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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

Improved Situation

Despite tense electoral atmosphere, all parties recognised presidential victory of Gustavo Petro, paving way for peaceful transfer of power 7 August; Truth Commission published long awaited report on decades-long conflict. In second round of presidential elections held 19 June, left-leaning candidate and former guerrilla Gustavo Petro won with 50.4 per cent of vote, defeating populist and businessman Rodolfo Hernández; victory marks first time leftist candidate has won presidential elections in recent history. Hernández and former president Iván Duque immediately recognised result, paving way for peaceful transfer of power on 7 August. U.S. Sec of State Antony Blinken and UN Sec Gen António Guterres 20 June welcomed “strength” of Colombian democracy. National Liberation Army same day signalled willingness to advance talks with incoming govt. Petro 22 June announced he had spoken with Venezuelan govt “to open the borders and restore the full exercise of human rights at the border”. Amid fears of violence and concern about possible Petro victory, military 19 June deployed 320,000 troops to polling stations and other key infrastructure on election day, 20,000 more than in previous elections; Ombudsman’s office same day said elections proceeded “normally” notwithstanding “isolated incidents against security forces” in Caquetá (south) and Norte de Santander (north east) departments. Petro 14 June issued open letter to security forces in bid to win support among rank-and-file, notably suggesting improvements to social benefits and promotion opportunities; largest associations of retired military officers rejected proposals. Head of army Gen Eduardo Zapateiro 28 June announced resignation. Authorities 10 June confirmed death of Ricardo Abel Ayala Orrego, alias Cabuyo, head of 36th Front of dissidences of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Antioquia department (north west), bringing number of dissident leaders killed in 2022 to five. Meanwhile, unknown assailants 27 June killed environmental leader and member of leftist coalition Pacto Histórico Juan David Ochoa in Granada municipality, Antioquia department (north west). Truth Commission 28 June published long-awaited report on conflict between authorities and FARC, said at least 450,664 people killed and 121,768 people disappeared between 1985-2018; recommended revised approach to drug policy, end to aerial fumigations that eradicate coca plants, and reforms to military.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
30 Nov 2021
Today, the commitment of ex-combatants [of FARC] to remaining in civilian life is visible across Colombia and deserves the full support of the international community. Washington Post

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Global

EU Watch List: 10 Cases Where the EU can Build Peace in 2022 (Online Event, 28th January 2022)

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.

Tackling Colombia’s Next Generation in Arms

Armed conflict in Colombia is escalating in rural areas, with some communities reporting higher levels of violence or coercion than before the peace agreement. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to encourage the implementation of the 2016 peace accord and help Colombia find substitutes for the coca crop.

Also available in Español

A Fight by Other Means: Keeping the Peace with Colombia’s FARC

Colombia’s 2016 peace deal was a landmark achievement, convincing the FARC guerrillas to disarm and enter civilian life. Yet much remains to be done to show insurgents that they can redress their grievances through ordinary politics. The country’s leaders should recommit to finishing the job.

Also available in Español

VIDEO | A Broken Canopy: Deforestation and Conflict in Colombia

Bram Ebus, Crisis Group consultant for the Andes, investigates how deforestation in Colombia is often linked to conflict.

Also available in Español

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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