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.
In his introduction to this month’s edition of CrisisWatch, our President Robert Malley reflects on our field analysts’ work, Crisis Group’s mandate, and why we call for inclusive dialogue in Ethiopia.
As the coronavirus rages in Mexico and the northerly Central American countries, criminal outfits have adapted, often enlarging their turf. To fight organised crime more effectively, governments should combine policing with programs to aid the vulnerable and create attractive alternatives to illegal economic activity.
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.
Controversy over the 2019 election and its violent aftermath continues to haunt Bolivian politics. As fresh polls approach, outside actors should supply technical advice and monitoring, as well as push rival parties to pledge to keep any disputes off the streets.
The murder rate in El Salvador, once the world’s highest, is falling fast. President Nayib Bukele attributes the good news to his harsh anti-gang crackdown, but other factors are likely also salient. The government should explore policing and socio-economic reforms to calm the country’s streets.
Crime rates are climbing across Mexico, as cartels splinter into smaller groups competing ferociously for turf. Just one state, Guerrero, contends with at least 40 such outfits. The government needs a tailored approach for each region, focused on protecting the public and reforming the police.
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.
The history in Colombia is when you start a wave of violence it accelerates and it’s very hard to stop.
The reduction of homicides [in El Salvador] seemed not to be due to government security strategy, but rather a gang decision.
The impotence of Mexican government security forces has been made particularly evident in the events of the last few months.
[Venezuela's] health service had collapsed long before sanctions were imposed.
[The arrest of José Antonio Yépez] is basically a short-lived P.R. victory, but it doesn’t provide a solution. The big worry is that there is no backing in terms of a more cohesive security strategy.
While much of the narrative around violence in Mexico focuses on drug trafficking and cartels, the "on-the-ground realities are far more complex.
In a stunning reversal of fortune, Bolivian voters returned the party of former President Evo Morales to power one year after his ouster. The new government should use its remarkable mandate to heal wounds at home and build cross-ideological bridges in its South American neighbourhood.
The failure of the “war on drugs” – now a welter of spreading conflicts – is a U.S.-Mexican co-production. Washington should stop pushing Mexico City to throw ever more military force at organised crime. Instead, it should help its southern neighbour find solutions tailored to each locale.
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.