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Colombia News Brief for August 25 – September 1, 2019

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Welcome to LAWG’s Colombia News Brief, a compilation of top articles and reports on issues of peace, justice, human rights, and more in Colombia.

Source: Federico Ríos / The New York Times

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

FARC dissidents and ELN guerrillas fared well under Duque: think tank
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, September 1, 2019

“Dissident FARC groups and ELN guerrillas have made considerable territorial expansions throughout Colombia during President Ivan Duque‘s first year in office, according to a think tank. The report of the Paz y Reconciliacion Foundation (Pares) was released on Wednesday, one day before the FARC’s political chief, ‘Ivan Marquez,’ called to rearm. According to Pares, the number of municipalities with activity of FARC dissidents or rearmed guerrillas went from 58 to 85 between October 2018 and August this year. The ELN guerrilla group expanded its territorial activity from 101 to 136 municipalities.”

El complejo panorama electoral para FARC con realzados en armas
Javier González Penagos, El Espectador, 31 de agosto de 2019

“El anuncio de un grupo de disidentes de las Farc, en cabeza de Iván Márquez, de alzarse una vez más en armas para dar continuidad a su lucha subversiva, no solo implica el mayor desafío al Acuerdo de Paz, sino que pone en jaque las aspiraciones políticas y la propia seguridad de aquellos reinsertados que —en cumplimiento de lo acordado y fieles al espíritu de paz— apostaron por la democracia como escenario de contienda de cara a las elecciones de octubre.”

Ex-FARC’s Leader Call to Arms Is Bad News for Colombians
Alexander L. Fattal, The New York Times, August 30, 2019

“A return to violence would be the culmination of many factors, chiefly a lack of political support in Washington and Bogotá for the 2016 peace accord since Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States in 2017, and Iván Duque came to power as Colombia’s president in 2018. Both leaders, through acts and omissions, have undermined the pact’s prospects for success.”

El estado colombiano debe garantizar los derechos de las víctimas del conflicto armado
Amnistía Internacional, 30 de agosto de 2019

“Amnistía Internacional ha tomado conocimiento de las declaraciones efectuadas por antiguos integrantes de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) en las que manifiestan su intención de recurrir nuevamente al uso de la fuerza armada. La organización recuerda que todo grupo de oposición armada está obligado a respetar la vida de los civiles y que debe abstenerse de tomar rehenes. Además, de generarse una situación de conflicto armado, todas las partes en el mismo deben respetar escrupulosamente el derecho internacional humanitario.”

Uribe calls to revoke FARC peace deal and is met with fierce resistance
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, August 29, 2019

Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe called to revoke the 2016 peace deal with FARC guerrillas on Thursday, spurring fierce reactions from opinion leaders who support the peace process. Uribe, who has been a bitter opponent of the peace process since before talks began, used the call to arms of the FARC’s former peace negotiator, ‘Ivan Marquez,’ to claim ‘there was no peace, but pardon for those responsible for heinous crimes at a high institutional cost.’”

FARC leader rejects former peace negotiator’s call to arms, reiterates commitment to peace
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, August 29, 2019

“FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, a.k.a. ‘Timochenko,’ on Thursday called on President Ivan Duque to jointly express their support for Colombia’s peace process after his former peace negotiator rearmed. In an interview with W Radio, Londoño said that more than 90% of the 13,000 FARC guerrillas who demobilized in 2017 continue to take part in the peace process, despite a call to rearm by his former number two, ‘Ivan Marquez,’ and Congressman  ‘Jesus Santrich.’”

Colombia‘s Duque seeks arrest of rearmed ex-FARC leaders
Steven Grattan, Al Jazeera, August 29, 2019

“Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Thursday he would send an army unit to find the former FARC rebels who said they were taking up arms again. ‘I have ordered the creation of a special unit for the persecution of these criminals with reinforced intelligence, investigation and mobility capabilities throughout Colombian territory,’ Duque said. The announcement came less than 24 hours after Ivan Marquez, a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said in a video that he was taking up arms again in a ‘new phase of armed struggle’ in the country.”

