en English

Colombia News Brief for January 18 -25, 2020

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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: Leon Hernandez / Flickr

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders*
United Nations Human Rights Council, December 26, 2019
Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, published a new report on his visit to Colombia. The report concluded that: “Colombia remains the country with the highest number of murdered human rights defenders in Latin America, and threats against this group have soared. Despite progress in this area, there is still a high level of impunity. Although the President of the Government and other authorities have made public statements recognizing the important role of human rights defenders, there is a general lack of positive social recognition and they are undermined and criminalized by other State and non-State actors.” The report is available in Spanish here.

El prejuicio no conoce fronteras: homicidios de lesbianas, gay, bisexuales, trans, e intersex en países de América Latina y el Caribe
August 2019
This pathbreaking new report by LGBTQ+ organizations throughout Latin America documents violence against LGBTQ+ persons throughout the region.
 See the complete report here and the executive summary in English here. A shared website contains databases and other extensive information.

Colombia’s peaceful anti-government protests marred by violent incidents in Bogota and Medellin
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 21, 2020
“Peaceful anti-government protests that resumed throughout Colombia on Tuesday were marred by violent incidents and alleged human rights abuses by police. The protests were meant to be a rejection of violence, but masked men and police sabotaged attempts by municipal authorities and protest organizers to maintain the peace in Bogota and Medellin.”

Las Águilas Negras: si no están afuera, deben buscarlas adentro
Clara López Obregón, Semana, 21 de enero de 2020
“En 2008, las Águilas Negras decretaron un toque de queda para todos los jóvenes del país. Fue particularmente severo en Bogotá, donde dos días después de haber aparecido el primer panfleto en Caucasia, Antioquia, estaba esparcido por veinte departamentos y pegado en prácticamente todas las fotocopiadoras de barrio de Bogotá, para ser reproducido por padres y madres de familia, administradores de conjuntos residenciales, maestros, comerciantes y demás ciudadanos. El miedo cundió en Ciudad Bolívar, Usme, Usaquén y Suba, de manera simultánea. Pero la Policía decía que las Águilas Negras no existían. Que era una razón social apropiada por quienes querían asustar a los jóvenes para proteger sus negocios, conjuntos y viviendas.”

Colombia: Renewed protest rallies turn violent
Deutsche Welle, January 22, 2020
“Anti-government protests that saw at least four people injured, three of which were police officers, returned to the streets of Colombia on Tuesday as riot police clashed with demonstrators. Protests against President Ivan Duque’s government first broke out in November last year in what began as a general strike but soon evolved into discontent over Duque’s economic reforms, a lack of jobs, corruption and drug-related violence. Bogota City Hall reported up to 20 demonstrations across the capital on Tuesday, most of which were described as peaceful, though at two, riot police clashed with ‘violent hooded men.'”

How journalists investigating Colombia’s army were terrorized and one barely evaded assassination
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 20, 2020
“The lead investigator of the reportedly criminal practices carried out under Colombia’s former army chief was meant to be assassinated, reporters of weekly Semana told newspaper El Espectador. The alleged assassination plot was part of an almost unreal terror campaign that overtly sought to stop the magazine’s investigations into retired General Nicasio Martinez and a clique of corrupt officials protecting him. Ironically, the brazenness with which the army officials terrorized the journalists also provided them with the evidence that ultimately allowed them to report on the outrageous practices and file criminal charges.”

Bogota ‘downplayed violence’ during anti-government protests
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 23, 2020
“Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez allegedly downplayed the violence that took place after the resumption of anti-government protests in Colombia’s capital on Tuesday. Lopez was criticized by both Bogota’s human rights office and civilian organization Defender Libertad as she rushed to paint an overly rosy picture in regards to police brutality and vandalism. While Lopez reported 86 arrests in her 7PM speech on Tuesday, Castañeda and Defender Libertad said that by sunrise  212 people were arrested before dawn. According to the NGO, the majority of protesters were unlawfully arrested and some were physically abused.”

Alarma por asesinatos de miembros de la comunidad Lgbti+ en Neiva
El Tiempo, 24 de enero de 2020
“Los asesinatos de dos mujeres transgénero, ocurridos en menos de 8 días, encendieron las alarmas en la ciudad de Neiva, Huila. Una de las víctimas fue Reynaldo Rojas Calderon, quien fue atacado con arma blanca en el barrio Las Américas, y Hilary Medina, o Cristin, joven transgénero de 22 años que fue atacada a tiros en la carrera 2 con calle 6 de la zona céntrica. Hilary Medina fue sorprendida por hombres en moto que le dispararon y huyeron sin que se conozcan sus identidades. La Policía Metropolitana de Neiva señaló que este hecho sucedió a las 10 de la noche de este sábado y, malherida, Hilary fue llevada al Hospital Hernando Moncaleano Perdomo, pero llegó sin  signos vitales.”

