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Colombia News Brief for February 26, 2016

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

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The Peace Process

•  El Gobierno de Colombia y FARC acuerdan superar dificultades y retomar diálogo
EFE via El Nuevo Herald, 24 de febrero de 2016
“El Gobierno de Colombia y las FARC llegaron a un acuerdo para superar “diferencias recientes y normalizar las conversaciones”, con sede permanente en La Habana, según anunciaron hoy representantes de Cuba y Noruega, países garantes del proceso de paz en la nación suramericana”.

•  Colombian president rejects FARC peace negotiation extension
Andrew V. Pestano, UPI, February 22, 2016
“Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected an extension to peace talks with the FARC rebel group if an agreement is not reached before the March deadline. Santos said the FARC must focus to reach the agreement before the March 23 deadline over the remaining negotiation points, including a disarmament agreement and the peace deal’s implementation.”

Fecha del Acuerdo Final podría cambiar si así lo deciden las partes
Ricardo Monsalve Gaviria, El Colombiano, 23 de febrero 2016
“El Plebiscito sigue siendo la principal apuesta del Gobierno para poder refrendar todo lo que se acuerde en La Habana y aunque aún falta el visto bueno por parte de la Corte Constitucional, el presidente Juan Manuel Santos sigue firme en esa postura, a tal punto que afirmó que si el plebiscito se aprueba y en las consultas gana el no, ‘el proceso de paz se acaba’”.

FARC releases 1st of estimated 2000 child soldiers
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, February 22, 2016
“Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Sunday released the first of an estimated 2,000 child soldiers fighting with the rebel group.The group had vowed to stop the recruitment of minors of 17 and younger last year and the recruitment of all minors earlier this year.”

Familiares de desaparecidos hacen recomendaciones a la Mesa de Diálogo de la Habana: Gobierno Nacional – FARC
Diakonia Programa Colombia, Premio Nacional a la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Colombia
“La participación de las organizaciones de víctimas es clave dentro del papel que jugará la nueva comisión de búsqueda. En ese sentido dijo [Alberto Yepes miembro de la Mesa de Trabajo sobre Desaparición Forzada de la Coordinación Colombia Europa – Estados Unidos (CCEEU)] que ‘es indispensable la puesta en marcha de medidas concretas para crear confianzas, que den muestras de la voluntad política de encontrar a los desaparecidos’”.

Indigenous, Afro-Colombians Want Mining Included in Peace Talks
teleSur, February 23, 2016
“Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in Colombia are demanding mining and resource extraction be included in the country’s peace talks. According to the communities, acres of land will become available if the rebels lay down their arms.”

Afro-Colombian celebrities demand involvement in peace talks
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, February 25, 2016
“Prominent Afro-Colombians asked President Juan Manuel Santos to receive black representatives at the Palace to discuss their now-absent role in peace talks with FARC rebels. A wide-ranging array of prominent figures, from hip-hop group ChocQuibTown to retired Army General Luis Alberto Moore, expressed the concerns of the sizable Afro-Colombian population in a letter sent last Friday.”

Afrocolombianos piden participación en el proceso de paz
El Espectador, 23 de febrero de 2016
“Reconocidas personalidades afrocolombianas, como Chocquibtown, Freddy Rincón, Zulia Menia y Faustino Asprilla enviaron una carta al presidente Juan Manuel Santos para solicitar la inclusión de las comunicades afrocolombianas en el proceso de paz”.


U.S. and International Support for Peace and Human Rights

Crunching the numbers of Obama’s Peace Colombia proposal
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, February 24, 2016
“United States President Barack Obama proposed a major increase in aid for Colombia that is expected to begin a peace process with leftist FARC rebels within months. Here are the numbers. Obama’s new $450 million “Peace Colombia” proposal would mean a sizable boost from the current level of assistance, but a considerable portion of the additional aid would go to military and counternarcotics programs rather than projects to build a sustainable post-war society.”

