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Colombia News Brief for June 27 – July 5, 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. Throughout the summer months, dependent on the capacity of LAWG, the Colombia News Brief will be sent out either weekly or bi-weekly.

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Photo: Nicolas Bedoya


Feature: The FARC turn in the last of their weapons

FARC Guerrillas Turn in their Weapons: An End to Fifty Years of War
Lisa Haugaard and Andrea Fernández Aponte, Latin America Working Group, June 27, 2017
“Despite the obstacles, however, the turnover of weapons has now taken place. It is notable that the ceasefire has held, overcoming tense moments, with both FARC and the Colombian armed forces adhering to their commitments. Colombia is experiencing its lowest level of homicides in decades.”

United Nations Mission Receives the Balance of Individual Arms From the Farc-Ep in Accordance With the 29 May Road Map
UN Mission in Colombia, June 26, 2017
“As of today, the Mission has stored the totality of individual arms of the FARC-EP that were registered: 7132 arms, with the exception of those that, in accordance with the Road Map, will be used to provide security in the 26 FARC-EP camps until 1 August 2017.”

“Goodbye, Weapons!” FARC Disarmament in Colombia Signals New Era
Nicholas Casey and Joe Parkin Daniels, New York Times, June 27, 2017
“The Colombian government must now tackle a host of challenges under the complicated peace agreement with the FARC, which took years to negotiate. Special tribunals are to be established to settle war-crimes cases, and farmers are to be given incentives to stop growing coca leaf. (The rebels largely controlled the cocaine trade in Colombia.)”

Las Farc inician camino a la política sin armas
Verdad Abierta, 28 de junio de 2017
“Pese a esto, reiteró que de ahora en adelante la única arma de este grupo será la palabra y su lucha será “exigir una implementación práctica de lo acordado”, pero siempre desde lo pacífico y civilizado. ‘Nuestro cumplimiento nos llena de autoridad para exigirle a la contraparte,’ dijo Rodrigo Londoño, conocido en las filas guerrilleras como ‘Timochenko’.”

Proceso de paz: por qué la apatía
Semana, 1 de julio de 2017
“A pesar de la entrega de las 7.000 armas de las Farc, según Invamer Gallup el 65 por ciento de los colombianos todavía no están convencidos del fin de la guerra con ese grupo guerrillero.”

Las Farc se desarman sin fiesta y en medio del escepticismo
Juanita León, New York Times Español, 27 de junio de 2017
“…a pesar del inmenso logro del presidente Juan Manuel Santos para desactivar este movimiento insurgente, en Colombia no se vive una fiesta. El pesimismo ha alcanzado niveles récord según la última encuesta Gallup e igual de negativos son los niveles de aprobación de la gestión del presidente Santos y la percepción sobre lo que puede traer el acuerdo de paz.”

Peace Accord Implementation

UN: Reintegrating ex-fighters is first challenge in Colombia
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, June 30, 2017
“The reintegration of combatants is ‘the first and most urgent challenge,’ but the peace process ‘must also respond to the needs and expectations of the more vulnerable sectors of Colombian society,’ Head of the UN Mission in Colombia Jean Arnault said.”

Peace is Breaking Out in Colombia
Kimberly Curtis, UN Dispatch, June 29, 2017
“But accepting a peace agreement and implementing it are two different things. Despite an indefinite ceasefire, disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating thousands of fighters, many of whom know nothing but war, into the society they fought against is a significant task. That is why news from the UN that it successfully collected weapons from all of FARC’s 7,000 fighters is such a big deal. Even though the fighters will stay in demobilization camps until July, by giving up their weapons FARC is turning a corner that would be extremely difficult to walk back from.”

EDITORIAL: La paz está cerca (pero esto es lo que falta todavía)
¡Pacifista!, 27 de junio de 2017
“Es un paso trascendental, pero es apenas el primero. Para que las bases de la paz sean sólidas y estables es necesario poner en marcha la institucionalidad para que el Estado salde la deuda histórica que tiene con los campesinos.”

UN will establish second mission to remain in Colombia until 2020
UN Mission in Colombia, June 30, 2017
“We are honoured by the request from the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP to establish a second verification mission focused on reintegration and wider security guarantees, and to begin as soon as possible…Like the first mission, the second one will be as much about fostering cooperation and building confidence as it will be about verification as such.”

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Colombia – March 25 to June 23, 2017

UN Mission in Colombia, June 30, 2017
“The achievement of this major milestone in the peace process followed intensive negotiations between the Government and the FARC-EP to reach consensus on a roadmap of mutual commitments to enable the full laying down of weapons in camps and the collection of weapons in arms caches.”

Así funcionarán los negocios lícitos de las FARC
Semana, 30 de junio de 2017
“A diferencia de otros procesos de paz, los excombatientes de las Farc se reincorporarán a la vida civil colectivamente, bajo esquemas de cooperativas, que trabajarán de lleno en los territorios donde antes hicieron la guerra.”

Autoridades deben enfocarse en los nuevos grupos armados
Ricardo Monsalve Gaviria, El Colombiano, 28 de junio de 2017
“Si bien son 7.132 armas que salieron de circulación gracias a la firma del Acuerdo de Paz entre el Gobierno y las Farc, las autoridades del país no pueden bajar la guardia en regiones donde aún hay presencia de varios grupos armados ilegales que cuentan con gran variedad de material bélico, el cual va desde una pistola calibre nueve milímetros hasta un lanzacohetes tipo RPG con capacidad de derribar aeronaves a corta distancia.”