McGovern Condemns News That Some FARC Dissidents Will Return to Arms
Jim McGovern, August 29, 2019

“Peace is the only path forward for Colombia. I am deeply disappointed that some misguided FARC dissident leaders have decided to return to arms. Their decision will only cause more death and destruction in a country that has suffered the consequences of war for more than five decades.”

El proceso de paz continúa
La Línea Del Medio, 29 de agosto de 2019
“Rechazamos el incumplimiento del Acuerdo Final por parte de Iván Márquez y el grupo de quienes han salido del proceso. Nuestra opción es y será la de continuar defendiendo la paz. Ninguna justificación, ninguna excusa, ninguna palabra puede considerarse válida para la conformación de grupos que empleen la violencia armada y quieran devolvernos a la guerra.”

UN Verification Mission in Colombia
United Nations, August 29, 2019

“The UN Verification Mission in Colombia strongly rejects and condemns the  announcement by a small group of former FARC-EP combatants that they have taken up arms again. The Mission highlights the firm commitment of the vast majority of men and women in the reintegration process who continue to comply with the Agreement and encourages them to persist in their commitment to peace.”

As Colombia peace accord unravels, ex-FARC leaders take up arms, announce return to conflict
Dylan Baddour, The Washington Post, August 29, 2019

“Former senior leaders of Colombia’s largest guerrilla group announced a break with the 2016 peace accord that ended Latin America’s longest war, appearing in green fatigues, toting rifles and declaring a ‘new chapter’ in the armed struggle against a government they said had betrayed the deal.In a video posted online early Thursday, the former lead negotiator for the FARC — the leftist guerrilla group that became a political party in the aftermath of the deal — denounced the failure of the government, led by conservative President Iván Duque, to live up to the promises of the accord.”

GOVERNMENT-ELN PEACE PROCESS

¿Una alianza entre la disidencia de las Farc y el Eln?
El Espectador, 29 de agosto de 2019

“En el video en el que Iván Márquez anunció el regreso a las armas de él y de guerrilleros como alias El Paisa y Romaña, aseguró que buscará alianzas con el Eln. Esta guerrilla, por su parte, le envió un mensaje a Jesús Santrich de apoyo a su decisión de volver a la guerra. El Gobierno señala que esta unión respondería a la debilidad militar de las disidencias.”

Jefe del Eln abre puerta a posible alianza con disidencia de Farc
El Tiempo, 29 de agosto de 2019

“Uno de los jefes del Eln en el Chocó se pronunció sobre la nueva disidencia de las Farc comandada por ‘Iván Márquez’ y abrió la puerta para una eventual alianza. ‘El bando popular está abierto para todos aquellos que quieran aportar y hay una trinchera de combate a la medida del compromiso, la disponibilidad y las capacidades de toda persona que esté dispuesta a un futuro mejor’, dijo el llamado Comandante Uriel que delinque en el pacífico.”

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Murder of hundreds of Colombian activists casts shadow over peace process
Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, August 25, 2019

“The government attributes the killings to still-active National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels along with crime gangs and dissident FARC guerrillas who refused to demobilize after the peace accord. All are fighting for control of lucrative drug production and illegal mining areas previously ruled by the FARC. Community leaders and activists involved in efforts to protect the environment, stem illegal mining, oppose the presence of armed groups or promote the eradication of coca – the base ingredient in cocaine – risk the ire of multiple armed groups, human rights organizations say.”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

The War at the Colombia-Venezuela Border
Tamara Taraciuk Broner and Juan Pappier, Americas Quarterly, August 28, 2019

Colombia has opened its doors to Venezuelans fleeing the government-created human rights and humanitarian crisis next door. But as tens of thousands cross the border in search of relief, many have instead found themselves in the middle of an ongoing armed conflict – where desperation and limited state presence have left them particularly vulnerable to abuses by armed groups.”

Violent deaths of Venezuelans in Colombia on the rise – report
Reuters, August 25, 2019

“An average of one Venezuelan died violently in Colombia each day in the first seven months of 2019, Colombia‘s forensic science institute said in a report, a trend that may worsen as immigration increases.More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia in recent years, fleeing a deep political and economic crisis that has caused long-running shortages of food and medicines.”

* 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.