Kerry may meet with Colombia peace talks participants within days
Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, February 26, 2016
“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday he may be meeting with participants in the Colombia peace talks within the next few days ‘depending on how events flow.’”

John Kerry se reuniría con negociadores de diálogos de paz
El Colombiano, 25 de febrero de 2016
“El secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, John Kerry, anunció este jueves que podría reunirse con los delegados de paz en los próximos días, con el fin de expresar su apoyo a la resolución de los últimos obstáculos pendientes para lograr la firma de un acuerdo de paz”.

Académicos protestan por conferencia de Uribe en Princeton
El Espectador, 22 de febrero 2016
“Una invitación de la Escuela de Asuntos Públicos e Internacional Woodrow Wilson, de la prestigiosa Universidad de Princeton, al expresidente Álvaro Uribe generó la protesta de cerca de un centenar de académicos colombianos y extranjeros que trabajan temas sobre Colombia. ¿La razón? Más que la presencia del expresidente en el campus, les molesta la manera como se promocionó el evento, destacando solamente éxitos de su gobierno en cuanto a ‘crecimiento económico, seguridad, reducción de la pobreza y del número de desplazados internos’”.

No Peace for Colombia
Winifred Tate, NACLA, February 25, 2016
“U.S.-sponsored counternarcotics efforts funded by Plan Colombia have failed to stem drug trafficking. Impunity for violence has continued over the past two decades. Plan Colombia was never a real plan; it never addressed the roots of the Colombian conflict.”

Human Rights

Human Rights Activists Dispute “Success” of “Plan Colombia”
Mike LaSusa, Truthout, February 25, 2016
“A group of award-winning human rights activists from Colombia traveled to Washington, DC, from February 15 through 19 to share their perspectives on the armed conflict that has roiled their country for more than half a century, as well as the historic negotiations aimed at ending it.”

La violencia va más allá de las cifras de homicidios: Personería
Deicy Johana Pareja M., El Tiempo, February 25, 2016
“La caída histórica de homicidios que registró Medellín en 2015, la más alta en 40 años, no significa seguridad. En los barrios continúan las disputas por el control territorial, los estallidos de artefactos explosivos, la aparición de cuerpos desmembrados, desapariciones forzadas y el aumento de homicidios contra jóvenes”.

IACHR Condemns Killings and Threats Directed against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia
Organization of American States Media Center, February 25, 2016
“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of five human rights defenders in Colombia, and the generalized situation of retaliations, harassment and threats against human rights defenders in the country.”

Colombia’s Search for the Disappeared Unearths 28,000 Bodies
teleSur, February 21, 2016
“After three years of searching, Colombian forensic scientists have found over 28,000 unidentified bodies buried across the country, and the search is far from over.”

EU urges Colombia to improve security measures for journalists
Steven James Grattan, Latin Correspondent, February 25, 2016
“A total of 25 MEPs demanded Tuesday that the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, ensures the necessary security measures for journalist Clara Julieta Duque, currently investigating several cases of human rights violations.”

Eurodiputados exigen a Colombia protección a la periodista Claudia Julieta Duque
EFE via El Espectador, 23 de febrero de 2016
“Un total de 25 eurodiputados del grupo de la Izquierda Unitaria/Izquierda Verde Nórdica (GUE/NGL) exigieron este martes al presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, que garantice las medidas de seguridad necesarias a la periodista Clara Julieta Duque, que investiga varios casos de violaciones de derechos humanos”.

60-man private army attacks displaced on return in northwest Colombia
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, February 24, 2016
“A group of indigenous have been attacked by a rancher’s 60-man private army in an attempt to remove them from land in northwest Colombia from where they had been displaced, local media reported.”

