en English

Colombia News Brief for November 19 – December 16, 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


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.

NOTE: The Colombia News Brief will be on hiatus during the holiday season. We will resume the weekly briefs in mid-to-late January.

Do you know someone who might be interested in receiving the Colombia News Brief? Have them sign up here.

The Politics of Peace

•     Colombia’s Congress Approves Peace Accord With FARC
Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, 30 November 2016

“Colombia’s Congress approved a revised peace accord with the country’s largest rebel group on Wednesday night, a vote that was most likely the final hurdle in ratifying the troubled agreement whose earlier version had been rejected in a referendum this fall.”

•     Colombia’s peace deal has taken effect, but the country remains divided
The Economist, 10 December 2016

“Mr Santos hoped to close the book for good on Colombia’s 52 years of strife. Mercifully, the fighting chapter now seems to be over. The denouement, however, may still prove long and contentious.” 

•     La Corte Constitucional da luz verde al fast-track sin mayores condiciones
Juan Esteban Lewin, La Silla Vacía, 13 de diciembre de 2016

“[La corte] decidió que es constitucional que las leyes y reformas constitucionales necesarias para implementar el acuerdo con las Farc se tramiten por una vía rápida en el Congreso, conocida como fast-track, y las facultades extraordinarias para que el Presidente saque decretos con fuerza de ley para lo mismo. Pero también dijo que el Congreso debe volver a refrendar, verificando que el proceso de refrendación haya cumplido unos requisitos que es fácil decir que sí cumplió.”

•     Colombian court gives big boost to peace deal with FARC rebels
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, 13 December 2016

“Colombia’s peace deal with leftist rebels cleared a critical hurdle Tuesday as the country’s highest court ruled in favor of the government’s “fast-track” plan to quickly implement the agreement… [T]he streamlined approach reduces the number of legislative sessions and allows for up-or-down votes on the key elements of the accord. It effectively prevents lawmakers from making changes to the deal signed by the government and the rebels Nov. 24.”

 •     Cinco puntos clave de la sentencia del Fast Track
Semana, 14 de diciembre de 2016
“(1) La Corte dijo que el fast track es especial, excepcional y transitorio para lograr un fin imperioso como la paz… (2) La refrendación popular exige que la participación ciudadana sea directa… (3) El Congreso de la República debe constatar si hubo o no refrendación popular… (4) La Corte Constitucional volverá a evaluar si se presentó una refrendación popular… (5) La Corte dijo que el fast track no suprime los controles que preservan el equilibrio de poderes.”

•     Colombia, en modo ‘fast track’
Semana, 15 de diciembre de 2016

“Este jueves, Colombia pareció amanecer en un nuevo estado de excepción, hasta ahora no contemplado en la Constitución. Se podría denominar ‘Estado Fast Track’ y sus primeras consecuencias están repercutiendo en el Congreso de la República, donde, en las últimas horas, se han presenciado situaciones jamás vistas, todas ellas a una velocidad vertiginosa. Tanto que lo que sucede en el capitolio en la mañana, al medio día es periódico de ayer.” 

•     ¿Cómo entender la ley de amnistía?
El Espectador, 14 de diciembre de 2016

“Darle vida legal a lo pactado con la guerrilla en La Habana es un reto que requerirá de la voluntad de senadores y representantes, y de su responsabilidad a la hora de informar qué es y qué no es cierto de lo que se ha dicho en torno a la ley de amnistía radicada en el Congreso.” 

•     Amnistía no será para quienes cometieron crímenes de guerra: Gobierno
El Tiempo, 15 de diciembre de 2016

“El ministro del Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, explicó este jueves que el proyecto de ley de amnistía que se tramitará en el Congreso ‘en ningún caso’ cobijará a quienes estén señalados por delitos atroces. De acuerdo con el funcionario, este beneficio se aplicará solamente para quienes están ‘investigados o condenados solo por el delito de rebelión y los conexos tradicionales’.”

•     Colombia’s opposition renews call for ‘civil resistance’ against peace process
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, 23 November 2016

“Jose Obdulio Gaviria, a cousin of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar and now a senator for Uribe’s Democratic Center party, said his party will ‘ignore’ the new agreement if it is not endorsed by a referendum, and explained that actions of ‘civil resistance’ will be made by that political sector which will include mobilizations, ‘denunciations in the media and ‘disobedience’ in areas where possible.’”

•     Uribe maintains opposition to Colombia peace despite papal mediation
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, 16 Decedmber 2016

“The Pope hoped to mediate between the former allies and now bitter rivals in a bid to advance the implementation of the peace accord with the FARC rebels which Uribe continues to oppose. ‘You can not impose everything, your Holiness,’ Uribe said he had told the Pope claiming that the government needs to ‘loosen up’ the implementation of the deal.” 

