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Colombia News Brief for January 7 – January 13, 2021

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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.


¿Tierra para los excombatientes?
Lina María Ortega Van Arcken, El Espectador, 8 de enero de 2021
“Con el propósito de viabilizar los proyectos productivos de índole agraria se expidió el Decreto 1543 del 24 de noviembre de 2020 por el cual se reglamenta la transferencia de predios rurales a ex combatientes. No es un secreto que la mayoría de los ex combatientes proviene de zonas rurales y se ha evidenciado su intención de adelantar una reincorporación en el sector rural. En los resultados del Censo Socioeconómico realizado por la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, se identificó que el origen de la población excombatiente de las FARC-EP es 66% rural, 15 % urbano-rural y 19 % urbano; así como se señaló que los proyectos colectivos de mayor interés se encuentran enfocados en actividades agropecuarias, mercados campesinos, acuicultura o pesca extractiva, entre otros. Con este decreto también se pretende garantizar el acceso a la vivienda”.

En 2020, 73 excombatientes fueron asesinados: Misión de la ONU
El Espectador, 7 de enero de 2021
“En su más reciente informe trimestral, la Misión de Verificación de Naciones Unidas reiteró su llamado de atención sobre la seguridad de excombatientes y líderes sociales en las regiones. En el caso de estos últimos, habló de 378 homicidios desde la firma de la paz. Gobierno dijo que el documento coincide con su visión en que la amenaza son los narco-disidentes”.


Colombian capital faces hospital capacity shortage with strict measures
Andrea Torres, Local10, January 11, 2021
“A new rise in coronavirus cases is challenging hospital capacity and prompting officials in Bogota, Colombia to enforce drastic measures. Health officials reported more than 1.8 million coronavirus infections and 46,451 COVID-19 deaths in Colombia. Hospital capacity in Bogota at intensive care units for COVID-19 patients was at 91.5% on Monday. Patients continued to arrive.”

Colombia discovers local coronavirus mutation
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 8, 2021
“The director of the National Health Institute (INS) said Thursday that her office identified a strain of the coronavirus that so far has only been detected in Colombia. This ‘Colombian’ strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 was first discovered in March last year but has yet to be proven either more infectious or more dangerous than the virus that originated in China, according to INS director Martha Ospina.”

Colombia’s Bogota to enter lockdown amid new strain concerns
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 7, 2021
“Colombia’s capital will enter a strict quarantine until Tuesday due to rising coronavirus infection numbers and suspicions a new variant of the virus is circulating, Mayor of Bogota Claudia Lopez said on Thursday. Strict quarantines were been imposed on three Bogota neighborhoods this week to control rising infections, which Lopez said could be caused by a new variant of the virus first identified in the United Kingdom.”

COVID-19 sees more expectant Colombian mothers turn to traditional help
Ana Luisa González, The New Humanitarian, January 7, 2021
“In rural areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven up maternal mortality as pregnant women have avoided health centres. Many women have instead resorted to Afro-Colombian midwives – who have inherited ancestral knowledge and skills – for care prior to their deliveries. But these health workers often lack official recognition of their work.”


Colombia struggles to keep social leaders safe
Astrid Suárez, Marko Álvarez, The Washington Post, January 13, 2021
“Decades of bloody civil conflict involving government forces, leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries linked to landowners and powerful drug trafficking groups have created an atmosphere in which many factions feel little hesitation at trying to kill or intimate those who oppose them. Activists are often targeted for denouncing or being seen to interfere with drug trafficking or illegal logging or mining, or for trying to protect communities confronting armed gangs.”

Colombia’s police responsible for 289 murders between 2017 and 2019: report
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 13, 2021
“Colombia’s police are responsible for 289 homicides committed for which only two policemen were convicted since 2017, according to a local human rights group. The Police Violence Observatory of NGO Temblores obtained the information from the Medical Examiner’s Office, which determines people’s cause of death, newspaper El Espectador reported on Tuesday. The police would be responsible for 45% of murders committed by Colombia’s security forces in the three years studied by the NGO, according to El Espectador.”

Colombia: Biodiversity Defender Is Assassinated in Cauca
TeleSur, January 12, 2021
“Forest guard Gonzalo Cardona is the first environmental advocate killed this year. Colombia’s ProAves Foundation Monday informed on the murder of forest guard and environmental leader Gonzalo Cardona in Valle del Cauca Department. Cardona, who was coordinator of ProAves’s Andean Parrot Reserve, was missing since January 8. According to his Foundation, he was last seen in the village of La Union, in southwestern Colombia.”


Cocaine Production Is Destroying Colombia National Park Old-Growth Rainforest
EcoWatch, January 9, 2021
“Satellite data show the park lost 6.2% of its tree cover between 2001 and 2019, with several months of unusually high deforestation in 2020. Sources say illegal coca cultivation is rapidly expanding in and around Catatumbo Barí and is driving deforestation as farmers move in and clear forest to grow the illicit crop, which is used to make cocaine. Area residents say armed groups are controlling the trade of coca in and out of the region, and are largely operating in an atmosphere of impunity.”


Colombian and Ecuadorian Indigenous communities live in fear as drug traffickers invade
Ana Cristiana Basantes, Mongabay, January 8, 2021
“The Siona Indigenous group inhabits communities in two Indigenous territories: Buenavista in Colombia and the smaller Wisuyá in Ecuador. Both territories have seen increasing deforestation in recent years, which sources attribute to oil extraction, logging and the clearing of land for illicit crops – mainly coca, which is used to make cocaine. Armed groups control the trade and processing of coca and sources say those who oppose them face violent reprisal.”

* 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.