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Colombia News Brief for February 9, 2022

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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.

SPOTLIGHT

Informe de seguimiento, impulso y verificación a la implementación del Capítulo Etnico del Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera 
Instancia Especial de Alto Nivel con Pueblos Étnicos
, 24 de enero de 2022
“En el Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera (2018), el Gobierno Nacional y las FARC-EP reconocen que los Pueblos Étnicos han contribuido a la construcción de una paz sostenible y duradera, al progreso, al desarrollo económico y social del país, y que han sufrido condiciones históricas de injusticia, producto del colonialismo, la esclavización, la exclusión y el haber sido desposeídos de sus tierras, territorios y recursos, que además han sido afectados gravemente por el conflicto armado interno. El Capítulo Étnico del Acuerdo Final Paz (en adelante AFP, Acuerdo de Paz o Acuerdo) es producto de una negociación tripartita entre el Gobierno Nacional, las FARC-EP y organizaciones representativas de los Pueblos Étnicos, algunas de las cuales confluyen en la Comisión Étnica de Paz y la Coordinación Étnica Nacional de Paz (CENPAZ), partícipes dentro de la negociación”.

Top UN Colombia official calls for greater implementation of historic peace accord
UN News, 20 de enero de 2022

“Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who is also the Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, said the elections, slated for March, will include for the first time representatives from 16 “special transitional electoral districts for peace”, which were established in 2021 and stipulated under the 2016 agreement to promote participation of historically excluded populations in conflict-affected areas.”

U.S.-COLOMBIAN PARTNERSHIP DIALOGUE

U.S. Civil Society Organizations Urge U.S. Government to Push for Serious Police Reform in Colombia
Latin America Working Group, February 9, 2022

“We are deeply disturbed that during the U.S. High-Level Dialogue with the Colombian government, Under Secretary Nuland and the U.S. Embassy through its twitter account celebrated the U.S. relationship with the Colombian National Police following a year in which the police committed massive repression of protests. Dozens of people were killed; others were tortured; many were severely wounded, including losing their eyesight; others were sexually assaulted; and many protesters are facing serious charges in the justice system. Most of the victims are teenagers and young adults. There is little progress in achieving justice for these acts of police brutality.”

U.S. gives Colombia $8 mln for police human rights training
National Post, February 8, 2022 

“‘I am very proud to announce an additional $8 million from the U.S. government for the Colombian national police to support this work that they are embarked on now in the protection of human rights, in strengthening human rights education among the police force, accountability for those who abuse human rights and identifying corruption within the police force,” Nuland told journalists in company with the national police director, General Jorge Luis Vargas.”

Under Secretary Nuland’s Press Conference in Colombia
US Embassy Bogota, 8 de febrero 2022

“@UnderSecStateP conversó con @IvanDuque sobre el fortalecimiento de la seguridad, la democracia y la recuperación económica de la región. La alianza entre EE.UU. y Colombia es vital para la prosperidad de nuestros ciudadanos y del Hemisferio Occidental”.

Assistant Secretary Brian Nichols Meeting Colombian Human Rights Defenders 
Brian Nichols, February 9, 2022

“Thank you to all human rights defenders working tirelessly to give a voice to all Colombians. Good meeting today to discuss how the U.S. can support their work, including towards the implementation of the Peace Accord. Human rights remains at the core of our foreign policy.”

Subsecretaria de EE. UU. alerta sobre la desinformación en elecciones en Colombia
El Espectador, 8 de febrero de 2022

“En una rueda de prensa junto al presidente Iván Duque, la subsecretaria de Estado para Asuntos Políticos de Estados Unidos, Victoria Nuland, habló sobre fortalecer la democracia y de los riesgos que pueden representar ‘los actores externos, los autoritarios y aquellos que no le desean bien a nuestras democracias’”.

