In November 2016, the government and FARC rebels signed an agreement ending five decades of guerrilla war, yet peace remains elusive as new armed groups have stepped in to compete for territory and illicit businesses. To defend the gains of the peace process and stop a new cycle of conflict from taking hold, the state must redress the inequality underlying social discontent, make peace with Colombia’s last major insurgency, the ELN, and design security strategies that put protecting people first. Crisis Group has worked on Colombia’s conflicts since 2002, publishing over 40 reports and briefings and meeting hundreds of times with all parties in support of inclusive peace efforts. We monitor the FARC deal’s progress and carry out field research on issues ranging from new patterns of armed conflict to Colombia’s relations with its troubled neighbour, Venezuela.
Migrants from far and wide are trekking northward through the Darién Gap, a dense jungle where they face dangers including criminal predation. Steps to improve law enforcement, ease crises in countries of origin and provide more humanitarian aid would push policy in the right direction.
Govt struck ceasefire agreement with FARC dissidents, marking further progress for President Petro’s “total peace” policy; armed and criminal violence persisted.
Govt secured ceasefire with FARC dissident faction. Petro administration 16 Oct agreed to three-month bilateral ceasefire with dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor Central (FARC-EMC), marking significant political win for govt. Agreement, which went into effect 17 Oct, included specific protocols protecting civilians and ensuring free conduct of local elections on 29 Oct; FARC-EMC had previously said it would not allow unfriendly candidates to run in its territory. While deal is national, sides agreed to define regions where FARC-EMC is present and concentrate implementation and monitoring there. Agreement also officially opened talks between govt and dissidents; negotiations aim to reach partial deals that can be implemented as political talks continue; sides agreed, for example, to undertake “transformation” projects aimed at improving conditions in priority areas, starting with Caño de Micay, Cauca department (south west), where some 1,800 civilians were recently displaced in confrontations between FARC-EMC and military. Meanwhile, govt-ELN negotiating table as of 10 Oct will function permanently in capital Bogotá to maintain progress on implementing agreements on participation, bilateral ceasefire and humanitarian relief.
Violence persisted in several regions. Despite diplomatic advances, clashes between armed and criminal groups continued. Notably, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces clashed with ELN in attempt to dislodge guerrillas from gold mining areas in eastern Antioquia and southern Bolívar (north). FARC-EMC fought separate dissident faction Segunda Marquetalia in Telembí triangle area in Nariño department (Pacific Coast), displacing almost 500, according to early Oct UN report. Comandos de la Frontera criminal group 6-8 Oct held armed strike in Caquetá and Putumayo departments (south).
Governing party suffered setback at ballot box. Local elections 29 Oct dealt blow to Petro govt, with opposition candidates winning number of key seats, including in major cities and governorships. Authorities reported several incidents of vandalism and clashes between voters at polling centres, while eight candidates were murdered in months leading up to polls.
In another important development. Petro 31 Oct recalled ambassador to Israel over “massacre of the Palestinian people”.
The ELN [in Colombia] has made very clear they have no intention of ceasing their economic activities which includes kidnapping.
By the time the Colombian state signed a peace accord with the former FARC rebels [in 2016], kidnapping nearly disappeared … But in recent years that trend has reversed.
None of the armed groups [in Colombia] will give up anything significant unless they are under military pressure.
Indigenous communities have suffered disproportionately from targeted violence, displacement and massacres throughout Colombia’s conflict.
In this video, personal narratives from migrants, smugglers, and locals shed light on the perilous journey through the Darién Gap, a treacherous migration route between Central and South America marked by criminal control.
Despite peace talks between the government and armed groups, levels of violence in Colombia remain high. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group outlines how the EU can promote negotiations and encourage inclusiveness therein.
The Darién – a patch of dense jungle on the strip of land connecting Colombia and Panama – is one of the most treacherous routes in the Americas. In this multimedia commentary, Bram Ebus follows the journey of Yeimy, a Venezuelan migrant, and her sons.
El evento explora los principios de la "paz total" y explica el papel de la comunidad internacional para ayudar a Colombia a abordar la violencia que afecta a la sociedad.
The new Colombian government has resolved to curb violence throughout rural areas where guerrillas and criminals hold sway. Its approach – dialogue and security reform – is admirable but risky. Any deal it strikes should seek to halt all the types of coercion the illicit groups employ.
After a three-year diplomatic conflict between Colombia and Venezuela, Bogotá and Caracas are now resuming relations. Starting in 2019, this timeline presents the events that led to the rupture and the significant steps taken toward rebuilding ties between the two states.
As part of his commitment to bringing “total peace” to Colombia, President Gustavo Petro has inaugurated new talks with the country’s last leftist insurgency. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson explains why this round of negotiations could differ from failed past attempts.
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