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Colombia News Brief for April 25 – May 1, 2017

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Welcome to LAWG’s Colombia News Brief, a compilation of the last week’s top articles and reports on issues of peace, justice, human rights, and more in Colombia. Throughout the month of May, dependent on the capacity of LAWG, the Colombia News Brief will be sent out either weekly or bi-weekly.

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FARC member Victoria Sandino and the Colombian Post-Conflict Minister, Rafael Pardo. Source: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda (EFE) 

Politics of Peace

 Colombia’s Guerrillas Come Out of the Jungle
Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, May 1, 2017

“By the terms of the peace treaty, which he had helped negotiate, some seven thousand farc fighters will submit to a process of transitional justice. In exchange for full confessions and reparations to victims, those who committed war crimes will receive “restorative sanctions,” which offer the possibility of community work rather than prison. The farc will become a political party, and, before long, former guerrillas will be able to run for public office.”

•  Who Fights Colombia’s Wars?
Kieran Duffy, Jacobin, April 25, 2017

“In the aftermath of last October’s plebiscite, in which an initial draft of the peace agreement was rejected, many electoral maps showed that the remote rural areas which saw the heaviest fighting were the most likely to vote “yes.” Many who voted “no” did so without having to live with the potential consequences. But there isn’t just a gap between urban and rural Colombians. The nature of the country’s military service also means the working class, wherever they might live, are the ones who suffer most in the war.”

•  Primeros reparos al proyecto que reforma la ley de tierras
El Tiempo, 19 de abril 2017

“El Ministerio de Agricultura radicará en el Congreso una de las más ambiciosas reformas para garantizar el acceso a la tierra para los campesinos y las víctimas de más de 40 años de conflicto armado.”

•  Los militares tienen a Santos bajo chantaje: Myles Frechette
Jorge Gómez Pinilla, El Espectador, 28 de abril de 2017
“Exembajador de EE. UU. en Colombia en la época de Samper, dice que Acore es quien presiona para que a los militares no se les dé el mismo tratamiento que a la guerrilla en la JEP.”

•  Buscan salida para que regiones en Colombia no veten la minería
Reuters, El Tiempo, 25 de abril de 2017

“El Gobierno presentará al Congreso un proyecto de ley para evitar los choques entre autoridades nacionales y locales por proyectos petroleros y mineros e impedir que las consultas populares los prohíban, dijo el ministro de Minas y Energía, Germán Arce.”

•  Demobilized FARC guerrillas assassinated in southwest Colombia
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, April 27, 2017

“Two demobilized FARC member have been assassinated in southwest Colombia in the past 10 days, sparking fears of a repetition of the mass killing of leftists that cost thousands of lives after a 1985 peace deal.”

 FARC Dissidence Could Grow Amid Missteps in Peace Deal Implementation
Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, April 28, 2017

“A statement apparently authored by dissident fronts of Colombia’s FARC suggests some guerrillas remain committed to continuing the group’s armed political struggle in spite of a recent peace agreement with the government — or perhaps more accurately, because of issues with its implementation.”

•  Cumbre en La Habana: FARC y ELN se reúnen a hablar de paz
Semana, 28 de abril de 2017

“Las dos principales guerrillas izquierdistas de Colombia empiezan a mirar en el horizonte un escenario sin conflicto armado. Al menos esa fue la sensación que quedó con el comunicado que expidió este viernes en la noche el Gobierno y en el que autoriza el histórico encuentro entre las FARC y el ELN en Cuba.”

•  Colombia Army Says Powerful ELN Bloc Opposed to Peace
Mimi Yagoub, InSight Crime, April 28, 2017

“Colombia’s government has admitted that a key ELN faction is opposed to the peace process. But while this singles out the most overtly rebellious front, there are many other red flags that may put the insurgency’s new peace talks in jeopardy.”

•  Colombia’s ELN Loses Kidnap Victim in Jungle Escape
BBC News, April 23, 2017

“Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, says a Russian-Armenian wildlife trafficker whom they had been holding for ransom has escaped.”

•  The impact of Venezuela’s collapse on Colombia
Evan Ellis, Latin America Goes Global, April 24, 2017

“As the economic and political chaos in Venezuela deepens, the Colombians in the security sector I spoke to had two principal concerns. The first of these is a possible destabilizing surge of refugees from Venezuela, and associated criminal violence in areas of Colombia currently wrestling with delicate mixture of criminal bands and active and demobilizing terrorists. The second is the possibility of military aggression from Venezuela as a collapsing Venezuelan regime faces its final days and seeks to rally public support and a distraction.”

