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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

Unchanged Situation

National Strike continued to pressure govt of President Duque, whose planned “National Conversation” talks did little to quell protests, while attacks and clashes involving armed groups continued, displacing civilians along Pacific Coast. Coalition of university and workers’ unions, peace activists, indigenous leaders and opposition continued to demand govt directly negotiate with strike organisers on growing list of demands; tens of thousands joined protests on 6 Dec in Bogotá, Cali, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, Cartagena, and several smaller cities. Govt 2 Dec agreed to hold separate dialogue directly with strike organisers; on 26 Dec announced minimum wage increase of 6%, largest increase in recent history. Strike leaders who also resurrected calls for govt to restart direct negotiations with National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, suspended since Jan 2019. Duque 10 Dec said door to negotiations remained open, but ELN must release all hostages and unilaterally halt attacks. Car bomb attributed to ELN exploded in Boyacá department at military base close to Venezuelan border 12 Dec, wounding at least three; Duque said attack indicated ELN did not want peace. Violence and clashes between Gaitanista criminal cartel (AGC) and ELN continued to displace five Afro and indigenous communities in Alto Baudó (Chocó), with govt early Dec reporting 3,200 displaced in November. Both groups seeking to consolidate control over corridor connecting coca-producing areas in Bajo Cauca (Antioquia) to Pacific coast. Elsewhere, combat escalated along Pacific coast communities in Nariño between armed forces and FARC dissidents, displacing several hundred civilians; military early Dec reported FARC dissidents and others increasingly deploying improvised explosive devices. A young couple, both environmental activists, was killed 20 Dec in rural area outside Atlantic city of Santa Marta; 24 Dec social leader Lucy Villarreal was assassinated in Tumaco, Nariño. Duque announced 27 Dec he was replacing head of military Nicacio Martínez, whose year-long tenure was plagued by scandals over past association with “false positive” assassinations, pressure on soldiers to capture and kill combatants. New army chief is Eduardo Zapateiro.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
13 Mar 2018
Increased prices can be charged to [Venezuelan] migrants because of their sheer desire to cross [the border to reach Colombia]. IRIN

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

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

Crucial Reforms Languish as Colombia Seeks to Consolidate Peace

Colombia’s fragile peace is threatened by rural violence and the humanitarian burden of hosting Venezuelan refugees. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to sustain strong support for the implementation of the 2016 peace accords. 

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – Second Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The second update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Colombia, Ethiopia, Iran and Libya.

Bogotá Bomb Shatters Peace Talks with Colombia’s Last Guerrillas

After Bogotá’s deadliest bombing since 2003, the government is likely to crack down hard on Colombia’s last guerrilla group, the ELN. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Colombia Kyle Johnson says any new military campaign should distinguish between ELN factions and is unlikely to inflict a lasting defeat on the rebels.

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2018 – Third Update

Crisis Group’s third update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on economic reforms in Libya, preserving the fragile quiet in Syria’s Idlib province, addressing the plight of civilians in eastern Ukraine, supporting Colombia's uneasy peace process and averting violence in Nigeria's upcoming elections. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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