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

Iván Duque: el retroceso democrático
La línea del medio, Gabriel Cifuentes, 23 de enero de 2020
“Hasta que no destierre los intereses oscuros que se esconden detrás de la violencia del Estado, el presidente no dejará de ser el cómplice espectador de un retroceso democrático. Escalofriante. Ese es el término que mejor describe la serie de acontecimientos que los medios de comunicación han destapado durante los últimos meses ante la opinión pública. Cuando todos pensaban, incluso a pesar de las diferencias ideológicas, que Colombia había sepultado prácticas nefastas, nos encontramos con que lo único que estamos sepultando diariamente es a líderes sociales, a la privacidad, a los derechos fundamentales de los ciudadanos y a la democracia en general.”

Colombia asks U.S., E.U. to include FARC dissidents on terrorist lists
Julia Symmes Cobb, Reuters, January 21, 2020
“Colombia is asking the United States, the European Union and other countries to include dissidents from the former FARC rebels on their lists of terrorist organizations, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized under a 2016 peace deal after more than five decades of conflict with the government, becoming a legal political party. But several top commanders have rejected the accord and chosen either not to demobilize or to return to arms. The government considers the dissidents to be criminals without an ideological motivation unlike the traditional FARC.”

Colombia must allow rebel dissidents to demobilize: Human Rights Watch
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 22, 2020
“Colombia must allow FARC rebel dissidents to demobilize and join reintegration efforts if it wants to tackle armed groups operating along its border with Venezuela, rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels largely demobilized under a 2016 peace deal, becoming a legal political party, but several top commanders last year rejected the peace deal and re-armed. There are an estimated 2,500 FARC dissident fighters, according to intelligence sources.”

Paramilitaries assault north Colombia village two hours after Duque visit
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 22, 2020
“Paramilitaries assassinated two people, injured two and displaced 70 on Tuesday, two hours after Colombia’s President Ivan Duque left the Bajo Cauca region where he vowed to improve security for the second time. The paramilitary assault made it clear that Duque’s latest promise was as credible as the ‘strong offensive against drug trafficking’ the president promised when he visited the historically neglected region in October 2018.”

Town on edge in Colombia after 5 killed, 2 vehicles burned
Christian Escobar Mora, AP News, January 17, 2020
“A remote town was on edge Friday after at least five people were found shot to death, highlighting Colombia’s struggle to bring peace to rural areas where drug crops are abundant and illegal armed groups are active. The killings happened overnight in an isolated part of the Jamundi municipality in southwestern Colombia and also left two vehicles incinerated, officials said. It was the third massacre in Jamundi in the past year.”

Court orders Colombia’s government to protect social leaders as agreed in peace deal
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 24, 2020
“A Bogota court ordered Colombia’s government to fulfill its obligation to protect human rights defenders and community leaders as agreed in a peace deal with former FARC rebels in 2016. A group of 10 social leaders had filed a petition in December in which they demanded the government of President Ivan Duque to comply with the deal to protect social leaders and dismantle paramilitary structures that threaten them. Duque’s far-right party, the Democratic Center, is a fierce opponent of the ongoing peace deal. The government has consistently claimed it was complying with the peace deal, but this claim was debunked by the court.”

GOVERNMENT-ELN PEACE PROCESS

Colombia’s ELN rebels a ‘threat to regional stability’: international coalition
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 21, 2020
“Colombia’s ELN rebels form a threat to regional stability, foreign ministers from the Americas said after an anti-terrorism summit in Bogota on Monday. In a joint statement, the ministers said that the 55-year-old guerrilla group ‘perpetrates terrorist acts and criminal activities of unacceptable violence and obtains funding from illegal sources.’ The ELN would be a threat to regional stability because the guerrillas ‘obtain their financing from illicit activities related to transnational organized crime’ and ‘may use situations of institutional weakness, internal conflict or other similar situations, such as in Venezuela, to promote terrorist acts and criminal activities in the region.'”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

Armed rebels impose brutal rules in Venezuela-Colombia border region
Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian, January 22, 2020
“Guerrilla groups have supplanted state rule on both sides of the lawless border between Venezuela and Colombia, where they impose their own brutal rules on civilians, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). In Colombia’s eastern Arauca province and the neighbouring Apure state in Venezuela, civilians are unable to move freely, forced to obey a strict curfew and taxed on virtually all economic activity. HRW documented abuses including murder, kidnappings, disappearances, child recruitment and rape.”

* 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.