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

New govt took steps to revive talks with ELN and other armed and criminal groups; Colombia and Venezuela restored diplomatic relations. President Petro 7 Aug took office, becoming first left-leaning president in country’s recent history. During inauguration speech, Petro promised to complete implementation of 2016 peace agreement with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); also called on armed and criminal groups to lay down their weapons, referring to govt’s “Total Peace” plan aimed at reviving negotiations with National Liberation Army (ELN) and demobilising other armed groups. Following this appeal, Petro 11 Aug sent high-level delegation to Cuba, where ELN negotiating team has remained in exile since talks broke down in 2019. Govt’s negotiating commission 12 Aug said it would “recognise the legitimacy of the rebel negotiators” and reinstate protocols signed in 2016, including protections for negotiators and roles for guarantor states Norway and Cuba; commission added that ELN said it will take “necessary steps to restart talks”. Petro 19 Aug suspended arrest and extradition warrants of ELN negotiators; defence ministry 25 Aug announced govt will suspend aerial bombing of armed groups; Petro 27 Aug proposed multilateral ceasefire to armed groups throughout country; interior minister 30 Aug submitted bill to Congress laying out peace initiative to pave way for negotiations with armed groups. In ELN’s stronghold Arauca department (north east), group 12 Aug announced release of nine individuals held captive; 18 Aug released six military personnel. Criminal organisation Gulf Clan 7 Aug announced unilateral ceasefire, expressed “goodwill to take part in exploratory talks”. Govt 12 Aug announced new military and police leadership, sending around 50 generals into retirement; reaction from military, broadly sceptical of president, was muted. Meanwhile, in Cauca department (south west), unknown assailants 28 Aug killed three members of indigenous community in Caldono municipality; suspected FARC dissidents 31 Aug kidnapped at least five minors, killed another near Argelia town. After incoming administration and Venezuela late-July agreed to reestablish relations, Petro 28 Aug sent new ambassador, Armando Benedetti, to Caracas, reversing outgoing President Duque’s confrontational policy toward Venezuela; Venezuelan President Maduro same day sent former FM Félix Plasencia as Venezuela's representative in Bogotá.

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In The News

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
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

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
Elizabeth Dickinson