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Colombia News Brief for March 4-9, 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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Door in Bogotá. Photo by Andrea Fernández Aponte.


The Politics of Peace

•  Colombia and Former Rebels are Trying to Build Peace, One Tent at a Time
Kate Sheppard, Huffington Post, March 6, 2017
“Icononzo is one of 26 transition zones established in rural regions the FARC had historically controlled. The peace deal ― which came after years of negotiations and a failed national referendum ― began a six-month process in which nearly 7,000 FARC guerrillas have been relocating to these zones to demobilize and begin reintegrating into civil society.”

•  Reincorporación de las Farc no puede fracasar”: Jean Arnault
Semana, 4 de marzo de 2017
“El jefe de la misión política de la ONU, explica en qué va el desarme de las Farc y da campanazos de alerta sobre el futuro que les espera a los combatientes de esa guerrilla.”

•  Zona Veredal de las Farc en Policarpa, entre acuerdos y desacuerdos
Verdad Abierta, 9 de marzo de 2017
“Habitantes de este municipio del departamento de Nariño ya empezaron a sustituir sus matas de hoja de coca, pero las ayudas no son suficientes; allí esperan que mejore la atención en salud y le piden a las Farc que detenga la deforestación en los nacimientos de agua.”

•  Senior US Diplomat Informs Colombia of Possible Cuts in Anti-Drug Aid
Latin American Herald Tribune, March 8, 2017
“The United States’ government has informed Colombia of possible cuts in anti-drug aid and said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was still considered a major drug-trafficking organization and an international terrorist group.”

•  American Cocaine Use is Way Up. Colombia’s Coca Boom Might Be Why.
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, March 4, 2017

“While much of the recent attention on drug abuse in the United States has focused on the heroin and opioid epidemic, cocaine has also been making a comeback. It appears to be a case of supply driving demand.”

 Blaming Colombia for America’s Excessive Drug Habit
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, March 5, 2017
“If you have a drug problem, blaming the producer of the ingredients of that drug is clearly a cop-out and no step on the road to recovery. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what the US government insist on doing, with disastrous consequences.”

•  Colombia FARC Women Rebels Plan for Life After War
The Guardian, March 6, 2017
“With their rifles, green fatigues and black rubber boots, the women fighters of the FARC rebel force have become one of the international faces of Colombia’s civil war. Soon the photographs that have fascinated world media will be for the history books. Thousands of them are preparing to lay down their guns and return to civilian life.After more than half a century of conflict, the FARC’s disarmament is due to be completed by May under a peace deal with the Colombian government.”

•  Equals in the Jungle, Colombia’s Women Guerrillas Brace for New, Macho World
Anastasia Moloney, NBC News, March 6, 2017
“Armed with an AK-47, Gladis was expected to fight on the frontline alongside her FARC guerrilla comrades, hoist heavy loads and stand guard, just as the men in rebel ranks did. That’s real gender equality, said 42-year-old Gladis who has fought with the Marxist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), for more than two decades. “We are all equal here. Everyone is treated the same,” said Gladis, at a mountaintop demobilization zone in northern Colombia where around 160 FARC fighters have gathered to disarm.”

 Colombia’s Santos May have Received Odebrecht Contributions
Joshua Goodman, The Washington Post, March 6, 2017

“A corruption scandal that has spread across Latin America is inching closer to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos amid new evidence that suggests a Brazilian construction company paid $1 million for an opinion poll carried out during his re-election campaign.”

•  Odebrecht Denies Paying FARC to Build in Rebel-Controlled Zones
Telesur, March 6, 2017

“Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht denied allegations that it gave thousands of dollars over the past 20 years to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to guarantee and safeguard its operations in Colombia.” 

•  FARC, Mafia, Politicians Among Odebrecht’s Alleged Colombia Connections
Mimi Yagoub, Insight Crime, March 6, 2017
“Revelations that the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht financed Colombia’s FARC rebels deepens the plot of an international corruption scandal, and raises questions about how Colombian authorities will handle the issue of criminal finances in the imminent future.”


Ongoing Peace Talks with the ELN

 ELN and Paramilitary Fighting Displaces Hundreds of Colombians
Telesur, March 7, 2017
“Hundreds of Colombians were displaced in the country’s northwest over the weekend as fighting erupted between members of the National Liberation Army, ELN, and Colombia’s paramilitary group, Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AGC, commonly known as “Los Urabeños.”

•  Más de 340 personas fueron desplazadas por enfrentamientos entre Eln y Agc en Chocó
El Espectador, 6 de marzo de 2017

“El conflicto obligó a 180 familias a huir el sábado al anochecer. A causa del enfrentamiento, los ciudadanos tuvieron que desplazarse a la cabecera municipal del Alto Baudó, en Pie de Pató.”

