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged
President Morales 1 May expelled U.S. Agency for International Development, accusing it of political interference with peasant unions and other social organisations and conspiring against govt. Constitutional Court late April ruled Morales can run for re-election in 2014 election.

Colombia

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged Resolution Opportunity

President Santos 9 April said hoped talks with ELN will begin “sooner rather than later,” amid increasing speculation that official announcement of negotiations with Colombia’s second guerrilla group will come in May. Peace talks with FARC set to resume 17 April postponed until 23 April for scheduling and logistical reasons; FARC negotiating team joined by 4 new members, including influential Pablo Catatumbo, commander of Alfonso Cano bloc. Sides have yet to announce agreement on any of 5 major agenda items. UN and National University held public forums in Bogotá on potential political participation of FARC 28-30 April; all major political parties participated except supporters of former president Uribe. FARC, ELN 1 April announced cooperation in Arauca dept and elsewhere in east to fight extractive projects, multinational companies. Amid rumours of possible splits within organisation, FARC’s Southern Bloc 9 April said it would comply with possible peace agreement “to the letter”. Killing of prominent land restitution activist Ever Antonio Cordero in Córdoba 9 April prompted widespread condemnation, underscored worries about escalating violence against civil society leaders. Death of “Emerald King” Víctor Carranza 4 April prompted concerns of violent conflict over access to emerald resources.

Ecuador

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Security forces 10 April exchanged fire with unknown illegal armed group on Colombian border, second such attack by groups in Sucumbíos province in less than a month.

Venezuela

  |  1 May 2013

Deteriorated

Following March death of President Chávez, closely fought elections on 14 April triggered political crisis. Result much closer than most opinion polls had predicted, with VP Maduro defeating opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) candidate Henrique Capriles by less than 2 percentage points and fewer than 230,000 votes; opposition refused to accept result. Maduro’s narrow victory, along with acute political polarisation and controversy surrounding govt use of state resources to support Maduro’s campaign, prompted one electoral body (CNE) member to call for 100% audit of paper ballots (just over 50% already audited on election day) to verify electronic results. Call echoed by Capriles, but CNE majority rejected proposal. Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) meeting in Lima 18 April reportedly persuaded govt to allow audit of an additional 18,000 ballot boxes; CNE said 12,000 of those 18,000 would be randomly selected, process will take 30 days. Some CNE members insisted electronic result is irreversible, any challenge would have to be made before Supreme Court, whose president also declared there could be no change since electoral law rules out manual recount. MUD insisted it has sufficient evidence of irregularities to call result into question. Maduro blamed Capriles for violent incidents in days following election, including 8 deaths he said result of opposition “campaign of violence”.

Venezuela

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

President Chávez died from cancer 5 March; VP Maduro sworn in as acting president after funeral. Electoral commission (CNE) 9 March announced legislative elections to be held 14 April; will pit Maduro against opposition Democratic Unity alliance’s Henrique Capriles. Maduro further hardened stance on opposition and U.S., claimed U.S. plot to assassinate Capriles “to create chaos in country”. Govt 5 March expelled 2 U.S. diplomats for allegedly conspiring against govt; U.S. 11 March ordered 2 Venezuelan diplomats to leave U.S. .Opposition demanding that CNE take steps to curb govt abuse of state resources for campaigning, wants armed forces to adopt more neutral stance.

Colombia

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

Govt and FARC 1 March indicated significant progress towards agreement on rural development, first issue on Havana peace talks’ agenda. Agriculture Minister 14 March publicly rejected FARC proposal to increase to 59 number of Peasant Reservation Zones (ZRC). On closing latest round of talks 21 March, both sides confirmed advances, called for preparation of public discussion on political participation, second point on agenda. President Santos 13 March said possible to conclude talks within “months”. Senator Roy Barreras 5 March said deal must be signed by July to allow Congress time to draft and debate legislation before 2014 elections. Barreras and 5 others travelled to Cuba 3 March for discussions with FARC, officially focusing on victims and legislative perspectives on peace. Several security personnel and FARC guerrillas killed during month in continued violent confrontations, and many injured in series of suspected FARC bombings. Santos 11 March claimed fewer than 8,000 remaining FARC fighters. Govt 5 March destroyed large drug laboratory thought to be financing 5 FARC fronts, with much of output reportedly destined to be sold to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. ELN released 2 German hostages 8 March; ELN commander Gabino 24 March confirmed negotiating team ready for talks, but denied exploratory contacts. ELN brigade leader “Omar” reported killed 28 March during clash between guerillas and military in SW.

