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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

Confrontations between armed actors and attacks against security forces and civilians ran high along border with Venezuela. In Norte de Santander department (north east), bomb attacks 8 Sept left two soldiers dead at Tibú’s airport, and next day killed woman and wounded several soldiers in department’s capital Cúcuta; confrontations between armed groups sparked mass displacement from Cúcuta’s Banco de Arena neighbourhood starting 11 Sept. Also in Norte de Santander, Gaitanista Drug Cartel (AGC) 11 Sept threatened social and union leaders who have organised local protests as part of national strike movement since April, including demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) combatants. In nearby Arauca department, bomb attack by guerrilla group National Liberation Army (ELN) 11 Sept left five soldiers dead. Conflicting reports emerged about abduction and alleged killing of colonel by FARC dissidents. Military 3 Sept claimed colonel abducted in April was killed by 10th Front of FARC dissidents in Venezuela; 28th Front of FARC dissidents 5 Sept released video of victim, accused military of making false claim to cover state’s failure to rescue him. Meanwhile in Chocó department (west), heavy fighting between ELN and AGC 13 Sept confined 250 to 300 families to their homes in Medio San Juan town. In Nariño department (south west), suspected FARC dissidents 26 Sept killed at least five in Tumaco area. Military next day said troops had killed at least ten FARC dissidents in Morichal Nuevo municipality, Guainia department (south east). NGO Peace and Reconciliation Foundation 8 Sept recorded six deaths in 29 violent incidents associated with campaigning for 2022 presidential and legislative elections 13 March-23 Aug, warned violence may increase as voting draws closer. Advocacy group Global Witness 13 Sept recorded 65 land and environmental defenders killed in Colombia in 2020, highest number worldwide. Meanwhile, lawmakers 7 Sept passed $4bn tax reform law, in final step of long-running efforts by President Duque’s govt to get fiscal reform through Congress; bill’s previous version had sparked deadly protests in April-June. On first anniversary of killing of civilian by police, hundreds 9 Sept took to streets in capital Bogotá to denounce police brutality.
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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 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. 

Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia

Coca crops have set record yields in Colombia since the 2016 peace accord with FARC guerrillas, persuading the government to expand its forced eradication campaign with the backing of U.S. authorities. Bogotá claims that eliminating the plant will reduce rural violence.

Coca and Violence in Colombia (Online Event)

Online event joining together experts on drug policy from the Washington Office on Latin America's (WOLA), field-level expertise from Corporación Viso Mutop and Crisis Group senior analysts to discuss our new report: "Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia." 

Deeply Rooted: Coca Eradication and Violence in Colombia

Coca gives Colombian small farmers a stable livelihood but also endangers their lives, as criminals battle over the drug trade and authorities try to shut it down. Bogotá and Washington should abandon their heavy-handed elimination efforts and help growers find alternatives to the hardy plant.

Also available in Español

A Refuge from Violence in a Forgotten Corner of Colombia

Throughout Colombia, social leaders are a staple of community life, providing services and defending rights that the state does not. But these activists face growing dangers from the criminals, ex-paramilitaries and self-styled guerrillas whose rackets they disrupt. This is one woman’s story.

Also available in Español

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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