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Colombia

CrisisWatch Colombia

Unchanged Situation

Security situation continued to deteriorate along Pacific coast and Venezuelan border, and govt took further steps toward restarting contentious coca crop fumigation.  In Cauca department (south west along Pacific coast), clashes involving guerrilla groups National Liberation Army and self-described Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents, and military, continued in Argelia municipality, reportedly killing 14 guerillas and one military officer 17 April; Ombudsman’s Office next day reported 250 civilians displaced and several injured by anti-personnel mines. Also in Cauca, unidentified gunmen 20 April shot dead indigenous leader Sandra Liliana Peña in Caldono town, and 22 April opened fire on members of indigenous community who were destroying coca crops in Caldono municipality, leaving 31 injured. NGO Indepaz 20 April reported 52 social leaders and human rights activists killed across country since 1 Jan; later said seven demobilised FARC combatants were killed in several regions 14-21 April. Clashes between FARC dissidents and Venezuelan army continued in Venezuela’s Apure state near Colombian border (see Venezuela), fuelling tensions between both countries. Notably, Colombia 13 April decried Venezuelan President Maduro’s leadership as “illegitimate”. As part of efforts to meet conditions set by 2017 Constitutional Court ruling to restart aerial fumigation of coca crops, govt 12 April issued decree outlining regulations to govern spraying with glyphosate pesticide. Earlier in month, govt 6 April signed decree relocating citizens’ constitutional injunctions on national security issues – including those related to eradication and fumigation – from regional court system into administrative body Council of State; move comes after several petitions in regional courts held back fumigation. President Duque 20 April said govt expects to restart spraying as soon as June in coca-dense Norte de Santander department (north east). Civil society activists 20 April sent petition backed by 20,000 signatures to Constitutional Court, requesting it prevent govt from resuming fumigation, citing inefficiency in reducing cultivation and health and environment risks. Thousands 28-30 April protested govt’s tax reform proposal in several cities, notably in Cali city in Valle del Cauca department; protests turned violent reportedly leaving several killed and hundreds of civilians and police injured.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

26 Apr 2021
There’s a lot of work to be done to fix social cohesion [in Colombia] because violence is at times the default answer, which is a legacy of so many years of conflict. The Telegraph

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
13 Sep 2020
The history in Colombia is when you start a wave of violence it accelerates and it’s very hard to stop. New York Times

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
1 Nov 2019
The string of assassinations of indigenous leaders in Cauca illustrates some of the fundamental tensions at the center of the debate about protection for human rights defenders in Colombia. Twitter

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
8 Aug 2019
As long as each side [in Venezuela] pursues a winner-take-all approach, they are less willing to make concessions and a deal will remain elusive. Associated Press

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
5 Jul 2019
A former FARC negotiator and member of its Central High Command, alias Jesús Santrich, abandoned his security detail on Saturday night and has since gone missing. Who is he, why is there talk of scandal and what does this mean for Colombia’s peace process? A thread Twitter

Kyle Johnson

Former Senior Analyst, Colombia
29 Jun 2018
It’s essential that the state will take responsibility for [FARC fighters] basic needs so that they can become an integrated part of Colombian society. [The healthcare issue] raises the fundamental question that goes through the whole implementation of the peace process, which is: how much has the Colombian state oversold itself? News Deeply

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia

Coca crops have set record yields in Colombia since the 2016 peace accord with FARC guerrillas, persuading the government to expand its forced eradication campaign with the backing of U.S. authorities. Bogotá claims that eliminating the plant will reduce rural violence.

Coca and Violence in Colombia (Online Event)

Online event joining together experts on drug policy from the Washington Office on Latin America's (WOLA), field-level expertise from Corporación Viso Mutop and Crisis Group senior analysts to discuss our new report: "Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia." 

Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia

Coca gives Colombian small farmers a stable livelihood but also endangers their lives, as criminals battle over the drug trade and authorities try to shut it down. Bogotá and Washington should abandon their heavy-handed elimination efforts and help growers find alternatives to the hardy plant.

Also available in Español

A Refuge from Violence in a Forgotten Corner of Colombia

Throughout Colombia, social leaders are a staple of community life, providing services and defending rights that the state does not. But these activists face growing dangers from the criminals, ex-paramilitaries and self-styled guerrillas whose rackets they disrupt. This is one woman’s story.

Also available in Español

What Makes Peace? Colombia’s Ex-President Santos Says It’s Harder than War

In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Juan Manuel Santos, the former president of Colombia, explains how he made peace with the FARC guerrillas after leading a fierce military campaign against them for years and what lessons this experience teaches for conflict prevention around the world. 

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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