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

Violence ran high as armed and criminal groups sought to expand territorial control ahead of “Total Peace” talks with authorities; border with Venezuela reopened after three-year closure.

Govt worked toward dialogue with armed groups. Govt pursued “Total Peace” plan aimed at reviving negotiations with National Liberation Army (ELN) and demobilising other armed groups. Notably, after high-level govt delegation visited Cuba in Aug to meet ELN negotiating team, Venezuela 13 Sept agreed to act as guarantor in possible forthcoming talks. ELN 5 Sept however raised questions about govt’s peace plan, saying it was wrong to consider talks with criminal organisations since they exercise violence for “profit and capital accumulation” rather than political objectives. Meanwhile, govt 28 Sept said at least ten armed groups, including Gulf Clan and two Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident groups, agreed to unilateral ceasefires.

Criminal and armed groups stepped up violent attacks over territorial control. Dramatic violence occurred across country, including in cities where delinquent and criminal organisations who have shown interest in peace talks operate. Notably, violence accelerated in Barranquilla city on Atlantic coast (north), key drug trafficking route where at least two criminal groups battle for territory, leaving six dead 12 Sept. Groups also launched attacks on security forces; notably, FARC dissidents 2 Sept killed seven police officers in Huila department (south). Land invasions increased during month in ten departments, with cases of poor farmers taking over private land; Ombudsman’s Office 22 Sept said most invasions were in response to expectations among communities that govt will redistribute land, though at least 13 cases have seen armed groups vying for territorial control. Partly in response to violence, govt 3 Sept established “unified command centres” in 65 municipalities to increase coordination between local authorities and security forces to maintain order and protect “social leaders, human rights defenders and peace signers”.

Shared border with Venezuela reopened after three-year closure. After govt restored diplomatic relations with Caracas late Aug, Colombia-Venezuela border 26 Sept reopened, paving way for better regional coordination to address proliferation of criminal groups.

Continue reading

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

Latest Updates

Our People

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
Elizabeth Dickinson