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Colombia News Brief for January 26 – February 2, 2020

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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: Julián Ortega Martínez / Flickr

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Lo difícil que es ser LGBT en las calles de Bogotá: informe de Temblores
Diana Durán Núñez, El Espectador, 31 de enero de 2020
“‘Qué maricada con nuestros derechos’ es el nombre que recibió este reporte, elaborado por la ONG. ‘En cierta medida todxs vivimos con miedo’, se lee en este documento, que denuncia especialmente la violencia policial. ‘Este informe habla de lo que nos pasa a los cuerpos maricones en las calles, los espacios estatales y las esferas públicas en Bogotá: en cierta medida todxs vivimos con miedo’, se lee en la introducción del recién lanzado informe de la ONG Temblores ‘Qué maricada con nuestros derechos.’ ‘Aquí mostramos cómo las personas con cuerpos disidentes del orden sexual y de gé­nero somos violentadas sistemáticamente en las calles de Bogotá y cómo las respues­tas Estatales y activistas no son efectivas, precisamente porque no dialogan con los diversos lugares de enunciación que existen en la ciudad.’”

Colombia appoints former human rights adviser as attorney general
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 30, 2020
“Colombia’s Supreme Court on Thursday appointed Francisco Barbosa, a lawyer with close ties to President Ivan Duque, as the country’s new attorney general. Barbosa, 46, previously served as a presidential adviser on human rights and international affairs. He studied law at Sergio Arboleda University alongside Duque, who included him in a list of three nominations presented to the court, which unanimously selected him for a term of four years.”

Colombia arrested 6 social leaders on terrorism charges ahead of protests
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 26, 2020
“Ahead of last week’s anti-government protests, Colombia’s police arrested six social leaders on terrorism support charges. Among the detainees is David Ravelo, the son of a human rights defender who spent seven years in prison after releasing evidence that former President Alvaro Uribe met with paramilitaries ahead of the 2002 elections. The arrest of Ravelo and Jaime Hernando Olarte in Bogota were denounced by their organization, the Popular Human Rights Network, on Tuesday already.”

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

Citing extermination plan, FARC members and families abandon reintegration site
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 31, 2020
“Some 100 demobilized rebels and their families abandoned a FARC reintegration site in northern Colombia on Thursday, claiming they fear for their lives. The former guerrillas and their families left the site in Ituango, Antioquia, claiming there would an ‘extermination plan’ in action. Less than 50 stayed behind, according to Caracol Radio. The FARC members took the decision two days after the Cesar Dario Herrera became the 12th assassinated resident of the Roman Ruiz reintegration site in three years. The majority of the guerrillas traveled to the urban center of Antioquia and to Medellin, according to Caracol Radio.”

Homicides in Colombia up 3% in 2019: medical examiner’s office
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 30, 2020
“Homicides in Colombia went up 3% in 2019, according to the country’s Medical Examiner’s Office, which is contradicting government claims homicides dropped. The Medical Examiner’s Office, whose numbers are used to calculate the country’s homicide rate, said homicides went up from 11297 in 2018 to 11630 last year. December was a particularly violent month with 1162 murder, the highest number in the past two years.”

El luto del partido FARC: van 185 exguerrilleros asesinados
El Espectador, 29 de enero de 2020
“Esa es la cifra que reporta el partido de la exguerrilla desde la firma del Acuerdo de Paz hasta la fecha, mientras que la Unidad Especial de la Fiscalía registra 169 homicidios. De estos, dice que hay 20 personas condenadas en 23 sentencias judiciales. Los excombatientes siguen denunciando persecución de algunos agentes de la Fuerza Pública. El pasado 26 de enero murió el exguerrillero número 185 tras la firma del Acuerdo de Paz en noviembre de 2016. Luego de que saliera del Espacio Territorial de Reincorporación, en zona rural de Ituango, a 30 minutos lo alcanzaron los tiros de los sicarios que ya han asesinado, según lo denunció el partido de la exguerrilla, a doce excombatientes en ese municipio del norte de Antioquia. César Darío Herrera Gómez, quien fue conocido en la guerra como Lenis Callejas, quedó con vida en el lugar de los hechos, pero, luego de que sus compañeros lo recogieran, murió llegando al hospital del pueblo.”

Southern Colombia living in terror as turf war over drug trade escalates
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 27, 2020
“‘The war has returned!’ a journalist from southern Colombia decried after the 13th assassination this year in Puerto Guzman, a locality with less than 5,000 inhabitants. This war over Putumayo in southern Colombia was foretold and has intensified, particularly in Puerto Guzman where assassins are terrorizing the population. The security forces appear to have gone on a permanent vacation, and the the new governor is waiting until the national government is done inventing new conspiracy theories about Venezuela.”

