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Colombia News Brief for June 2-19, 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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 MG 5023 Photo by Nicolas Bedoya 

Peace Accord Implementation

UN: FARC has delivered 60% of weapons
United Nations Mission in Colombia, June 16, 2017
“At the end of this second phase of the arms laydown process, the UN Mission has in its custody 60% of the approximately 7,000 individual weapons registered, monitored and verified since the last March 1 of this year.

“The peace agreement expectations are fulfilling”, Jean Arnault, Head of the UN Mission in Colombia
United Nations Mission in Colombia, June 13, 2017
“The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Jean Arnault, referred to the progress of the peace process between the Government of Colombia and the FARC -EP, indicating that it is characterized by the determination and commitment of the parties, and assured that the Colombian process counts among the most successful of those verified internationally by UN.”
 
Welcoming progress in arms laydown in Colombia, UN chief reiterates support to peace process
UN News Centre, June 8, 2017
“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said today that he has been “encouraged” by the progress in Colombian peace process and called on the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) to continue to implement their respective commitments under the accord.”

As Colombia’s FARC disarms, rebels enlisted to fight deforestation
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, June 9, 2017
“Norway is donating about $3.5 million over two years to the pilot project it hopes will stem deforestation by offering paid jobs to ex-FARC fighters and communities to safeguard forests.”

Colombia to Provide Some Initial Funding for Rebels’ Political Party
Reporting by Javier Andres Rojas, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by G Crosse, Reuters, June 5, 2017
“”We’ve put forward the request for the FARC political party, a sum of 3.56 billion pesos … once the arms handover happens,” said Alexander Vega, head of the country’s electoral commission.”
 
DiPaz presenta informe de veeduría humanitaria alcumplimiento de protocolos del Acuerdo Final depaz con las FARC-EP
JustaPaz, 31 de mayo de 2017
“DiPaz hace veeduría humanitaria inspirado en su compromiso evangélico de ser testigos de paz y de acompañar pastoralmente a las comunidades y procesos sociales y populares que, desde los territorios, defienden y afirman los derechos humanos, la búsqueda de la verdad y la paz con justicia social y que se ven severamente afectados en sus derechos y libertades, estando incluso en riesgo su vida e integridad personal.”

 
“Hay un exceso de odio en Colombia”: Humberto de la Calle
Hugo García Segura y Lorena Arboleda Zárate, El Espectador, 17 de junio de 2017
“El exnegociador de paz, ahora en plan de precandidato presidencial, propone que el próximo 20 de julio en todo el país la gente salga a decir: no hay espacio para la violencia.”
Colombian telenovela has passion, drama — and a million bucks from U.S. government
Jim Wyss, Miami Herald, June 13, 2017
“In broad strokes, the show is a story about Colombia’s grinding violence and how once-bitter enemies — left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries, rural poor and urban elite — have to learn how to live together.”


Drug Policy


US Calls to Revive Colombia Coca Fumigation Could Damage Peace Process
Mimi Yagoub, InSight Crime, June 14, 2017
“US President Donald Trump has apparently called on his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos to lift Colombia’s ban on aerially fumigating illegal crops, a dangerous and previously unsuccessful strategy that does not address the root causes of cocaine production.”

More Mixed Signals from US State Dept on Colombia Aerial Eradication
Mimi Yagoub, InSight Crime, June 16, 2017
“The US government has continued issuing mixed messages following controversial statements by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that implied the White House was pushing for Colombia to return to outdated and potentially harmful aerial fumigation of drug crops.”
 
Colombia busca la paz sin cocaína
Maximo Anderson, Univision, 18 de junio de 2017
“Además de desarmar a los rebeldes de las FARC, el acuerdo de paz de Colombia también busca ponerle fin al comercio ilícito de drogas, pero eso requiere que el gobierno invierta dinero en el campo, y que ofrezca una alternativa viable para el floreciente mercado de la coca cuyo valor es de $88 mil millones a nivel mundial.”
 
Colombia dice ‘no’ a la presión de EE. UU. para volver a fumigar coca
El Tiempo, 14 de junio 2017
“Aunque la presión de Estados Unidos para lograr el regreso de las fumigaciones aéreas contra la coca va en aumento, la respuesta de Colombia será mantenerse en la estrategia que el presidente Juan Manuel Santos le presentó hace un mes a su colega Donald Trump: apostarle a destruir 100.000 hectáreas de la hoja mediante la combinación de la erradicación forzada y de los planes de sustitución voluntaria.”

