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Colombia

In November 2016 the government and FARC rebels signed an agreement ending five decades of guerrilla war. To consolidate this achievement, the state must redress the inequalities that sustained that conflict as well as make peace with Colombia’s last major insurgency, the ELN. 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 ELN talks to drug trafficking to Colombia’s relations with its troubled neighbour, Venezuela. 

CrisisWatch Colombia

Deteriorated Situation

Police brutality sparked deadly unrest, while violence in rural areas continued to take high toll on civilians. After video emerged of excessive use of force by police against taxi driver during his arrest night of 8-9 Sept, large protests 9 Sept erupted in capital Bogotá and other cities; protesters set at least 22 police stations on fire across country and police fired live ammunition, leaving at least 13 dead in and around Bogotá 9-10 Sept. High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos 14 Sept alleged National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) groups coordinated violence, while attorney general 18 Sept said govt had captured four members of FARC dissident cell in Bogotá. Following calls by National Strike Committee, which coordinated late 2019 protest movement, thousands 21 Sept took to streets in several cities to protest dire economic situation and poor living conditions. Supreme Court 22 Sept ruled in favour of citizen petition requiring govt to guarantee right of peaceful protest; govt next day said it would ask Constitutional Court to re-evaluate decision. Large-scale killings (with three or more victims) of civilians continued, leaving at least 12 dead in Bajo Cauca area of Antioquia and Córdoba departments (north west) where Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC, one of country’s main drug trafficking groups) and AGC splinter group Caparros fight for control of mining rights and drug trafficking routes, and ELN and FARC dissident factions also operate. Several massacres also recorded in Sept in Cauca and Nariño departments along Pacific coast, leaving at least 17 dead.  In Alto Baudó municipality, Chocó (west), fighting between AGC and ELN 25 Aug-17 Sept displaced some 450 people and confined over 4,000 members of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities to homes. In testimony to Special Jurisdiction for Peace (established by govt-FARC peace deal), FARC party chief Rodrigo Londoño 9 Sept said forced recruitment was not FARC policy during civil war, sparking criticism from other political parties; FARC 15 Sept issued statement describing kidnappings as “grave error”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
25 Mar 2018
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. Vanguardia

Kyle Johnson

Former Senior Analyst, Colombia

Latest Updates

Being a community leader in Colombia comes at a high price

 

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.

Under a Merciless Sun: Venezuelans Stranded Across the Colombian Border

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.

Also available in Español

Local Polls in Colombia Put Peace to the Test

On 27 October, Colombia will hold its first local elections since a 2016 peace agreement between the government and FARC rebels. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson explains what is at stake politically and why so much violence has accompanied the campaign.

Also available in Español

Calming the Restless Pacific: Violence and Crime on Colombia’s Coast

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.

Also available in Español

Building Trust in Colombia’s Hub of Coca and Conflict

Two years ago, Crisis Group found that major threats to Colombia’s peace process with former guerrillas all intersect in the Pacific coastal district of Tumaco. Our Colombia analyst Kyle Johnson made it his mission to find out more.

Also available in Español

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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