Más de 180 alcaldes se reunirán el 5 de febrero para analizar seguridad de excombatientes
El Espectador, 27 de enero de 2020
“Ante las críticas al Gobierno por la falta de medidas efectivas para proteger a los exguerrilleros de las Farc, el consejero para la Estabilización, Emilio Archila, aseguró que se involucrará a alcaldes y gobernadores en las estrategias para garantizar la seguridad de esta población. Un día después de que el partido FARC denunciara un nuevo asesinato de uno de sus integrantes, el de Jhon Fredy Vargas, registrado en Pitalito (Huila), el Gobierno Nacional le salió al paso a las críticas por la ausencia de medidas efectivas para proteger la vida de los excombatientes. Emilio Archila, consejero para la Estabilización, anunció nuevas estrategias para garantizar la seguridad de quienes dejaron las armas.”

GOVERNMENT-ELN PEACE PROCESS

ELN pica y se extiende
Semana, 1 de febrero de 2020
“Con más de 5.000 hombres, la mitad de ellos en territorio venezolano, esta guerrilla aprovechó la dejación de armas de las Farc para fortalecerse y ampliar sus linderos. Esta es la radiografía que presentó la Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP), con el llamado a no cerrar la puerta a una salida negociada.”

Armed groups in Colombia are still recruiting children, NGOs say
Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, January 30, 2020
“Illegal armed groups are still recruiting children in Colombia, subjecting them to sexual abuse and using them as cannon fodder in armed conflict, humanitarian groups said on Thursday. ‘In Colombia the recruiting and use of minors is a common and systemic practice which changes to meet the new demands of the armed conflict,’ said Olga Silva of Humanidad Vigente, which published a report along with Oxfam and Benposta Nacion de Muchachos. The groups form part of the observatory for the protection of rights and welfare of children (OPROB).”

How Colombia’s ELN guerrillas painfully confirmed authorities are powerless in northeast
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 27, 2020
“The ELN violently reaffirmed their control over Colombia’s northeastern Arauca province on Saturday, days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed ‘the guerrillas were the police’ there. In one of multiple attacks, guerrillas burned a van that was transporting workers from the capital Arauca to the Caño Limon oil field. According to local radio station, La Voz del Cinaruco, other vehicles transporting workers were spray-painted with texts like ‘multinationals get out.’ In a second operation, guerrillas ordered the driver of a truck to block the road between the town of Tame and the capital. State-run oil company Ecopetrol said that the guerrilla actions did not affect oil production. The army deployed troops from the 18th Brigade and the Quiron Task Force to clear the roads that had been blocked by the guerrillas.”

DRUG POLICY

Gobierno traicionó a los campesinos que dejaron sus cultivos de coca’: líder campesino
Sebastián Forero Rueda, El Espectador, 28 de enero de 2020
“Arnobis Zapata, vocero nacional de la Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana (Coccam) respondió a las declaraciones del director del programa de sustitución de cultivos, Hernando Londoño, quien señaló que no han sido asesinados líderes de sustitución. De acuerdo con Zapata, este Gobierno no tiene voluntad con el programa.  Indignación y rechazo generaron entre las comunidades campesinas las declaraciones del director del Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos (PNIS), Hernando Londoño, quien, en entrevista con Colombia2020, sostuvo que líderes de sustitución de cultivos no han sido asesinados.”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

Colombia rejects Venezuelan proposal to resume diplomatic relations
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 30, 2020
“Colombia rejected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s proposal that the two countries resume diplomatic relations on Thursday, amid a dispute over a fugitive former Colombian congresswoman who was captured in Venezuela.Maduro abruptly cut diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia last February after Colombian President Ivan Duque helped Venezuelan opposition politicians deliver humanitarian aid to their crisis-stricken country.”

Colombia says Interpol will mediate extradition of fugitive politician arrested in Venezuela
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 29, 2020
“Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said Wednesday that Interpol will mediate the extradition of a fugitive political ally arrested in Venezuela after his government was ridiculed for asking the neighbors’ opposition to do so. Duque’s announcement followed two days of ridicule over a Justice Ministry announcement that it would ask the ‘legitimate government led by Juan Guaido,’ Venezuela’s opposition leader, to extradite former Senator-elect Aida Merlano.”

Colombia offers work permits to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 29, 2020
“Colombia will allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants to legalize their presence in the country through work permits meant to bring them into the legal economy, the government said on Wednesday. Colombia is the principal destination for Venezuelan migrants fleeing from political, social and economic crisis under the government of President Nicolas Maduro.”

Venezuela’s Maduro proposes re-opening consular relations with Colombia
Luc Cohen & Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, January 29, 2020
“Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday said he was willing to re-establish consular relations with neighboring Colombia, amid a standoff between the two countries over a fugitive former Colombian senator who was captured in Venezuela. Maduro, a socialist, last year suspended relations and gave Colombian diplomatic and consular staff 24 hours to depart in response to conservative President Ivan Duque’s government’s help to the Venezuelan opposition’s efforts to bring humanitarian aid into the crisis-stricken country.”

Femicide: the main cause of death for Venezuelan women in Colombia
Beverly Goldberg, openDemocracy, January 27, 2020
“A case study about deaths of Venezuelan women in Colombia highlights quite worrying information about the types of violence they suffer, the characteristics of the victims and the places where the incidents took place in the country. With the support of the mapping project of the Francisco de Vitoria Institute of International and European Studies, we analyze data on cases of deaths of Venezuelans in Colombian territory from January 2018 until December 2019.”

* 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.