Colombia’s Peace Accord and the Prospects of the War System
Nazih Richani, AULA Blog, June 27, 2017
“A coalition of political and social groups, however, continues efforts to stymie implementation of the accord.  It includes large landowners, cattle ranchers, agribusinesses, ultra-right religious groups, and extractive multinational corporations.  Its leading spokesmen are former President Álvaro Uribe and former Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez, who are spearheading a vigorous campaign arguing that President Juan Manuel Santos and his government conceded too much to the FARC, compromising private property rights, the prevailing land-tenure system, and the country’s Christian values.”

Colombia’s Coca Growers Feel Left Behind Despite Farc Deal
Mira Galanova, Deutsche Welle, June 27, 2017
“There are hopes that the government has learnt from past failures. The current National Program for Replacing Crops for Illicit Use (PNIS) offers the farmers technical assistance and a basic income during the first 20 months to help them transition from coca cultivation to legal businesses. The incentives amount to 36 million pesos (11,000 euros) per family, distributed over a period of two years.”

Piden tumbar el programa de sustitución de cultivos ilícitos
Redacción Judical, El Espectador, 29 de junio de 2017
“Este miércoles, el Procurador General de la Nación, Fernando Carrillo Flórez le envió un concepto a la Corte Constitucional pidiendo suspender el Decreto Ley 896 de 2017, por medio del cual se crea el Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (Pnis).”

Colombia and Drugs: Rex Tillerson’s ‘Coca Confusion’
Adam Isaacson (WOLA), The Crime Report, June 27, 2017
“Instead of scolding and “pressing” Colombia (Secretary Tillerson’s word) to readopt an old solution whose record is mixed at best, or making the bilateral relationship all about cocaine (essentially bringing us back to the 1990s), the U.S. could be doing more to help make the plan laid out in the peace accords a reality.”

New Zealand pledges $1 million to help clear landmines in Colombia
Reuters, June 30, 2017
“New Zealand is giving $1 million in aid to help clear landmines in Colombia, one of the most mine-scarred countries in the world after a half century of war, officials said on Friday.”

Explainer: Colombia’s 2018 Elections
Holly K. Sonneland, Council of the Americas, June 28, 2017
“While the peace processes with the guerrilla groups FARC and ELN dominate international headlines, just 5% of Colombians say those are the country’s top issues while 63% say domestic issues of unemployment, healthcare, and corruption are.”
“Colombia’s 2018 elections are historic for at least one reason: it’ll be the first time former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, aka the FARC, will be able to vote and run as candidates for the legislature—or even the presidency. Turning their illegal armed fight into a legal political one was one of the foundational terms of their peace talks with the government, which wrapped up in August 2016 after almost six years of negotiations.”

ELN Peace Talks

Colombia and ELN rebels move peace talks toward ceasefire
Reuters, June 30, 2017
“Colombia’s government and Marxist ELN rebels agreed to work toward a ceasefire, both sides said on Friday, a move that would improve security in the country where a peace accord with another guerrilla group led to its disarmament last week.”

COLOMBIA: Government And ELN Complete Second Round Of Peace Talks In Quito
RTTNews, July 2, 2017
“The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla concluded today the second round of peace talks in Quito. Both sides agreed to create a joint team for peace and a group of countries to follow and cooperate with the negotiations.”

Human Rights Issues

Deadly Pattern of Violence Claims the Life of Respected Colombian Human Rights Defenders
Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Washington Office on Latin America, June 28, 2017
“As implementation of the Colombian peace process moves forward, violence against human rights defenders continues. June was a particularly difficult month for Afro-Colombian organizations and their leaders after Bernardo Cuero Bravo, leader of the Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados, AFRODES) was murdered in his home in Malambo, Atlántico.“

While FARC was demobilizing, 37 social leaders were assassinated in Colombia
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, June 28, 2017
“Between a peace agreement with Colombia’s government and the disarmament of the country’s largest guerrilla group FARC, 37 social leaders were assassinated in the country. Many others remain under imminent threat.”

Pronunciamiento de Familiares de Víctimas de Desaparición Forzada
Fundación Nydia Erika Bautista, 23 de junio de 2017
“En la presente fecha, nos dirigimos a ustedes para referirnos al Acuerdo Humanitario suscrito por las Partes en la Mesa de diálogos de Paz y al Decreto 589/17 que organiza la nueva Unidad de Búsqueda de Personas Desaparecidas, que hoy se encuentra en sus manos para su estudio de constitucionalidad.”

Colombia Anticorruption Official Is Arrested in U.S. Bribery Case
Frances Robles, New York Times, June 27, 2017
“Colombia’s top anticorruption prosecutor was arrested Tuesday in his country’s capital after Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Miami said they had recorded him in South Florida at meetings where a former Colombian governor was asked to pay bribes in exchange for favorable treatment and names of witnesses.”

Colombia’s Court acquits prominent indigenous leader
Telesur, June 29, 2017
“Colombia’s Supreme Court acquitted a prominent Indigenous leader Wednesday, almost two years after he was arrested. The court annulled a previous ruling by Popayan’s superior court, which sentenced Feliciano Valencia, who received the National Peace Award in 2000, for allegedly kidnapping an army soldier in 2008 in Cauca, one of the regions most affected by Colombia’s internal armed conflict.”

Feliciano Valencia es inocente: Corte Suprema de Justicia
Redacción Judicial, El Espectador, 28 de junio de 2017
“Por el secuestro del cabo del Ejército Jairo Danilo Chaparral Santiago, el 14 de octubre de 2008, el líder indígena Feliciano Valencia fue condenado a 18 años de cárcel por el Tribunal Superior de Popayán. Que un juez de la justicia ordinaria sentenciara de esta manera a un indígena causó polémica pues, alegaba la comunidad de Valencia, según la Constitución es la justicia indígena la que se debe encargar de estos casos.”

*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.