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Colombia News Brief for April 27 – May 9, 2018

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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
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Source: Red Nacional de Mujeres via ¡Pacifista! 

Peace Accords Implementation

Santos denies Colombia’s peace process is falling apart
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, May 1, 2018

“The president said that 91% of the legislation related to the peace deal has been approved by the Constitutional Court, but ignored the fact that more than half of the bills to support the peace process are stuck in Congress. Santos neither addressed United Nations’ concerns over a registered deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Colombia nor a 9% increase in homicides reported by the defense ministry.”

Se Están Tirando La Paz
Humberto de la Calle, 29 de abril de 2018

“Se están tirando la paz. Así, en castellano. Sin hipocresía. Se están tirando la paz. Primero, Uribe y Duque vienen construyendo un tejido de falacias y de odios que fueron conduciendo a buena parte de la población a la nostalgia de la guerra. La Corte Constitucional le abrió la puerta al Congreso para traicionar y entorpecer el Acuerdo. Al Centro Democrático se unió en esa tarea Cambio Radical, con el auspicio de las vacilaciones del doctor Vargas. Las Farc tampoco han dado el paso de mostrar empatía suficiente con los colombianos”.

Tres escenarios que Colombia debe evitar para no ‘tirarse la paz’
¡PACIFISTA!, 30 de abril de 2018

“Las declaraciones de Humberto de la Calle han generado una serie de reacciones opuestas. Por un lado está el uribismo, argumentando que tanto Jesús Santrich como Iván Márquez deben ser juzgados. Por otro está De la Calle, sus seguidores  y los colectivos que defienden que a los excomandantes se les garantice el debido proceso y que pasen por la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP)”.

 [AUDIO] ¿Se puede hacer trizas la Reforma Rural?
La Silla Vacía, 29 de abril de 2018
“El foco de la discusión sobre el Acuerdo de Paz en estas elecciones se ha puesto, principalmente, en los temas de justicia. Pero, el espíritu del Acuerdo es combatir las causas estructurales que han permitido que el conflicto se haya prolongado durante todo este tiempo, entre ellas los conflictos rurales”.

Deben primero responder por sus crímenes en Colombia
José Miguel Vivanco, El Tiempo, 7 de mayo de 2018

“Tal como lo hemos dicho reiteradamente, la JEP está lejos de ser un modelo para juzgar violaciones de los derechos humanos. Al contrario, es un mecanismo débil que apenas ofrece unos mínimos de justicia. Pero extraditar a los comandantes de las Farc en este momento puede terminar por evaporar definitivamente el compromiso que el Estado asumió con miles de víctimas del conflicto armado. Un juicio en EE. UU. por narcotráfico no puede sustituir la rendición de cuentas por crímenes de guerra cometidos por las Farc en Colombia.”

Colombian civilians caught in crossfire as rebel factions fill violent vacuum
Mathew Charles, The Guardian, April 30, 2018

“In San Pablo, the streets are eerily quiet. Buildings are daubed with graffiti from both factions. Support for the guerrillas has traditionally been strong here, but now locals feel they have become targets as the rebels shift their focus from social change to criminal gain.”

ELN

Colombia, ELN rebels say peace talks will be moved to Cuba
Reuters, May 5, 2018

“Colombia and the ELN rebels said on Saturday they will move peace negotiations to end more than five decades of war to Cuba, after original host Ecuador pulled its support for the talks…Negotiations will continue to focus on agreeing a new ceasefire, the statement said. The two sides’ first-ever ceasefire ended in January and was followed by a period of increased violence and a six-week pause in talks.”

Capturan en el norte de Colombia a tres guerrilleros del ELN
EFE, La Vanguardia, 3 de mayo 2018

“Tres guerrilleros del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) fueron capturados en el municipio colombiano de Curumaní (norte), informó hoy la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC). Los hombres, quienes fueron puestos a órdenes de las autoridades, son parte presuntamente de una red de apoyo del frente Camilo Torres Restrepo, del ELN, agrega la información”.

2018 Elections

Los errores de los que deben cuidarse los candidatos
El Tiempo, 1 de mayo de 2018

“Cuando faltan apenas 25 días para la primera vuelta presidencial, los candidatos entran en un estado de extremo cuidado. Algunos expertos consideran que en este momento, cualquier error los puede castigar con pérdida de votos. Por eso van a ser muy cuidadosos con lo que digan, con lo que respondan. Van a cuidar sus votos al extremo, pues no quieren cometer errores del pasado en los que otros aspirantes a la Casa de Nariño incurrieron y que les costaron la derrota en las urnas. De esto hay unos ejemplos muy concretos en la historia reciente de las campañas en el país”.

