The Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, long plagued by guerrilla warfare and organised crime, is now also the site of an inter-state standoff. The two countries should urgently reopen communication channels to lower tensions and lessen the suffering of migrants who cross the border, whether legally or otherwise.
Territorial contests between armed groups continued to afflict populations in rural areas. Suspected Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents 5 Dec killed at least four members of indigenous community in Santander de Quilichao municipality, Cauca department (south west). National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas 3-15 Dec imposed armed strike in Iscaundé and Guapi municipalities in south-western Nariño and Cauca departments respectively, prohibiting car and boat transport and reportedly confining over 4,000 people to their homes. Suspected ELN combatants 27 Dec killed family of five, including former FARC combatant, in Montecristo municipality, Bolívar department (north). Meanwhile, violence persisted in Antioquia department (north west) as drug trafficking group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) battled splinter groups; notably, spate of AGC attacks 11-13 Dec killed at least seven civilians in Caucasia and El Bagre municipalities. Govt 4 Dec reiterated 31 Dec deadline for armed group turned political party FARC to turn over economic proceeds from decades-long conflict; FARC 15 Dec reiterated official position that all assets have been declared or provided to govt. Govt pursued efforts to restart aerial fumigation of coca crops, paused in 2015, despite vocal opposition from civil society organisations, which argue fumigation poses health, social and environmental risks, and effects on reducing cocaine supply still unclear. Environmental Licensing Authority 19 Dec held public audience; meeting was one of final steps required by Constitutional Court to restart spraying.
Murders of Colombian grassroots activists are increasing at an alarming rate. The killers seek to sabotage the country’s 2016 peace agreement and the rural economic reform it promised. Bogotá should step up prosecution of these crimes while pushing to improve social conditions in the countryside.
Geography, economics and migration patterns dictate that Colombia and Venezuela, which severed diplomatic ties in 2019, will confront the coronavirus pandemic together. The two countries should temporarily mend their relations, and the Venezuelan factions should pause their duel, to allow for a coordinated humanitarian response.
Three years after the FARC peace deal, Colombia’s Pacific region has seen surges of both dissident guerrilla activity and drug-related crime. To better aid this historically neglected area, the state should expand its presence, speed up development projects and improve educational opportunities for all.
Talks in Havana with the ELN, Colombia’s last insurgency, are advancing at a slow pace. Backed by international actors, the current government and guerrilla negotiators should aim for rapid progress in negotiations to minimise the chance of a sceptical incoming president abandoning the peace process.
Colombia’s president-elect campaigned on a pledge to “modify” the 2016 peace with the FARC guerrillas, despite its goal of reducing the rural inequality underlying that insurgency. The new government should steer clear of hardline policies that alienate the countryside and hinder the ex-guerrilla's path to civilian life.
Colombia’s 2016 peace accord has brought over 10,000 FARC fighters to the cusp of civilian life, but in their wake rival armed groups are battling for control of vacated territory and lucrative coca crops. In order to roll back booming drug production and expanding non-state groups, the Colombian government should provide local farmers with alternative livelihoods while developing grassroots security and local governance.
The history in Colombia is when you start a wave of violence it accelerates and it’s very hard to stop.
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.
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.
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
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?
El Eln [colombiano] estuvo en consultas internas hasta el martes pasado y si en esas reuniones acordaron hacer un desescalamiento podríamos estarlo viendo en este momento.
Colombia’s grassroots leaders face a rising tide of attacks as they campaign for conflict-stricken communities’ rights. These assaults weaken the peace accord, undermine its base of popular support and expose the state’s grave difficulties in protecting communities from forces with vested interests and violent designs. Protecting these leaders, deterring their enemies and ensuring their communities’ safety should be put at the heart of security policy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare shortcomings in the implementation of the FARC peace agreement. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to continue pushing for full implementation of the 2016 accord and encouraging the government to pursue a humanitarian ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN).
In early September, demonstrations against police brutality erupted in Colombia’s capital and other cities. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson explains that reactions to the unrest have exposed the country’s political polarisation amid anxieties about the coronavirus and the 2016 FARC peace agreement.
As Venezuela’s economy plumbs the depths of collapse, a new cohort of refugees is trekking across parched landscapes to Colombia. It consists of the most vulnerable, including poor expectant mothers, unaccompanied children and the sick, people with no defence against the predations of armed bands.