Colombian Government and ELN

¿Cómo está el ELN en el ajedrez de la paz?
Semana, 21 de febrero de 2016
“‘Se ha hecho una valoración de la capacidad militar del ELN muy inferior al poder militar de las FARC. Pero lo que se ha comprobado en los últimos días es que no hay guerrilla pequeña y que una organización que tiene destreza en la guerra de guerrillas puede tener una gran capacidad de perturbación’, aseguró Antonio Sanguino, actual concejal de Bogotá y desmovilizado de una disidencia del ELN”.    

Public Health Concerns

All Eyes Are On Colombia: Will Zika Trigger A Spike In Microcephaly?
Nurith Azenman, NPR, February 24, 2016
“Experts from all over the world are converging on the country, including specialists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan American Health Organization and major research universities. They’re coordinating with Colombia’s own scientists to set up studies.”

Worries grow over Zika virus in Colombia
Chris Kraul, The LA Times, February 21, 2016
“While much of world’s attention has focused on the Zika outbreak in Brazil, the mosquito-borne virus has been sweeping across Latin America. In Colombia, it has struck more than 26,000 men and women since October, and it is spreading at an alarming pace. Up to 600,000 could be infected by June, health authorities say. Of particular concern are the 3,177 Colombian women who… contracted Zika while pregnant.”

Colombia reports 37,000 Zika cases, over 6,300 in pregnant women
Colombia Reports, February 21, 2016
“The rapid spread of the virus has raised alarms in Latin America because it has been tentatively linked to a serious birth defect known as microcephaly in babies born to women who became infected while pregnant.”

Videos and Films

Film: Displaced But Not Defeated
María Ceballos Paz, World Channel, February 22, 2016
“María Ceballos Paz, a 16-year-old Colombian girl, has been living in displacement for the past 9 years as a result of Colombia’s civil war. Decades of fighting between the army, paramilitary, guerrilla groups and drug cartels has forced approximately 4 million Colombians from their homes, creating the largest internally displaced population in the world. After her father was killed by guerrillas, María and her family fled their farm. Now living in the slums of Cali, María shows us her family, friends and community as they rebuild their lives.”

Vídeo: Esto no pudo haber pasado
Generación Paz, 22 de febrero de 2016
“Han sido muchos los muertos en la lucha de resistencia de esta comunidad campesina, la cronología de una agresión que no distingue entre actores armados y entre las más crueles y denigrantes maneras de represión.”

Reports and Studies

Amnesty International Report 2015/2016 Colombia
Amnesty International, February 24, 2016
“Peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) made significant progress. The two sides announced that an agreement had been reached on transitional justice and that a peace deal would be signed in 2016. The agreement appeared to fall short of international law standards on victims’ right to truth, justice and reparation.”

Monitor de Desescalamiento del Conflicto Armado Interno en Colombia
Centro de Recursos para el Análisis de Conflictos (CERAC), 20 de febrero 2016
“Siete meses de desescalamiento bilateral efectivo: el camino avanzado hacia el final de la guerra y lo que hace falta para alcanzar la paz… Este periodo es el de menor intensidad del conflicto en sus 51 años de historia, en número de víctimas, combatientes muertos y heridos, y acciones violentas”.

Informe sobre la situación de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, en Colombia (2015)
Peace Brigades International, 23 de febrero de 2016
“La expresión “defensor o defensora de derechos humanos” se usa para describir a la persona que, individualmente o junto con otras, se esfuerza en promover o proteger esos derechos. La persona que actúe en favor de un derecho (o varios derechos) humano(s) de un individuo o un grupo será un defensor o defensora de los derechos humanos”.

The criminalization of human rights defenders in the context of industrial projects: a regional phenomenon in Latin America / Criminalización de defensores de derechos humanos en el contexto de proyectos industriales: un fenómeno regional en América Latina
World Organisation Against Torture, February 25, 2016
“Criminalizing and harassing those who defend human rights and land rights is becoming a recurring pattern in Latin America. It is not an isolated phenomenon” points out the Observatory. “Judges and attorneys often have their share of responsibility with regard to this criminalization. This must end immediately. They can no longer be complicit.”

*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.