Washington’s war on drugs is failing. Does this former guerrilla have the answer?
Jim Wyss, Miami Herald, May 1, 2018

“Drugs have played a central role in Petro’s political ascent. During his time as a crusading senator, from 2006 to 2010, he rattled the country by helping prove that drug cartels and paramilitary groups had deep ties in congress. As a result of the ‘para-politics’ scandal, more than 35 percent of Colombia’s senate ended up in jail.”

Duque is losing support in Colombia’s election race, but can Petro catch up?
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, April 26, 2018

“Yanhaas’ results were confirmed by the so-called Aggregated Electoral Preference Index (IAPE), which combines the results of multiple polls.According to the IAPE, support for Uribe’s candidate dropped to 36.3% of polled Colombians while support for the anti-corruption advocate grew to 26.1%.”

Meteoric Rise Lifts D.C. Commuter to Cusp of Colombia’s Presidency
Matthew Bristow, Bloomberg, May 3, 2018

“Investors are giving Duque the benefit of the doubt, perhaps because the Colombian stock market returned 1,700 percent in dollar terms, the most in the world, under Uribe. A survey by Nomura found that Duque is the most “market-friendly” among the leading candidates, while Petro’s election would trigger a selloff in the peso.”

¡Es hora de votar a favor de las mujeres y de la igualdad!
Diana Salcedo López, ¡PACIFISTA!, 4 de mayo de 2018

“Las mujeres debemos motivar para que quien llegue a la Casa de Nariño a gobernarnos los próximos cuatro años, tenga un compromiso político que garantice a las mujeres el ejercicio pleno de su ciudadanía y su rol de defensoras de derechos humanos, sin que eso les cueste la vida o la integridad suya y de sus familias”.

Human Rights and the Environment

No son líos de faldas, son líos de tierras: Informe de la situación de derechos humanos en el 2017
Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos y Violencia Política de Cinep, 3 de mayo 2018

“El último informe presenta que la mayor responsabilidad es atribuida a grupos paramilitares quienes utilizaron la amenaza como método de victimización con 609 casos.  Seguido por la Policía Nacional quienes implementaron acciones represivas especialmente por medio del Esmad, con un total de 540 victimizaciones, entre ellos 31 ejecuciones extrajudiciales y 134 detenciones arbitrarias… Por su parte, Luis Guillermo Guerrero enuncia tres conclusiones importantes sobre el informe: primero, que no se ha reducido la violencia, sino que han variado los métodos con que se ejerce, segundo, que el Estado y la sociedad tienen un compromiso con las víctimas que deben asumir; y tercero, que hay fuerzas políticas que están desestabilizando la implementación de los acuerdos de paz”.

Violence continues to displace Colombians
Elena Forero, Norwegian Refugee Council, April 30, 2018

“A year and a half after the historic peace agreement in Colombia was reached, whole communities are still being forcibly displaced because of violence in the country’s north-west. Four community leaders have been murdered, leaving their people in fear and forcing new leaders into hiding.”

Colombia lawmakers ask Americas rights body to protect hundreds of at-risk activists
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, May 3, 2018

“Colombian lawmakers asked the Americas’ top human rights commission to call on their government to protect 445 at-risk activists on Wednesday, as murders rise despite a peace accord. Three lawmakers filed the petition before the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which can require governments to protect activists in the firing line, for example, with bodyguards and bullet-proof vests.”

International Letter Demands Freedom for Sara Quiñonez and Tulia Maris Valencia
Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN), April 26, 2018

“Ms. Quiñonez and Ms. Valencia were forcibly displaced as a result of the threats against them. Following the murders of Genaro Garcia (2016) and Jair Cortes (2017), fellow members of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, Ms. Quiñonez was forcibly displaced with her family to another part of the country where she received protection measures from both Colombia’s own National Protection Unit and from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.”

HRW urges urgent investigation against Uribe, increased protection of witnesses
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, April 26, 2018

“Human Rights Watch has asked Colombia’s Supreme Court to proceed to an ‘urgent and exhaustive’ investigation of Alvaro Uribe after yet another witness against the former president was assassinated.”

He was linked to war crimes. Now he’s Colombia’s ambassador in Seoul.
Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, April 26, 2018

“At the time, Human Rights Watch’s executive director for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, called these killings ‘one of the worst episodes of mass atrocity in the Western Hemisphere in recent years.’ Hundreds, possibly even thousands, of civilians are believed to have been killed. Rodríguez allegedly played a key role, commanding the Colombian army’s 4th Brigade from 2006 to 2008.”

