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Colombia News Brief for January 28 – February 2, 2017

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

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Source: Colombia Reports

The Peace Process with the FARC: Progress and Obstacles Ahead

The Final March: Colombia’s FARC Begins Demobilizing
Jim Wyss, Miami Herald, January 31, 2017

“Some 6,300 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are making the trek from their traditional battlegrounds to United Nations-controlled camps in what the government is describing as an unprecedented logistics operation.“The news we’ve been awaiting for years is now a reality,” President Juan Manuel Santos wrote in a Tweet. “War with the FARC is over. They’ve quit existing as an armed group.””

Last child soldiers from Colombia’s rebel ranks to be freed
Anastasia Maloney, Thomas Reuters Foundation News, January 30, 2017 

“Dozens of child soldiers are expected to be released from Colombia’s FARC rebel group in the coming weeks as part of a peace deal that ended one of the world’s longest-running civil wars.Under a November peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ending 52-years of war, the rebels pledged to free all its remaining child fighters, mostly aged 16 and 17.”

¿Por qué las Farc le tienen terror a devolver a los niños reclutados?
Maria Isabel Rueda, El Tiempo, 29 de enero de 2017

“La indolencia del Gobierno y sus funcionarios ha sido tal que, incluso en respuesta a un derecho de petición enviado por mí al Comisionado Jaramillo, este respondió que “nada estaba acordado hasta que todo estuviera acordado”, y que lo convenido era que la negociación se hacía en medio del conflicto”, razón por la cual no podría exigirse que entregaran los niños ni que se parara de reclutar. Un Estado que no es capaz de garantizar los derechos de sus niños, su seguridad y libre desarrollo no es un Estado viable (ONU).”

Así se convertirán las Farc en partido político
El Espectador, 1 de febrero de 2017
“Aunque aún no son claras las pretensiones presidenciales de miembros de las Farc de cara a las elecciones del 2018, la única realidad es que la finalidad de todo proceso de paz es permitir la participación política de los alzados en armas, a cambio de acabar con varias décadas de confrontación armada.”

Delays, Tricky Logistics Hamper Peace Process in Colombia
John Otis, CBC News, January 31, 2017

“Bulldozers flatten an area the size of three football fields. Soon, bunk houses, kitchens, shower stalls and a health clinic will go up. When the job is done, about 250 Marxist guerrillas will temporarily move here, as they prepare to hand over their weapons to United Nations inspectors.This operation is part of Colombia’s ongoing peace process. Under a treaty signed last year to end more than 50 years of fighting, about 7,000 battle-hardened rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have agreed to disarm by May 31.”

Ilegales: el acecho a las zonas de las FARC
Semana, 1 de febrero de 2017

“El proceso de paz con las FARC ha traído consigo un enorme reto para las autoridades: evitar que estructuras como el Clan del Golfo, el ELN y la delincuencia común, se tomen los territorios que dejó libres la guerrilla. Ya hay denuncias en varias partes del país.”

In the Shadow of “No”: Peace After Colombia’s Plebiscite
International Crisis Group, January 31, 2017

“A revised accord, with numerous changes demanded by opposition leaders, was unveiled less than two months later, but the illusion of consensus was short-lived. Indignant that it was not able to review the new text and incensed that though many of its proposals were included, a few key ones were not, the opposition decried the agreement and its ratification in Congress. Peace with the guerrillas is again set to polarise parties and candidates in elections in 2018.” [Versión en Español]

Colombia sets 2017 Coca Eradication Target at 50K Hectares
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 29, 2017

“Colombia’s government and demobilizing FARC guerrillas plan to eradicate some 50,000 hectares of coca in the South American country this year.The target is half of what was promised by Defense minister Luis Carlos Villegas, who two weeks ago said the country would aim to eradicate 10,000 hectares.”

Peace Negotiations with the ELN

Odín Sánchez ya está en Quibdó y se encuentra con su familia
El Tiempo, 2 de febrero de 2017

“En declaraciones a la W Radio, Sánchez indicó a las 9:35 a.m. que estaba por abordar el helicóptero que lo traería de regreso a la libertad. También señaló que perdonar no sería un proceso fácil, aunque haría todos los esfuerzos para respaldar los acuerdos alcanzados de paz con las Farc y los diálogos que están por iniciar con el Eln.”

Colombia Government Releases 2 ELN Guerrillas Ahead of the Peace Talks
Richard Kelleher, Colombia Reports, January 30, 2017

“Two members of Colombia’s last-standing Marxist rebel group, the ELN, have been released from prison in order to contribute to peace process negotiations with the government, El Pais reported.The two men are set to act as peace consultants during the upcoming talks taking place on February 7th in Ecuador’s capital of Quito.”

Colombian Foreign Relations

5 Ways Supporting Peace in Colombia Benefits U.S. Interests
Geoff Ramsey and Gimena Sanchez Garzoli, WOLA, January 30, 2017

“WOLA is confident that a look at the details will prove that Colombia’s peace agreement deserves full U.S. support. For one thing, the agreement holds immense benefits for the Colombian people, particularly those communities that have been most affected by over five decades of violence. But support for a lasting peace also carries promise for the United States as well, and it is directly in line with U.S. interests.”

Peru and Colombia vow to stand with Mexico after row with Trump
Reuters, January 27, 2017

“Peru and Colombia vowed to stand with Mexico as the country faces an uncertain economic future and grapples with a crisis with the United States just days into U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.”

Brazilian Gang Enlists FARC Rebels for Drug Trade
Rogerio Jelmayer, Kejal Vyas, and Samantha Pearson, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2017

“This country’s largest criminal organization is recruiting members of Colombia’s once-powerful rebel group as it seeks heavy-weapons and other expertise to help expand its hold over Latin America’s drug trade, investigators and officials in both countries say.”

Human Rights Issues

La continua tragedia de los defensores de derechos humanos
Verdad Abierta, 30 de enero de 2017

“Entre 2002 y 2016 fueron asesinados 558 líderes sociales. En lo corrido de este año, en el que se empieza a implementar el acuerdo de paz con las Farc, han matado a siete. Encuentre en este especial quiénes eran y cómo ha sido la violencia contra ellos.”

17 Colombian civil leaders ‘massacred’: officials
The Guardian, January 30, 2017

“Bogota (AFP) – Colombian officials said Monday that 17 civil campaigners have been murdered over the past two months in the country, amid tensions over its contested peace process.President Juan Manuel Santos has warned that fresh violence could destabilize the demobilization of the leftist FARC rebels under a historic peace accord.”

Narcotráfico en Urabá: lucha constante contra los ‘gaitanistas’
Yenifer Aristizabal, Verdad Abierta, 17 de enero de 2017

“Las Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia tienen el dominio de las rentas criminales en esta región agroindustrial. Diferentes modalidades, como el “hormigueo” y la “contaminación”, caracterizan el tráfico de droga desde el puerto de Turbo hacia otros países de América del norte y Europa.”

5 Things to Know about Colombia’s New Police Code
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, January 27, 2017

“The New Code of Police and Coexistence replaces the one that was in force since 1970 and was not in line with social and behavioral changes. The evolution of the Code was deemed necessary due to the evident transformation of social realities, behavior and penalties for offenders that have changed so dramatically over a period of half a century.”

FARC and Military Killed 0 Civilians Since Colombia Ceasefire Came into Force: conflict monitor
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, February 1, 2017

“In the 150 days Colombia’s military and FARC rebels have upheld a bilateral ceasefire, no civilians or combatants were killed or injured by either side of the former enemies, according to independent conflict monitor CERAC.”

*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.