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.
Organised crime has infiltrated the Amazon basin, seeking land for growing coca, rivers for drug trafficking and veins of gold underground. These groups are endangering the rainforest and the safety of those attempting to defend it. It is imperative that regional governments take protective measures.
Govt renewed ceasefire with FARC dissident faction and resumed talks with ELN, with latter discussions focused on continuation of six-month ceasefire; confrontations between armed groups persisted.
Govt renewed ceasefire with FARC dissident group. Providing important continuity for Petro’s “total peace” policy, govt and dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor Central (FARC-EMC) 14 Jan agreed on six-month extension of bilateral ceasefire. During negotiations in capital Bogotá, parties reiterated commitments to protect civilians, release kidnapped persons and end kidnap-for-ransom, work toward environmental protection, increase community participation in talks and create joint agenda, though specifics remained unclear. In further positive step, govt and rebels 4 Jan inaugurated joint monitoring mechanism that will eventually have national as well as regional chapters, and is intended to receive information about possible ceasefire infractions and prevent or de-escalate clashes.
Govt and ELN resumed talks but did not agree on six-month ceasefire renewal. Govt negotiations with National Liberation Army (ELN) 22 Jan resumed in Cuban capital Havana; group said it would end kidnappings if ceasefire is renewed, but conditioned on govt filling gap in financing that lack of ransom payments would incur for rebels; sides 29 Jan said they would extend bilateral ceasefire for seven days while they determine if and under what terms to continue truce for another six months. UN 11 Jan presented report to Security Council detailing 170 possible incidents of ceasefire violation from both sides since 30 Nov, though none officially adjudicated. Meanwhile, govt and country’s largest armed organisation, Gaitanista Self Defense Forces, 21 Jan expressed willingness to enter dialogue, though lack of mutual trust could hinder prospects for talks.
Armed violence between rival groups continued in several regions. ELN and FARC dissident group Segunda Marquetalia 13 Jan announced alliance in Nariño department in apparent attempt to stem advance of FARC-EMC; fighting between these groups in south west displaced at least 3,000 people in first two weeks of Jan. ELN mid Jan clashed with Jaime Martínez faction of FARC-EMC on southern outskirts of Colombia’s largest port city, Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca department, displacing and confining hundreds. Fighting between Gaitanistas and ELN in Chocó confined 9,000 families.
The trend of violence against ex-combatants [in Colombia] is a strong deterrent to disarmament.
Violence in Colombia has long come from combats between illegal groups, and from the pressure they exert on civilians.
State presence [in Panama] overly focuses on border control and does not prioritise the protection of migrants.
The ELN [in Colombia] has made very clear they have no intention of ceasing their economic activities which includes kidnapping.
By the time the Colombian state signed a peace accord with the former FARC rebels [in 2016], kidnapping nearly disappeared … But in recent years that trend has reversed.
None of the armed groups [in Colombia] will give up anything significant unless they are under military pressure.
In this video, personal narratives from migrants, smugglers, and locals shed light on the perilous journey through the Darién Gap, a treacherous migration route between Central and South America marked by criminal control.
Migrants from far and wide are trekking northward through the Darién Gap, a dense jungle where they face dangers including criminal predation. Steps to improve law enforcement, ease crises in countries of origin and provide more humanitarian aid would push policy in the right direction.
Despite peace talks between the government and armed groups, levels of violence in Colombia remain high. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group outlines how the EU can promote negotiations and encourage inclusiveness therein.
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.
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.
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