Van tres meses del asesinato de ‘Don Temis’ y las dudas persisten
¡PACIFISTA!, 30 de abril de 2018

“Todos los vecinos coinciden en una idea: nadie conocía tan bien los problemas de la Comuna 6 como Temístocles Machado, nadie tenía la capacidad de interlocución con las instituciones como él lo hacía – por ejemplo, durante las negociaciones del Paro Cívico–, nadie sabía sortear los procesos de restitución de tierras ni convencer a la comunidad para unirse frente a un problema. De ahí a que en estos tres meses no exista una cara visible en el barrio. También se siente, como nos comentaba Eduardo, un miedo profundo a hablar públicamente”

Colombia: Environmental Defender Killed, Others at Risk: Hugo Albeiro George Pérez
Amnesty International, May 7, 2018

“A member of the Ríos Vivos (Living Rivers) Movement was killed on 2 May, the same day that the group carried out an all-day march against the Hidroituango hydroelectric project in Antioquia, Colombia. Members of the movement fear further reprisals.”

In the Colombian Amazon, peace has environmental consequences
Gena Steffens, Public Radio International, May 3, 2018

“‘Without real knowledge of this region’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, we’re bound to commit enormously profound errors. It is of utmost importance that we study all forms of biodiversity — including the cultural diversity of this region’s indigenous inhabitants — in order to truly determine the potential impacts of future social and economic development in this region.’ Though land restitution is a main pillar of the 2016 peace accords, some are worried that a lack in rigorous land use planning will cause secondary booms in deforestation in environmentally sensitive areas as millions of displaced Colombians return to convert long-abandoned areas into productive agricultural land.”

Venezuelan Humanitarian Crisis

Over 200,000 undocumented Venezuelan migrants register in Colombia
Reuters, May 7, 2018

“Over 200,000 Venezuelans have registered with Colombian authorities in the first few weeks of a count meant to assess how many undocumented migrants have fled to the Andean country, the Colombian government said on Monday.”

UN Turning To Private Donors To Help Fill Aid Gap For Venezuelan Refugees
Tim Padgett, WLRN, May 6, 2018

“Last month, the U.N.’s refugee agency called on international donor countries to provide almost $50 million for the Venezuelan refugees. Only about a third of it has been raised so far… ‘We need more resources, definitely,’ Jozef Merkx, Colombia representative for the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), told WLRN in Bogotá.”

UN to issue food vouchers to Venezuelan migrants in Colombia
Associated Press, The Washington Post, April 26, 2018

“The World Food Program will begin distributing vouchers to droves of hungry Venezuelan migrants arriving in neighboring Colombia as part of a program similar to that offered to refugees from war-torn nations like Syria.”

Colombia aid groups under strain as Venezuela crisis spills over
Joe Parkin Daniels, Devex, April 27, 2018

“Colombian border authorities do not know exactly how many are crossing each day, but they say 20,000 would be a conservative estimate. These people are fleeing Venezuela, a country that is oil rich but mired in economic and political crisis. Some cross temporarily to find work, food, or medicine; others choose to stay.”

NPR Weekend Edition Interview: Venezuelans Fleeing to Brazil and Colombia
Geoff Ramsey, WOLA, April 29, 2018

“…The situation faced by Venezuelans who flee to neighboring countries is dire. In most cases, the people seeking economic opportunities on the Colombian and Brazilian borders are people who lack the resources to travel further, and are generally from low and middle income backgrounds.”

Counternarcotics

Colombian Police Thwart Trafficking Ring Selling Expired Drugs
TeleSUR, April 27, 2018

“National police made a series of arrests in Medellin and Ipiales and seized the tampered medication along with approximately US$71,000 of illicit profits. Investigators discovered almost two tons of medication, including antibiotics, contraceptives and baby formula, along with antihypertensive, pneumatic and cancer medication.”

Southwest Colombia marches against state neglect and drug violence
Jarrod Demir, Colombia Reports, April 28, 2018

“Tumaco has seen a spike in crime in recent times, with armed groups streaming in to seize control over the city’s neighborhoods and coca-rich rural areas following the demobilization of the FARC. It is estimated that Tumaco is home to 15% of the total coca grown in Colombia, more than any other municipality in the country. The military said it deployed 2,000 soldiers in the municipality in December, but has since failed to report results, according to the locals.”

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* 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.