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

Deteriorated Situation

Security situation in south west sharply deteriorated amid violent armed group attacks on state targets and clashes between rival FARC dissident factions.

FARC dissident violence escalated along Pacific coast. Clashes between security forces and splinter group of dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as EMC accelerated along Pacific Coast, leaving dozens dead. Argelia municipality (Cauca department) witnessed multiple clashes early May as military tried to seize control of Caño de Micay trafficking corridor. EMC 20 May launched series of coordinated assaults against state targets in south west: fronts in Cauca attacked police station in Morales town, while bomb exploded in Jamundí town (Valle de Cauca department). Security forces throughout May warned of EMC expansion into previously calm departments of Tolima and Quindío. Meanwhile, skirmishes 24 May erupted between rival EMC factions, Frente 57 and Dagoberto Ramos, in rural area of Toribío municipality (Cauca), apparently linked to Frente 57 offensive to capture Indigenous lands in Tacueyo and San Francisco. 

Peace efforts with ELN struggled as group clashed with rival outfits. Govt and ELN 25 May signed agreement in Venezuelan capital Caracas, charting roadmap for public participation in peace talks. Accord generated cautious optimism at tense moment in negotiations. Notably, ELN 6 May said it would restart kidnapping for ransom, while confrontations with other armed groups escalated, likely impacting ELN’s calculations at talks. Insurgency faced pressure from Gaitanista Army of Colombia (EGC) (previously Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) in southern Bolívar state, one of ELN’s gold mining strongholds, with UN 14 May reporting significant civilian harm due to clashes. Local front Comuneros del Sur 7 May also announced separation from ELN and participation in dialogue initiative in Nariño department as separate organisation, reflecting broader trend toward armed group fragmentation across Colombia.

EGC sought to capture Sierra Nevada mountains. EGC accelerated push to seize Sierra Nevada mountains, Magdalena Department (north), from local outlet known as ‘Los Pachenos’; control of area would provide key strategic refuge for group, and connect trafficking route from Atlantic coastline to Venezuelan border. UN 6 May said skirmishes confined 300 members of ethnic Wiwa population.

Continue reading

In The News

2 Май 2024
The closer an armed group is to the population [in Colombia], the harder it is to move toward peace, because they are ever more a part of society. Reuters

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
21 фев 2024
The trend of violence against ex-combatants [in Colombia] is a strong deterrent to disarmament. AP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
7 фев 2024
Violence in Colombia has long come from combats between illegal groups, and from the pressure they exert on civilians. AP

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
5 фев 2024
State presence [in Panama] overly focuses on border control and does not prioritise the protection of migrants. The Guardian

Bram Ebus

Consultant
9 ноя 2023
The ELN [in Colombia] has made very clear they have no intention of ceasing their economic activities which includes kidnapping. Financial Times

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
31 окт 2023
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. The Sun

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia

Latest Updates

Our People

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
Elizabeth Dickinson

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.