Los temas que se abordaron en el Diálogo de Alto Nivel con Estados Unidos 
El Tiempo, 8 de febrero de 2022

“La Vicepresidente y Canciller, Marta Lucía Ramírez  y Victoria Nuland, la subsecretaria de Estado para los Asuntos Políticos del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU., lideraron este martes, desde el Palacio de San Carlos, el Diálogo Estratégico de Alto Nivel en Seguridad. Esta es la sexta versión de este mecanismo de cooperación, establecido en el 2012, entre los dos países. De acuerdo con el reporte, el diálogo se concentró en la cooperación bilateral y en la coordinación de acciones conjuntas para enfrentar las potenciales amenazas y fenómenos de violencia que podrían afectar la seguridad nacional, como es el caso de los delitos cibernéticos”.

EE. UU. advierte a Duque sobre ‘amenazas de actores externos’ en elecciones
El Tiempo, 9 de febrero de 2022 

“‘Hoy hemos compartido el principio de compartir información de inteligencia, de seguridad nacional donde se pueda identificar cualquier influencia o intento de influencia extranjera en el proceso electoral de nuestro país o en cualquier otro lugar del hemisferio’, destacó el mandatario.”

PEACE PROCESSES

Colombia’s top court orders government to protect ex-FARC rebels
Al Jazeera, 28 de diciembre de 2021 

“Colombia’s top court has ordered the government to protect disarmed former left-wing rebel fighters after a spate of murders. In a judgement made public on Friday, the Constitutional Court said the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels’ ‘fundamental rights to life, personal integrity and peace … were ignored by the Colombian state. Some 300 former FARC fighters that signed a 2016 peace deal with the government, bringing an end to their half-century-old conflict with the state, have been murdered.”

Farc: Colombian rebel commander ‘El Paisa’ killed in Venezuela
BBC News, 6 de diciembre de 2021 

“Hernán Darío Velásquez, nicknamed El Paisa, was reportedly shot dead in Venezuela’s Apure state. His death has not been officially confirmed and the Colombian army said it had no knowledge of the killing…​​Nonetheless, violence continues in some regions of Colombia where an estimated 5,000 dissidents continue to fight against government forces. The Colombian government has repeatedly accused Venezuelan leaders of harbouring Farc dissidents and has claimed that an attack on a helicopter carrying President Duque in June was planned from the neighbouring state.”

CONTINUING ARMED CONFLICT

Colombia’s leftist ELN rebels claim responsibility for bombing
Reuters, January 8, 2022

“The ELN and national police both confirmed that 13 officers were injured in the attack, with police officials saying that some were seriously hurt. No deaths were reported. The attack drew condemnation from the government and police, with President Ivan Duque decrying it as an attempt by the rebels to influence presidential elections later this year. ‘Colombia does not and will not bend to terrorism and our government will never reward terrorists,’ Duque said in a message on Twitter.”

Nuevo ataque contra la Brigada 30 en Cúcuta
El Espectador, 7 de febrero de 2022 

“En la madrugada de este lunes se presentó un nuevo ataque con explosivos contra la Brigada 30 del Ejército en Cúcuta (Norte de Santander). El ataque no dejó heridos y tampoco daños en las instalaciones del cantón San Jorge, donde ocurrieron los hechos. Según las primeras hipótesis de las autoridades, el responsable del ataque sería el Ejército de Liberación Nacional (Eln). De acuerdo con la institución, tras el ataque se desplegaron dispositivos de reacción y determinaron que las cargas detonadas fueron tres. Uno de los explosivos estalló en el cerro Núcleo 86 y los dos restantes se detonaron en la parte baja de las instalaciones del cantón San Jorge”.

Bloody fighting between guerrilla groups is terrorizing Colombian border communities
Samantha Schmidt and Diana Durán, The Washington Post, February 4, 2022 

“Fighting between rival guerrilla groups along Colombia’s border with Venezuela has ushered in a bloody start to the new year, leaving dozens dead and sending residents fleeing from some of the worst violence since the country’s historic peace accords five years ago. At least 23 people were killed in clashes between leftist armed groups in the northeastern department of Arauca during the first weekend of January. Later in the month, car bomb exploded in front of a building where more than 40 social leaders were gathered in a self-protection workshop, injuring dozens and killing a security guard.”

