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.
The Darién – a patch of dense jungle on the strip of land connecting Colombia and Panama – is one of the most treacherous routes in the Americas. In this multimedia commentary, Bram Ebus follows the journey of Yeimy, a Venezuelan migrant, and her sons.
Govt’s landmark ceasefire with National Liberation Army (ELN) took effect, marking important step forward in President Petro’s “total peace” efforts; govt announced negotiations with FARC dissidents will begin in Sept.
Bilateral ceasefire with ELN commenced. 180-day ceasefire between ELN and state security forces — longest bilateral ceasefire ever concluded with guerrilla group – 3 Aug got under way, marked by ceremony in capital Bogotá. Parties same day inaugurated public participation mechanism with 81 national delegates who are meant to organise several dozen regional consultations; purpose of consultations unclear. Govt and ELN negotiators 14 Aug began fourth round of talks in Venezuelan capital Caracas. Despite progress, Attorney General Francisco Barbosa 8 Aug alleged guerrillas planned to assassinate him, which ELN next day denied. UN Security Council 2 Aug expanded UN mission mandate to include monitoring of ELN ceasefire and expressed willingness to consider covering potential future agreement with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents.
String of attacks by FARC dissident faction threatened progress toward talks. Petro administration 12 Aug announced it would begin formal peace negotiations with dissident FARC faction known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor Central (FARC-EMC) on 17 Sept, likely in Caquetá department (south). Group launched series of attacks in Cauca department (west). Notably, FARC-EMC 12 Aug killed three police officers in Morales town; several car bombs 13 Aug killed police officer in Buenos Aires town; local Indigenous communities reported at least five assassinations 12-13 Aug; and attack 24 Aug on police station in Santander de Quilichao town wounded four. Attacks follow 1 Aug video circulated by group naming ceasefire with military as first priority in talks and saying it would not consider wider cessation of hostilities; Petro 14 Aug stated that govt would seek cessation of hostilities against civilian population before agreeing to ceasefire.
In other important developments. Official campaigning for Oct local elections began amid concerns poll may escalate political tensions in conflict-affected regions as armed and criminal groups seek to assert influence. Petro’s son, charged with money laundering, 3 Aug reportedly said some of these dubious funds financed president’s 2022 election campaign.
None of the armed groups [in Colombia] will give up anything significant unless they are under military pressure.
Indigenous communities have suffered disproportionately from targeted violence, displacement and massacres throughout Colombia’s conflict.
El evento explora los principios de la "paz total" y explica el papel de la comunidad internacional para ayudar a Colombia a abordar la violencia que afecta a la sociedad.
The new Colombian government has resolved to curb violence throughout rural areas where guerrillas and criminals hold sway. Its approach – dialogue and security reform – is admirable but risky. Any deal it strikes should seek to halt all the types of coercion the illicit groups employ.
After a three-year diplomatic conflict between Colombia and Venezuela, Bogotá and Caracas are now resuming relations. Starting in 2019, this timeline presents the events that led to the rupture and the significant steps taken toward rebuilding ties between the two states.
As part of his commitment to bringing “total peace” to Colombia, President Gustavo Petro has inaugurated new talks with the country’s last leftist insurgency. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Elizabeth Dickinson explains why this round of negotiations could differ from failed past attempts.
Colombia’s new president, Gustavo Petro, says he will work to bring “total peace” to the countryside, including areas roiled by violent competition among criminal and other armed groups. This task will require significant changes to military approaches devised for fighting the insurgencies of the past.
Launch event of Crisis Group’s report Trapped in Conflict: Reforming Military Strategy to Save Lives in Colombia, based on extensive fieldwork in different regions of Colombia and dozens of interviews with the military and communities. It was held in Bogotá on Tuesday 27 September 2022 at 8:30 am. In the report, Crisis Group analyses why military strategy in Colombia’s rural areas has failed to contain the conflicts that arose following the 2016 peace accord with its largest guerrilla movement (FARC). Crisis Group also proposes new civilian government leaders to prioritise community protection in rural areas and embrace new indicators for gauging the military’s success. The panel was composed of Martha Maya, Latin America Program Director at the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFI), Elizabeth Dickinson, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Colombia, and Ivan Briscoe, Crisis Group's Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Alberto Lara Losada couldn't attend.
Crisis Group experts talk in this Twitter Space about what can be done to better protect Venezuelan migrants fleeing to Colombia from exploitation by criminal armed groups. The discussion was hosted by Bram Ebus, consultant for Latin America, Mariano de Alba, our senior advocacy advisor for Latin America and Glaeldys González, Giustra fellow for Latin America.
In recent years, Venezuelans have streamed into Colombia looking for work and respite from their country’s socio-economic meltdown. But dangers also await them, including the clutches of organised crime. Bogotá’s change of government is a chance to reset policy to keep the migrants safer.
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