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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

Deteriorated Situation

Amid concerns over armed groups exploiting COVID-19 pandemic to recruit youths and extend control over territories, attacks against civilians increased, leaving dozens dead. Series of attacks targeted civilians throughout month, leaving high toll on youth, primarily in country’s south west but also in north east along Colombia-Venezuela border. Gunmen 9 Aug killed two schoolchildren in Cauca department; authorities accused Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC, one of country’s main drug trafficking groups). Unidentified gunmen 11 Aug killed five youths in Cali city, Valle del Cauca department, and 15 Aug killed eight others in Samaniego town, Nariño department; National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas 17 Aug denied responsibility for latter attack and blamed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident group Los Contadores. Armed groups 21-22 Aug killed at least 17 youths in three attacks in Arauca, Nariño and Cauca departments in one of deadliest 24 hours since 2016 peace deal between govt and FARC. Further attacks killed three in Capitan Largo, Norte de Santander department 25 Aug and three others in Antioquia department 28 Aug. Armed groups also pursued efforts to increase control over populations and territories. ELN 3-17 Aug implemented strict restrictions on movement in south of Bolívar department (north), ostensibly to control spread of COVID-19. Fighting between armed groups and restrictions imposed by them also confined over 17,000 people in their communities 21 July-17 Aug including 2,000 people from indigenous Embera community in Murindó municipality and 14,300 people in El Bagre municipality, both Antioquia department, as well as 1,270 people in Bojayá municipality, Chocó department (west). Number of COVID-19 cases 27 Aug reached 581,995, making Colombia seventh worst coronavirus-affected country globally. Controversy emerged after Supreme Court 4 Aug placed former President Uribe, head of ruling Democratic Centre party, under house arrest over suspected witness tampering in relation to allegations that Uribe helped found paramilitary group in 1990s; President Duque next day argued court had violated presumption of innocence. Duque 20 Aug said he had received information from foreign intelligence services that Venezuela was looking to acquire Iranian missiles and reiterated accusation that Caracas supports armed groups on Colombia-Venezuela border.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
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

Latest Updates

Q&A / Latin America & Caribbean

Police Killing Rouses Colombia’s Lockdown Furies

In early September, demonstrations against police brutality erupted in Colombia’s capital and other cities. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson explains that reactions to the unrest have exposed the country’s political polarisation amid anxieties about the coronavirus and the 2016 FARC peace agreement.

Also available in Español

Calming the Restless Pacific: Violence and Crime on Colombia’s Coast

Three years after the FARC peace deal, Colombia’s Pacific region has seen surges of both dissident guerrilla activity and drug-related crime. To better aid this historically neglected area, the state should expand its presence, speed up development projects and improve educational opportunities for all.

Also available in Español

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.

Our People

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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