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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

Authorities apprehended most wanted crime lord while rural violence persisted, particularly in key trafficking routes including Pacific coast, Bajo Cauca and Venezuelan border. Authorities 23 Oct arrested leader of country’s largest criminal organisation, alias Otoniel, in joint army, air force and police operation in Antioquia department; President Duque hailed capture as “biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century”. Fierce fighting involving armed groups and military sparked mass displacements along Pacific coast, including of over 230 people from indigenous reserve in Nariño department mid-Oct, and of over 400 in Cauca department around 20 Oct as military engaged in heavy fighting against Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents and National Liberation Army. UN also reported inter-urban displacement accelerated in Oct in Buenaventura port city, Valle del Cauca department, due to armed group competition for territorial control. Social leaders in Antioquia and Córdoba departments throughout month reported increasing threats from Gulf Clan, one of country’s main criminal organisations, and other armed groups. Attacks on social leaders continued at high level. Notably, unidentified assailants 1 and 7 Oct killed three activists in Putumayo department; 6 Oct attacked teenage son of spokesperson of national coca growers’ union in Córdoba department. String of attacks on security forces late Sept-early Oct left several dead across country, including two police in Santander de Quilichao municipality, Cauca department, 9 Oct. Violence against former FARC members persisted with at least two killed in Cauca department week of 9-15 Oct. Govt 6 Oct said it deployed 14,000-strong military unit to Norte de Santander department near border with Venezuela; move came one day after Caracas reopened land border with Colombia after two-year closure. Constitutional Court 1 Oct extended mandate of Truth Commission, created by 2016 peace accord, for another nine months; Commission had been set to finish its work in Nov, but has yet to deliver its final report. International Criminal Court 28 Oct said it had shelved preliminary probe into crimes committed during Colombia’s nearly six-decade civil war, saying it would leave investigations to domestic institutions.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

29 May 2021
There is no armed or military solution to this crisis [in Colombia]. But agendas on all sides are increasingly tempted to look for one. Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
6 May 2021
There is no way you could credibly claim that any armed or criminal group is motivating or coercing protesters to the street [in Colombia]. Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
26 Apr 2021
There’s a lot of work to be done to fix social cohesion [in Colombia] because violence is at times the default answer, which is a legacy of so many years of conflict. The Telegraph

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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

Latest Updates

The Pandemic Strikes: Responding to Colombia’s Mass Protests

In Colombia’s history of protest, the 2021 mobilisations against inequality and police brutality stand out for their breadth and intensity. Unrest has quieted for now but could soon return. The government should urgently reform the security sector while working to narrow the country’s socio-economic chasms.

Also available in Español

COVID-19, Inequality and Protests in Colombia

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group experts Renata Segura and Beth Dickinson about protests across Colombia, the inequality and police violence that are motivating people to take to the streets, and prospects for reform.

Pandemic Gloom and Police Violence Leave Colombia in Turmoil

Colombia’s cities, towns and countryside are aflame with popular protests. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson traces the unrest’s origins to inequality, police impunity and the government’s seeming aloofness from the street.

Also available in Español

A Rebel Playing Field: Colombian Guerrillas on the Venezuelan Border

In the jungle along the Colombian-Venezuelan frontier, guerrillas, criminals and shadowy state elements jostle for illicit profits. Venezuela’s campaign against one armed group has raised tensions. Bogotá and Caracas should temper their war of words and work to forestall an inadvertent bilateral escalation.

Also available in Español

The War on Drugs in Colombia’s Countryside

This week, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Beth Dickinson, Crisis Group’s Colombia expert, about the violence in Colombia’s countryside over coca production and why the government’s forced eradication of coca is making things worse. 

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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