Colombia

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Peace talks between govt and FARC resumed in Cuba 18 Feb, with both sides reportedly optimistic about prospects for agreement; FARC 6 Feb proposed legalising cultivation of coca, marijuana and poppy for therapeutic, medical, industrial and traditional uses, 27 Feb demanded “high-level commission to clarify the truth” over govt allegations FARC stole large expanses of land from people, also suggested former U.S. president Carter participate. President Santos 23 Feb threatened to end talks if no progress achieved but 25 Feb noted negotiations were going in right direction. FARC 15-16 Feb released 2 policemen, 1 soldier held since late Jan. In weeklong break between talks, confrontations resulted in deaths of 7 soldiers in Caquetá and 2 in Antioquia, 6 guerrilla members 13-15 Feb. 3 soldiers killed 15 Feb during patrol in rural area outside Bogotá. FARC also reportedly responsible for bomb that destroyed police station in Putumayo, explosion targeting energy tower in Antioquia, attack on restaurant in Putumayo which left 2 dead. ELN 4 Feb announced holding 2 German hostages, reportedly captured Nov 2012 in Norte de Santander; 15 Feb released 5 mining company employees kidnapped 18 Jan, but kept hostage Canadian manager. NGO Somos Defensores released annual report, found 69 rights defenders killed in 2012, growing number of threats, assassinations, attacks on rights workers.

Venezuela

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Govt 18 Feb announced return of President Chávez following 70-day absence for cancer treatment in Cuba; VP Maduro 28 Feb said Chávez “battling for his life”. Opposition Democratic Unity alliance (MUD) continued to press for full medical report and restoration of constitutional normality as Chávez yet to be inaugurated.

Ecuador

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

President Correa 17 Feb secured re-election with 56.7% of vote; runner-up Guillermo Lasso won 23%. Correa 19 Feb said his party likely won three quarters of seats in Congress, vowed to “steamroll” through reforms to entrench his “citizen’s revolution”. 

Venezuela

  |  1 Feb 2013

Risk Alert Unchanged

Fears of instability after Supreme Court (TSJ) moved to keep cancer-stricken President Chávez in power despite his failure to attend 10 Jan inauguration for his third presidential term, prompting opposition challenge and signs of further radicalisation of both sides. TSJ 9 Jan ruled Chávez did not need to be sworn for new term before National Assembly but that he could take oath of office at unspecified later date before TSJ; also argued that ministers could remain in power. Chávez 15 Jan appointed loyalist and former VP Elías Jaua as foreign minister and “political VP”. Opposition leader Capriles said govt “openly lies” about Chávez health. Electoral Commission 29 Jan said municipal elections initially scheduled 26 May now to be held 14 July. Prison riot in Barquisimeto 25 Jan left at least 61 people dead; UNOHCHR 29 Jan expressed concern over violence in prisons.

Colombia

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

Peace talks resumed 14 Jan; FARC presented 10-point plan for agricultural development concentrating on poverty reduction, land inequality, rural development, food sovereignty. FARC also called for creation of Constituent Assembly to confirm results of peace process; President Santos 16 Jan ruled out possibility of assembly but opened door to referendum mechanism. FARC resumed hostilities 20 Jan following expiration of 2-month unilateral ceasefire; ceasefire period saw great reduction of FARC offensive operations compared to corresponding period in 2011/2012. FARC 25 Jan abducted 2 police officers in Valle del Cauca dept, provoking tensions at negotiation table; 29 Jan killed 1 soldier in La Guajira dept; 30 Jan killed 4 soldiers in Narino dept. Security forces 31 Jan killed 5 FARC in Antioqui dept. FARC late Jan declared group will carry on capturing military personnel despite warnings it could undermine peace talks. ELN 18 Jan kidnapped 6 mine workers, including 3 foreigners, in Bolívar dept. At least 9 people killed 31 Dec in Antioquia dept during meeting reportedly organised by criminal Envigado Office group. Justice Minister Correa 29 Jan said govt will seek to decriminalise personal use of synthetic drugs; also set up advisory commission including former president Gaviria tasked with analysing drug policy over the last 10 years.

Bolivia

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

President Morales early Jan secured re-admission into UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, obtained special dispensation clause on traditional local coca chewing. Ruling MAS party 20 Jan suffered electoral defeat in gubernatorial elections in opposition stronghold region Beni.

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CrisisWatch N°132

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