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

FARC dissident group known as EMC fractured, plunging negotiations with govt into uncertainty and raising risk of stepped-up hostilities; civilians continued to bear brunt of worsening conflict.

FARC dissident group splintered. Peace efforts with dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as EMC were thrown into disarray early April when over half the group’s regional factions withdrew from talks. Internal frictions had surfaced in March after govt partially cancelled bilateral ceasefire with group in three departments along Pacific Coast; many fighters, including leader Iván Mordisco, agreed ceasefire needed to be national for talks to continue, but group’s second-in-command 5 April returned to negotiating table alongside representatives from Caquetá, Catatumbo and Magdelena Medio regions. Govt’s lead negotiator Camilo Gonzalez 16 April said military would resume operations against all blocs outside talks, including most economically powerful and belligerent blocs from Pacific Coast and southern Amazon region; EMC’s split likely to have unanticipated impacts on civilians caught in crossfire between military and EMC, and between rival dissident factions.

Talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) remained stalled. ELN negotiators 6 April said talks with govt were “frozen”, citing disagreements over latter’s decision to open regional peace dialogue in Nariño department with group’s local front, Comuneros del Sur. ELN central command argues all political dialogue must take place on national level, though Commander of Comuneros del Sur 27 April said many within ELN do not feel represented by national leadership in talks. Following emergency meeting in Venezuelan capital Caracas beginning 13 April, govt’s lead negotiator Vera Grabe 22 April confirmed new round of talks would take place 20-25 May. Meanwhile, govt continued with plans to open Nariño dialogue. 

Violence continued at high levels. Notably, ongoing clashes between ELN and EMC’s Fronts 28 and 10 in Arauca department (east) forcibly confined dozens of families. Humanitarian organisations early April reported mass displacements around Argelia municipality (Cauca department) and Telembi Triangle area (Nariño) due to fighting between EMC and rival armed groups. New FARC dissident faction known as Frente 57 extended an ongoing incursion into Toribío town (Cauca) and nearby indigenous reserves in apparent challenge to EMC control.  

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In The News

2 maj 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 feb 2024
The trend of violence against ex-combatants [in Colombia] is a strong deterrent to disarmament. AP

Elizabeth Dickinson

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

Bram Ebus

Consultant
9 nov 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 okt 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

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
Elizabeth Dickinson

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