Armed group attacks UN convoy, burns two vehicles in Colombia
Al Jazeera, January 28, 2022 

“An armed group has attacked a United Nations convoy in southeastern Colombia, burning two vehicles but not harming any worker. According to the UN, its workers were travelling with members of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Norwegian Refugee Council when ‘they were approached by armed men who made them get out of their vehicle.’”

Indigenous activists’ deaths highlight surging Colombia conflict
Steve Grattan, Al Jazeera, February 4, 2022  

“A sombre atmosphere, spurred by the sound of musicians playing flutes and drums, hung over the Indigenous Nasa community of Las Delicias, which has been in mourning since the death of 14-year-old Breiner David Cucuname last month. Members of other Indigenous communities travelled on large buses for several hours to remember the young environmental activist, who died in a confrontation between Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel dissidents and the Cauca region’s so-called Indigenous Guard…The Indigenous Guard – or Kiwe Thegnas in the Nasa Yuwe language – is a grassroots network of Indigenous men, women and children who volunteer to defend their ancestral territories. It originated in Colombia’s violence-ridden Cauca province and began to operate as an organised force in 2001, during a peak in armed conflict.”

HUMAN RIGHTS

Más de 200.000 personas han sido reportadas como desaparecidas en Colombia
El Espectador, 4 de febrero de 2022

“Cerca de 200.000 personas permanecen desaparecidas en Colombia, según los registros de la Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas (UARIV), que administra el Registro Unico de Víctimas (RUV). Desde 2011, hasta 31 de agosto de 2021, fueron víctimas directas de desaparición forzada 50.522 personas. Sin embargo, esta cifra puede ser mayor, pues el Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (CNMH) reporta 82.998 personas desaparecidas forzadamente entre 1958 y 2017”. 

Nearly 150 activists killed in Colombia in 2021: Rights ombudsman
Al Jazeera, January 18, 2022 

“While Colombia is officially at peace since signing a pact with the FARC group in 2016 to end more than a half-century of armed conflict, it has seen a flare-up of violence in recent months due to fighting over territory and resources by dissident FARC fighters, the ELN rebel group, paramilitary forces and drug cartels. The regions that saw the highest number of killings in 2021 were areas where groups continue to fight over thousands of kilometres of drug crops or illegal mines”

Colombia: Children still ‘used and abused’ despite historic peace accord
UN News, January 12, 2022 

“The Special Representative called on all armed groups to immediately stop recruiting and using children and to release those in their ranks, so they may return to their communities and participate in reintegration programmes. She also reminded that boys and girls associated with armed groups and forces, should primarily be considered as victims.”

Indígenas habían sido trasladados por trocha ilegal, denuncia alcalde de Tibú 
El Espectador, 7 de diciembre de 2022

“Por su parte, el alcalde de Tibú, Nelson Leal, reclamó que no se hubiera dispuesto un corredor humanitario por el puente internacional de Cúcuta. ‘No hubo un enfoque diferencial para hacer este traslado y mucho menos se contempló que esta es una población protegida. La situación de orden público del Catatumbo es muy delicada y aquí solo contamos con trochas ilegales que están dominadas por grupos al margen de la ley’, dijo Franco”.

Why are so many environmental activists being killed in Colombia? 
Victoria Seabrook, News Sky, December 28, 2021 

“Since 2018 the number of massacres in Colombia has grown constantly, with 2020 recording the highest number since 2014, according to the United Nations. And it has become the deadliest place in the world for environmental defenders…The Colombian government declined a request to comment, but highlighted successful prosecutions and its specific policies to protect environmental defenders. It has set out new environmental crimes in its criminal code – including in relation to deforestation – and strengthened sentences for existing crimes like ecocide.The Duque administration blames the threats and assassinations of social leaders on organised armed groups, which it says have continued to feed on drug trafficking and illegal mineral extraction.”

