Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and wealthiest member of the Community of Andean Nations (CAN), is in deep political crisis, with high risk that its democratic institutions could collapse, and some possibility of civil war.
In February 2004, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the major insurgent group, announced creation of a three-member negotiation commission and a "diplomatic offensive" aimed at obtaining the release of hundreds of its imprisoned members in exchange for about 60 military and political hostages it holds.
More than any of his predecessors, President Alvaro Uribe has made combating the insurgents the overriding priority and defining objective of the Colombian government.Through modest achievements on the ground a sense of public security has begun to be re-established. However, Uribe’s “Democratic Security Policy” (DSP), the long-term strategy promised to lend coherence to the security effort, has been stalled for nearly a year by political infighting and fundamental arguments over how best to bring the 40-year conflict to a close.
Eighteen months after the rupture of peace talks between its predecessor and the main insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Uribe administration has entered upon a high risk-high gain negotiating process with the main paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), that will test its skill and its good faith.
This ICG report argues that it is paramount that much more decisive action be taken immediately to confront Colombia’s humanitarian crisis. Massive human hardship and suffering has become a constant feature of life as the armed conflict has expanded and intensified.
While the Colombian armed conflict has deep roots in history, increasingly it is fuelled by the inflow of weapons, explosives and chemical precursors and financed by an outflow of drugs.
The first hundred days have come and gone, and Colombians continue to hold high hopes that President Álvaro Uribe will lead the country out of its entrenched crisis by strengthening security and resolving the decades-long civil war.
Alvaro Uribe was inaugurated President of Colombia on 7 August 2002 with a strong electoral mandate to fulfil his pledge to enhance the state’s authority and guarantee security.
This presidential election (first round on 26 May 2002; second round, if needed, on 16 June) will be crucial for the future of Colombia’s democracy and its struggle against insurgents and paramilitaries, drugs and widespread poverty.
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