 El ELN y la Paz
Antonio Caballero, Semana, 4 de marzo de 2016

“Tiene razón de sobra Juan Camilo Restrepo, jefe negociador del gobierno, cuando le dice al ELN que al cese del fuego y de hostilidades se llega de-sescalando la confrontación, y no escalándola, como pretende ese grupo guerrillero con atentados terroristas como el de hace 15 días en Bogotá, que mató a un policía, dejó ciegos a otros dos y heridos a 21 más y a seis civiles que pasaban por ahí.”


Human Rights Issues

•  Is Colombia Going from War to Peace to Genocide?
Mira Galanova, Colombia Reports, March 6, 2017

“With at least 23 social leaders killed in three months of peace with the FARC, community leaders are terrified they are at the dawn of a wave of paramilitary violence not seen in Colombia since the 1990s.”

•  Colombian Coal Mine Expansion Imposes Suffering on Rural Indigenous
W.T. Whitney, People’s World, March 6, 2017
“The Wayúu indigenous people make up nearly half the population of La Guajira department in Colombia’s extreme northeast. They won’t be finding much peace from the agreement Colombia’s government and FARC insurgents signed in late 2016 to end their war. The government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said as much in 2012 when negotiations were beginning.”

•  Líderes sociales pasan la noche en sede de Mininterior para pedir al Gobierno que los escuche
El Espectador, 8 de marzo de 2017
“Miembros de Cumbre Agraria se congregaron en el Edificio Bancol solicitando la presencia del presidente Santos y varios ministros, pero ninguno llegó. Piden cumplir lo acordado en 2014 y protección ante los asesinatos y amenazas.”

•  Defensoría alerta que en los últimos 14 meses fueron asesinados 120 líderes sociales
El Espectador, 3 de marzo de 2017
“El defensor del pueblo también manifestó que se tiene conocimiento sobre 430 amenazas contra los defensores de derechos humanos y líderes sociales.”

•  Ya van 56 capturados por muertes de líderes sociales en el país
El Tiempo, 9 de marzo de 2017
“El asesinato de William Castillo Chimá, perpetrado el 17 de marzo del año pasado en el Bajo Cauca antioqueño, es, hasta ahora, el primer crimen –de 74 en investigación cometidos entre el 2016 y 2017– que la justicia atribuye directamente a actividades de defensa de derechos humanos y liderazgo político en las regiones.

•  VIDEO: ¿Quién está matando a los líderes sociales?
Semana
“Este Miércoles María Jimena Duzán debatió con Juan Carlos Restrepo, director de seguridad de la Presidencia de la República, Todd Howland, representante de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos en Colombia, Diana Sánchez, coordinara del programa Somos Defensores y Andrés Gil, vocero de Marcha Patriótica sobre el alarmante aumento de  asesinatos a líderes sociales y defensores de Derechos Humanos.” 


Civil Society & International Organizations

•  IACHR Examines Progress and Challenges in the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia
Organization of American States, March 6, 2017

“In a context in which human rights defenders in Colombia are facing increased threats and killings, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) participated in a workshop on promoting and protecting defenders’ work in that country. The Commission’s participation in this workshop is part of its activities to support the process to implement the Peace Agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”

•  Colombia: Paramilitaries force hundreds off their homes as conflict persists
Amnesty International, March 7, 2017

“The authorities in Colombia are adamant that all paramilitaries have been demobilized but reality tells a different story. Instead of denying paramilitaries are still active, the authorities must take action to protect those communities these groups are terrorizing”

•  ACNUR manifiesta su preocupación por la situación humanitaria en las comunidades del Pacífico colombiano
UNHCR, 8 de marzo de 2017

“ACNUR insta a las autoridades a fortalecer las medidas de atención, asistencia, prevención y protección dentro de los territorios afectados. Urge, así mismo, poner en marcha los planes de contingencia elaborados en el marco de los Comités de Justicia Transicional, así como la respuesta de otras instituciones nacionales.”

•  ICRC Releases Report on Humanitarian Situation in Colombia
International Committee of the Red Cross, March 9, 2017

“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) observed a clear reduction in the impact of the internal armed conflict on the civilian population in Colombia in 2016. The bilateral ceasefire between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) and the Colombian government was a milestone and brought about a significant decrease in the fighting and its human cost. Nevertheless, the ICRC highlighted that swifter progress was required on other issues of humanitarian concern, such as searching for missing people, clearing landmines and demobilizing minors from the ranks of the FARC.”

•  Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz en Colombia debería incluir el concepto de responsabilidad penal de los superiores en su totalidad
Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, 7 de marzo de 2017
“En este análisis jurídico, el experto del Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (CICR) en Colombia, Daniel Cahen, argumenta que las reticencias sobre la integración del concepto de responsabilidad del superior en el marco de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP) erosionarían la credibilidad del sistema de justicia transicional acordado en la Habana y generarían inseguridad jurídica.”


*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.