Drug Policy

•  El glifosato casi extingue a una comunidad en Guaviare: Corte
Semana, 26 de abril de 2017

“La Corte Constitucional acaba de argumentar, mediante un fallo, que el glifosato afecta, de manera grave, la salud humana.  “La Corte ha podido advertir que el glifosato es una sustancia que tiene la potencialidad de afectar la salud humana como probable agente cancerígeno y, también, de forma muy peligrosa, el medio ambiente”.”

•  ¿Por qué Colombia no debe reanudar la fumigación aérea con glifosato?
Verónica Muriel Carrioni, Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente, 21 de abril de 2017

“Hasta no contar con estudios científicos objetivos, independientes e integrales que demuestren que el programa de fumigaciones es seguro, dicha actividad no puede ser reactivada. Los estudios deberán tener en cuenta las características específicas del programa y las condiciones ambientales y sociales de los lugares afectados. Asimismo, se deberá considerar los impactos ambientales acumulativos.”

•  Coca Cultivation in Colombia from a Gender Perspective
Raquel Gómez Fernández, Washington Office on Latin America, April 28, 2017

“The economic vulnerabilities faced by women involved in growing coca in Colombia are rarely taken into account in the design of drug policies or programs intended to reduce the quantity of coca cultivated for the production of cocaine. Coca cultivation in remote, rural areas of Colombia often involves the entire family. Women tend to be involved in planting, harvesting, and transferring seeds and inputs for production. For the most part, women engage in these activities to obtain a subsistence-level income; it is a means of putting food on the table for their children. These women “suffer the worst consequences of the lack of access to property rights, low incomes from rural activities, or unpaid work.””

•  Why is coca production on the rise in Colombia?
Ross Eventon, Al Jazeera, April 28, 2017

“Where does this excess capacity come from? Why are so many farmers in Colombia prepared to break the law? The answers are not mysterious.”

Human Rights Issues

•  Colombia: Alarma la muerte de 41 defensores de derechos humanos en cuatro meses
ONU, 1 de mayo de 2017

“El Alto Comisionado de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos llamó la atención hoy sobre el riesgo que corren los defensores de esas garantías en muchos lugares del mundo y se refirió en particular al caso de Colombia, donde se han reportado decenas de asesinatos en lo que va del año.”

•  Colombia: Activists at Risk
Human Rights Watch, April 24, 2017

“The Colombian government should redouble its efforts to protect rights defenders and community activists and to investigate killings of activists in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. “The peace process poses an invaluable opportunity to reinstate the rule of law in areas long battered by violence and abuses,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “But peace and rights are unlikely to flourish if abuses dissuade rights defenders from playing their indispensable role.””

•  Grave Aumento de Asesinatos de Quienes Defienden los Derechos Humanos en Colombia
PBI Colombia y Oidhaco, Marzo 21, 2017

“El presente documento tiene como propósito exponer las consecuencias de la actual ola de violencia en contra de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos y líderes y lideresas sociales. Ésta corre en paralelo al avance del Proceso de Paz entre el gobierno colombiano y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), culminado en la firma de un acuerdo el 24 de noviembre de 2016. Por medio de análisis y de casos concretos, el documento pretende, asimismo, dar muestra del accionar de los grupos neoparamilitares, y de la amenaza que representan para las personas defensoras de derechos humanos y la construcción de una paz duradera.”

•  Colombia Violence Spirals on Despite Peace: Yet Another Social Leader Killed in Cauca
TeleSUR, April 27, 2017

“Diego Fernando Rodriguez, a legal representative for a local community council in the Gana Plata area in Cauca’s Mercaderes municipality, was found dead Thursday morning with stab wounds.”

•  The New Chiquita Papers: Secret Testimony and Internal Records Identify Banana Executives who Bankrolled Terror in Colombia
Michael Evans, National Security Archive, April 24, 2017

“As Colombian authorities now prepare to prosecute business executives for funding groups responsible for major atrocities during Colombia’s decades-old conflict, a new set of Chiquita Papers, made possible through the National Security Archive’s FOIA lawsuit, has for the first time made it possible to know the identities and understand the roles of the individual Chiquita executives who approved and oversaw years of payments to groups responsible for countless human rights violations in Colombia.”

 *The Colombia News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.