ENVIRONMENT

Colombia’s new anti-deforestation law provokes concern for small-scale farmers
Christina Noriega, Mongabay, January 10, 2022 

“The new legislation is expected to bolster the government’s ongoing anti-deforestation efforts, primarily the flagship Operation Artemis, a military-led campaign targeting deforestation gangs that was launched in 2019. But some environmentalists and human rights groups are waiting to see how the law is implemented, particularly as Operation Artemis restarts in 2022. They warn that if past military actions are any indication, the law is likely to be used against poor farmers living along the agricultural frontiers rather than the higher-ups that finance the destruction.”

Colombia launches strategy to tackle environmental crimes
Reuters, December 6, 2021 

“Colombia’s national police has deployed 100 criminal intelligence and investigation officers in a strategy to tackle environmental crimes in the Andean country, the government said on Monday, citing illegal mining and animal trafficking among the gravest threats.Fifty officers will investigate environmental crimes while 40 will work on intelligence gathering. The remaining 10 will monitor websites, including social media, for trafficking and selling of wildlife.”

La situación de los indígenas que viven de los desechos de un basurero en Vichada
El Espectador, 7 de febrero de 2022

“En el basurero de Puerto Carreño, en Vichada, casi un centenar de personas, indígenas en su mayoría, se agolpan alrededor del camión de la basura que llega para buscar entre lo que descarga algo para comer o vender. La mayoría de estos recicladores informales, que ejercen bajo el sofocante sol de los llanos colombianos y los insectos propios de la descomposición, pertenecen a comunidades indígenas, sobre todo amoruas, que viven entre la frontera de Colombia y Venezuela y que desde hace unos años están asentados en esta ciudad, donde se dedican a este oficio”.

The Smuggler’s Dilemma – Black Market Oil from Venezuela or Colombia
Insight Crime, February 2, 2022 

“Venezuela’s oil industry is beginning to make a muted recovery and the country’s black markets are reacting fast, with domestic fuel already starting to compete with smuggled Colombian imports. Fuel smugglers on the Colombia-Venezuela border, who have been smuggling oil into Venezuela for the past few years to ease the country’s fuel shortages, now face reduced profits as Venezuela’s oil industry makes a partial recovery.”

DRUG POLICY

Colombia’s ‘King’ of Drug Subs Goes Down But Vessels Proliferate
Sergio Saffron, InSight Crime, January 18, 2022 

“Authorities in Colombia have netted the country’s ‘king’ of drug submarines – a man whose services, prosecutors allege, have been employed by a range of powerful criminal groups from Colombia to Mexico. Óscar Moreno Ricardo – arrested in Medellín in early January – is wanted for extradition by US authorities on charges related to drug trafficking, according to Colombian prosecutors, who allege he was the principal actor responsible for coordinating the manufacture and launching of cocaine-laden semi-submersibles off Colombia’s Pacific coast.”

Colombia launches new strategy to tackle drug trade
Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, February 3, 2022

“Colombia has launched a new strategy to fight drug trafficking, aiming to control cyberspace to tackle criminal groups involved in the cocaine trade, as well as block their financial transactions, Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Thursday. The “Esmeralda” initiative, unveiled in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, will see support from 36 countries including the United States, Colombia’s main ally in the war on drugs.”

Colombia can’t resume coca aerial spraying for now, court rules
Steve Grattan, Al Jazeera, January 20, 2022 

“Rights groups and politicians in Colombia have welcomed a decision by the country’s Constitutional Court, which ruled this week that the government failed to consult local communities over its plan to restart aerial fumigation of coca crops. In a decision on Wednesday, the court said the government of President Ivan Duque could not at this stage move forward with plans to carry out aerial spraying with herbicide glyphosate. It said Bogota must first adequately consult with communities that could be affected.”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

US expels Venezuelan migrants to Colombia under COVID powers 
Manuel Rueda and Elliot Spagat, AP News, January 31, 2022 

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it will expel Venezuelans to Colombia ‘on a regular basis,’ without elaborating on the frequency. They will be limited to Venezuelans who previously resided in Colombia, it said.”


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

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