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Colombia News Brief for March 10-16, 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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cocaleros-guaviare-1
Manual eradicators in Los Alpes, Guaviare on March 1. Photo posted by Colombia’s Verdad Abierta investigative journalism website.

Politics of Peace

• Worse than the Jungle? Colombian Guerrillas Chafe Under New Living Conditions
Pedro Portal and Jim Wyss, Miami Herald, March 15, 2017
“For more than 50 years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas have lived in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet: deep in the jungle, surrounded by threats and far from the nearest amenity. But almost four months after the government and the FARC signed a historic peace deal, some of the fighters are chafing at living conditions in government-provided camps that they say are, in some ways, even worse.”

• Forced Displacement Growing in Colombia Despite Peace Agreement
UNHCR, March 10, 2017
“Violence continues to uproot thousands of people in Colombia, despite a peace agreement signed last November between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”

• Colombia Prematurely Claims Victory in Fight for Former FARC Turf
Mimi Yagoub, Insight Crime, March 8, 2017
“Colombia’s Defense Minister has declared that the state has “already won” the battle to occupy the territories being left behind by the FARC guerrillas as the rebels demobilize. But the government looks more like the losing player in some areas, as heavily armed groups fight openly in strategic turf and, as InSight Crime investigations show, criminalized guerrilla factions are appearing all across the country.”

 • Comunicado Conjunto No 13
Oficina del Alto Comisionado para la Paz, 16 de marzo de 2017
“La Comisión de Seguimiento, Impulso y Verificación a la Implementación del Acuerdo Final (CSIVI) informa que: De conformidad con el punto 6.2 “Capítulo Étnico” del Acuerdo Final que establece la creación de una Alta Instancia con Pueblos Étnicos para el seguimiento de la implementación de los acuerdos, se acordó entre el Gobierno Nacional, las FARC-EP y las organizaciones representativas de los Pueblos Étnicos los siguientes lineamientos para su puesta en marcha: Instancia Especial de Alto Nivel con Pueblos Étnicos para el Seguimiento de la Implementación del Acuerdo Final.”

 Colombia to Set up Special War Crimes Courts
AFP, March 14, 2017

“Colombia’s senate late on Monday approved a constitutional reform to set up special war crimes courts, a key component of the historic peace agreement with FARC guerrillas that ended five decades of war.”

• Así se resolvieron los pulsos alrededor de la JEP
Tatiana Duque, La Silla Vacía, 14 de marzo de 2017
“La plenaria del Senado aprobó en último debate la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP), el sistema que juzgará a todos los integrantes de las Farc que hayan dejado las armas y estén en las zonas veredales de concentración, y a los agentes del Estado que hayan cometido delitos con relación al conflicto armado. También a los civiles que tuvieron una participación determinante en la guerra.”

• Colombia: Providing Aid After FARC Peace Deal
Euro News, March 3, 2017
“The peace deal is pushing the guerrilla group away and new balances are emerging. As a humanitarian donor, the EU is following the situation closely. “The country still has a number of other armed groups that not only have not signed the peace agreement, but are in increased competition to recover territory. That has resulted in a number of consequences for the population especially in rural areas, particularly in terms of forced displacement,” explained Hilaire Avril, EU Humanitarian Aid”

• Can Colombia Actually Put its Peace Plan into Action?
The Conversation, March 13, 2017
“In truth, the challenges in implementing the accords are more indicative of the major difference in capacity between the national government and local state institutions. The centralisation camps are setting up shop, logically, in areas where the FARC had formerly exerted its influence. But because they used to be controlled by the FARC, local government in these areas is fragile.”

 Colombia has a Peace Deal, but Can it be Implemented?
Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2017

“The euphoria that followed the historic peace deal signed by the Colombian government and FARC rebels is giving way to the sobering realities surrounding its implementation. Some analysts fear the financial, political and security challenges may be too much for the Colombian government to handle.”

• Sabotaging Peace
Tobias Franz, Jacobin, March 9, 2017
“To overcome the cycle of poverty, dependence on drug income, and violence, there is little time left to pressure the government to swiftly and thoroughly implement the peace agreement. Grassroots activists’ calls for real peace, including reconciliation, justice, and truth need to be supported. Social leaders in the marginalized zones… need to be protected, or anything that might be put into practice will be too little, too late.”

• Colombia President Santos Apologises for Illegal Funds Paid Into Campaign
The Wire, March 15, 2017

“Without specifying amounts, the Colombian attorney general’s office has alleged Santos‘ successful 2010 and 2014 campaigns received money from Odebrecht, which is engulfed in a region-wide corruption scandal.”

Counternarcotics

• Confronting Colombia’s Coca Boom Requires Patience and a Commitment to the Peace Accords
Adam Isacson, WOLA, March 13, 2017
“In the vast areas of Colombia’s countryside where evidence of government is scarce, you can see the bright green bushes once again growing up to the roadside. They’re usually knee-high, indicating that they were planted recently. They’re in the same parts of the country as before: farmers don’t seem to be cutting down new forest and growing in new areas. Usually, it is one of several cash crops on a farmer’s land: at least some of the legal crops are more profitable, he or she will tell you, but with prices fixed by armed groups or organized crime, coca offers the steadiest income.”

• Cultivation of Coca, the Leaf Used to Make Cocaine, Soars Anew in Colombia
Juan Forero, The Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2017
“The coca leaf used to make cocaine has made such a dramatic comeback in this country that plantings now cover more territory than they did before a multibillion-dollar U.S.-sponsored eradication campaign began 16 years ago, U.S. and Colombian officials said.”

• US Estimates Highest-Ever Colombia Coca Production
Mike LaSusa, Insight Crime, March 14, 2017
“New US government estimates of coca production in Colombia indicate the South American country is growing more of the drug-producing crop than ever before, a development that is likely driving changes in underworld dynamics across the Americas and the globe.”

• With Rebels Gone, Colombia Jumps Into the Pot Industry
Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, March 9, 2017
“Colombia has received billions of dollars in American aid to eradicate the drug trade. But in the coming weeks, the government says, it will begin processing licenses for a small number of companies, including PharmaCies, under a 2015 law that allows the cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Human Rights Issues

Informe anual del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Colombia
Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas
“En este informe, el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos celebra el acuerdo de paz alcanzado entre el Gobierno de Colombia y las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP).” 

 Killing the Attorney with Evidence Colombia’s Military Assassinated 6,000 Civilians
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, March 14, 2017
“The attorney who on behalf of victims has gathered evidence of the assassination of 6,000 civilians by Colombia’s military is fearing for his life after numerous death threats.”

• Líderes comunitarios denuncian amenazas en Montes de María
El Espectador, 9 de marzo de 2017

“Seis líderes comunitarios del “Proceso pacífico de reconciliación de la Alta Montaña” pidieron esta semana a las autoridades que no los abandone y que los cuide de amenazas en su contra. En una denuncia radicada ante la Fiscalía, Ciro Canoles asegura que hay sido blanco de intimidaciones por su trabajo con la comunidad y que podrían estar relacionadas por sus reclamos por el supuesto uso indebido de las aguas de un arroyo.”

• Chocó, el triste título del rey del desplazamiento
Laura Silva, La Silla Vacia, 8 de marzo de 2017
“El pasado fin de semana se desplazaron más de 400 personas del municipio de Alto Baudó, en medio de enfrentamientos entre el ELN y las Autodefensas Gaitanistas. Es el cuarto desplazamiento este año en Chocó, el departamento que el año pasado ocupó el primer lugar en la lista de departamentos con más desplazamientos masivos ( de más de 50 personas) del país.”


*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.