Colombia

In November 2016, the government and FARC rebels signed an agreement ending five decades of guerrilla war, yet peace remains elusive as new armed groups have stepped in to compete for territory and illicit businesses. To defend the gains of the peace process and stop a new cycle of conflict from taking hold, the state must redress the inequality underlying social discontent, make peace with Colombia’s last major insurgency, the ELN, and design security strategies that put protecting people first. 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 new patterns of armed conflict to Colombia’s relations with its troubled neighbour, Venezuela. 

CrisisWatch Colombia

Unchanged Situation

Authorities made progress with “Total Peace” plan as talks with ELN got under way; President Petro pledged greater cooperation with Venezuela during first official visit to Caracas.

Govt made strides in initiating “Total Peace” plan. President Petro 4 Nov signed legislation giving govt legal authority to: negotiate with armed groups and “criminal structures of high impact” (outfits with sustained capacity to carry out violence threatening civilians); suspend arrest warrants for individuals participating in dialogue; and gradually eliminate mandatory military service in favour of social service. Meanwhile, peace talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas 21 Nov began in Venezuelan capital Caracas, group’s first negotiations with govt since 2019. ELN same day issued statement saying negotiating team “has the backing of the entire organisation” amid concerns around its decentralised structure, which has impeded past negotiations.

Localised armed and criminal violence rose, notably in Arauca and Valle de Cauca. In initial outreach to armed and criminal actors, govt requested demonstrations of good-will through reduction in violence against civilians; however, attacks and other types of violent control increased during month. Notably, brief calm in Arauca department shattered after Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident faction known as 28th Front 8 Nov released audio promising to kill 300 civilians, likely including social leaders, allegedly linked to rival group ELN. In port city of Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca department, clashes resumed early Nov between Los Shotas and Los Espartanos criminal groups, breaking 2 Oct truce and causing forced displacements and confinements. Meanwhile, Petro 5 Nov signed Colombia’s ratification of Escazú Agreement, intended to protect environmental activists, who have been heavily targeted during country’s armed conflict. Govt 28 Nov announced offensive against armed groups operating in border areas and called for collaboration from neighbours.

Petro visited Venezuela amid ongoing efforts to normalise relations. Petro met Venezuelan President Maduro 1 Nov for first official presidential visit to Caracas, during which they signed joint communiqué pledging cooperation in areas such as trade, border security, consular services and transport links; Colombian Senate 2 Nov unanimously approved bill to better regulate international transport of cargo and passengers between two countries, thereby improving commercial ties and reducing border insecurity.

Continue reading

In The News

1 Nov 2022
Indigenous communities have suffered disproportionately from targeted violence, displacement and massacres throughout Colombia’s conflict. Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
18 Jul 2022
From a humanitarian, security and economic perspective the closure of the border [between Colombia and Venezuela] has been a disaster. It’s pushed migrants in the directi... Financial Times

Bram Ebus

Consultant
20 Jun 2022
[The] strategy of fear, hate and stigmatization towards the left [in Colombia] no longer works as a policy to win voters. AP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
27 May 2022
The main [concern for voters in Colombia] is just sort of bread and butter economic issues, access to education, services... inequality. AFP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
10 May 2022
The security strategy [of the Colombian government] of focusing on high profile targets does not guarantee security for civilians. AP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
1 Mar 2022
Coca is really just the currency of Colombia’s ongoing conflict. The Telegraph

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia

Latest Updates

Our People

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
Elizabeth Dickinson

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.