EE. UU. dice a Colombia que es necesario volver a fumigación aérea
Sergio Gómez Maseri, El Tiempo, 13 de junio de 2017
“La administración del presidente republicano Donald Trump reveló este martes que le ha pedido a Colombia reanudar la fumigación aérea para controlar el crecimiento de los cultivos ilícitos en el país.”

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, June 7, 2017
“Since the FARC’s withdrawal, other actors — criminal groups, remnants of paramilitary organizations, FARC dissidents, or another one of the main Colombian guerrilla groups, the ELN — have fought to fill the power vacuum left in places like Nariño, which has resulted in an increase in violence, such as in Olaya Herrera, and/or in the temporary slowing of markets.”

Human Rights Issues

Bomb In Upscale Mall Kills 3, Injures 9 In Colombia
James Doubek, NPR, June 18, 2017
“A bomb that exploded in a crowded shopping mall killed three people and injured nine more in Bogota, Colombia Saturday…Colombian authorities called it an act of terrorism; no one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing. The mall was evacuated after the explosion, which occurred at about 5 p.m. local time. ‘We won’t let terrorism frighten us,’ Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said, according to Reuters. He spoke from inside the shopping center. He tweeted that Colombians should “continue life as normal” in the face of attacks.”

Colombia: Violence in a time of peace
James Patrick Jordan, People’s World, June 2, 2017
“Throughout Colombia, paramilitaries are threatening and assaulting the population in an attempt to derail the peace process. Barring that, they hope to render null and void all agreements for social investment and land rights that would hamper the free reign of big landowners, narco-traffickers, and transnational corporations. Make no mistake, paramilitaries are closely tied to these interests. U.S.-based corporations like Coca-Cola, Drummond Coal, and Chiquita all have paid and granted access to death squads targeting unionists.”

Caught in the crossfire of armed gangs in Colombia
Natalio Cosoy, BBC Mundo, June 17, 2017
“With the Farc no longer in control, other armed groups are trying to take over their profitable cocaine smuggling and illegal gold mining rackets. The groups clash with each other and the security forces. ‘A war has started in the areas where the Farc used to be,’ says local government official Luis Enrique Sinisterra.”

Colombia: Armed Groups Oppress Riverside Communities
Human Rights Watch, June 7, 2017
“Two armed groups competing for control over stretches of Colombia’s San Juan river are committing serious abuses against Afro-Colombian and indigenous Wounaan riverside communities.”

Colombia, el cuarto país del mundo en donde más asesinan niños
El Espectador, el 2 de junio de 2017
“Colombia fue ubicado en el cuarto lugar entre los países en los que las tasas de homicidios infantiles son más altas, según reveló el más reciente informe ‘En deuda con la niñez’, realizado por la organización Save The Children.”

IACHR Condemns the Killing of Bernardo Cuero in Colombia
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Organization of the American States (OAS), June 16, 2017
“The IACHR has repeatedly stressed the harsher effects of armed conflicts over Afro-decedent populations. In November 2016, the IACHR condemned on the Press Release No. 160/16 the increase in killings of human rights defenders in Colombia and noted with concern the greater vulnerability to this type of violence for Afro-Colombian leaders.”
Para verlo en español, haz click aquí.

Sabíamos y no hicimos nada: anoche asesinaron al líder Bernardo Cuero
María Flórez, ¡Pacifista!, 8 de junio de 2017
“‘No tengo absolutamente ningún tipo de seguridad. La única seguridad que tengo es tener fe en Dios y autoprotegerme, no salir de mi casa, limitar mi trabajo comunitario a la mínima expresión.’ Eso nos dijo Bernardo Cuero a finales de marzo pasado.”

Asesinan a otro líder social en Colombia y ya son 36 en lo que va del año
Noticias de America Latina y El Caribe, 9 de junio de 2017

“’Estamos absolutamente consternados, este país no puede repetir la historia de la Unión Patriótica, no hay que aguantar el asesinato de un líder más’, precisó el procurador General, Fernando Carrillo Flórez.”

Colombia, otra vez entre los 10 peores países para las y los trabajadores, según la CSI
Agencia de Informacion Laboral, 14 de junio de 2017
“Según el informe que anualmente publica la Confederación Sindical Internacional (CSI), este año Colombia aparece de nuevo en la lista de los 10 peores países del mundo para los trabajadores y trabajadoras. Estos 10 peores países son: Bangladesh, Colombia, Egipto, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Guatemala, Qatar, Turquía, Corea del Sur, Filipinas y Kazajstán.”
See the full report from the International Trade Union Confederation here.

Colombia’s teachers lift 5-week strike after vows to increase investment in education
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, June 16, 2017
“Hundreds of thousands of Colombia’s school teachers ended a five-week strike on Friday after coming to an agreement on investment in public education and improved working conditions.”

Colombia to Up Public Sector Wages by 6.75 Percent, as Teachers Strike
The Voice of America, June 7, 2017
“Colombia will raise the salaries of public employees by 6.75 percent this year, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday, a move which may help end a more than three-week-long teachers strike.”

Colombia’s congress ratifies Paris climate agreement
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, June 17, 2017
“Colombia’s Congress on Friday unanimously ratified the Paris climate agreement the United States withdrew from recently.Days after the shock move by US President Donald Trump, Colombia’s Environment Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo already announced his country will reduce its projected green house gas emissions by 20% and, if supported by the international community, by 30%.”

Colombia perdería recursos clave con decisión sobre Acuerdo de París
El Tiempo, 2 de junio de 2017
“Colombia, al igual que otras naciones en desarrollo, podría ver afectada su financiación de proyectos verdes de cara al cambio climático con la decisión de Estados Unidos de retirarse del Acuerdo de París.”

 
Buenaventura Protests

What Happened in the Recent Afro-Colombian Strikes on Colombia’s Pacific Coast, and Why Are They Important to U.S.-Colombia Relations?
Gimena Sánchez, WOLA, June 15, 2017

“Addressing the conditions that led to the strikes is critical for the successful consolidation of peace in Colombia. The U.S. government should press the Colombian government to meet the commitments it made in the agreements that ended the strikes. In particular, expressions of support and concern from the U.S. Congress will be crucial to ensure that the situation on the Pacific Coast is not forgotten and remains a priority for both the Colombian government and for the U.S. State Department in its interactions with the Colombians.”

Peaceful Protest In Buenaventura, Colombia Met With Terror
Dan Kovalik, Huffington Post, June 6, 2017
“The peaceful protest, that has blocked the flow of traffic in Buenaventura, has been met by violence at the hands of the Colombian police as well as increasing threats by the right-wing paramilitaries in Buenaventura who hold huge sway over the city and have forcibly disappeared hundreds of residents while chopping up hundreds of others alive in a grisly practice well-documented by human rights groups.”
 
IACHR Expresses Concern over the Use of Force in Protests in Colombia
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Organization of the American States (OAS), June 13, 2017
“Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the repression of protests and demonstrations in Buenaventura, Colombia, by the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD). The IACHR urges the Colombian State to investigate whether excessive force was used and to adopt urgent and reasonable measures to fully guarantee the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
Para verlo en espanol, haz click aquí.

Gob de Colombia debe limitar uso de fuerza del ESMAD y tomar medidas serias para paliar situación en Buenaventura. Pronunciamiento:
Jose Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch, 1 de junio de 2017
“Llamamos al gobierno de Colombia a…considerar el paro cívico como una oportunidad para finalmente tomar medidas eficaces y concretas para paliar el sufrimiento de quienes viven en Buenaventura.”
 
Tras 21 días, se levanta paro cívico en Buenaventura
El Heraldo, 7 de junio de 2017
“El acuerdo más importante logrado entre las dos partes es la elaboración de un proyecto de ley para la creación de un plan de desarrollo especial a 10 años que beneficie al distrito de Buenaventura con la ejecución de proyectos, programas e iniciativas  financiadas a través de un patrimonio autónomo.”
 
Colombia’s government reaches agreement to end strike in largest port city
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, June 6, 2017
“The strike action in Buenaventura resulted from decades of utter neglect of the region coupled with unfulfilled promises by successive governments to address the situation in the port city.”

*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.