•     Securing the Peace in Colombia
José R. Cárdenas, Foreign Affairs, 16 December 2016

“But for all of Santos’s tenacity and adroitness in responding to the October defeat, serious questions remain about the longer-term prospects for peace in Colombia. Burdened as the process is by the lack of political consensus, an untrustworthy partner, and a politically weak, lame-duck president, it may be that getting to this point will turn out to have been the easiest part of the entire effort.”

•     Colombia Needs Help to Make Peace Last
Bernard Aronson, The New York Times, 13 December 2016

“…As in the past, the United States should help Colombia reach that goal with continuing bipartisan support. Passage of President Obama’s request for $450 million in fiscal 2017 for an economic assistance program called Paz (Peace) Colombia would send the hemisphere, where support for Colombia’s peace process is universal, an encouraging signal about American staying power.”

•     US congressmen urge action to stop killing of Colombia community leaders
Jack Norman, Colombia Reports, 15 December 2016

“In a letter to Kerry, Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and three dozen other Democratic Congressmen urged the Secretary of State to send Ambassador Kevin Whitaker to the most affected areas in Colombia, among other actions, including providing ‘protection so that [social leaders} may continue exercising their invaluable leadership and work.'”

•     Republicans threaten to block US aid for Colombia peace process
Jack Norman, Colombia Reports, 11 December 2016

“In a letter to the president dated Thursday, Republican Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) wrote that they believe the Colombian government asked Obama to release “Simon Trinidad,” who is serving a 60-year sentence at a maximum security prison for conspiracy… ‘We ask you to reaffirm that the US will not offer or agree to the transfer or release of Simon Trinidad to Colombia or anywhere else,’ the senators wrote Obama. ‘If such a transfer were to take place, US funding for the implementation of the peace accord between the government of Colombia and the FARC will be put in jeopardy.’”

•     Fondo fiduciario, nuevo apoyo de la Unión Europea a la paz de Colombia
Juana García Duque y Juan David Martínez, El Tiempo, 12 de diciembre de 2016

“Dentro del debate de la financiación para el posconflicto, hay grandes expectativas sobre los recursos internacionales. Aunque los recursos serán limitados, los cooperantes ya iniciaron la creación de fondos para apoyar el posconflicto, como el de la Unión Europea (UE) constituido este lunes en Bruselas. La presencia de los mismos plantea retos al Gobierno colombiano, dada la pluralidad de estos y la forma como se trasladarán a las zonas más necesitadas.” 

•     Santos receives Nobel prize as “tribute to the Colombian people”
Andy East, The City Paper, 10 December 2016

“‘I receive this award in name of the 8 million victims, which is the number of victims accumulated during 50 years of war,” Santos said at the ceremony. “Just six years ago, Colombians wouldn’t have dared to imagine the end of a war that we have suffered for half a century… Peace seemed like an impossible dream since very few remember what it was like to live in a country in peace.’” 

•     Colombia’s Santos Accepts Nobel, Urges Shift in Drug War
Karl Ritter, ABC News, 10 December 2016

“The president also used the Nobel podium to reiterate his call to ‘rethink’ the war on drugs, ‘where Colombia has been the country that has paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices.’ Santos has argued that the decades-old U.S.-promoted war on drugs has produced enormous violence and environmental damage in nations that supply cocaine, and needs to be supplanted by a global focus on easing laws prohibiting consumption of illegal narcotics.” 

•     Colombia’s President Hopes Nobel Prize Momentum Pushes Peace Deal to Finish Line
Kejal Vyas, The Wall Street Journal, 10 December 2016

“Mr. Santos said the award has given him momentum to end the Western Hemisphere’s last major conflict, an effort he called ‘a ray of hope’ for other war-torn countries in the world. ‘I must confess to you that this news came as if it were a gift from heaven,’ he said. ‘At a time when our ship felt adrift, the Nobel Prize was the tailwind that helped us to reach our destination.’”

•     Ecos de un discurso en el Nobel de Paz
Jairo Gómez, Semana, 13 de diciembre de 2016

“No se trata de quitarle importancia al acuerdo con las FARC, se trata de poner los pies sobre la tierra y pisar en firme, no sobre arena movediza. Es conveniente que la comunidad internacional sepa que la actual situación del país es delicada y que no estamos en el pórtico de la paz con el Ejército de Liberación Nacional; que el auge del paramilitarismo hoy no es una exageración de organizaciones sociales, defensores de Derechos Humanos y partidos de izquierda que ven a diario cómo sus dirigentes son asesinados.”

•     How Santos tarnished his peace prize
Daniel Wilkinson, Financial Times, 15 December 2016

“Many principled people have justified Santos’s willingness to sacrifice victims’ access to justice as a necessary price to pay to secure a peace deal with the Farc. But the final and arguably most egregious sacrifice was neither sought, nor approved, by Farc negotiators. It was, rather, a stunning capitulation to military commanders seeking impunity for atrocities committed by their troops—and taking advantage of the peace process to obtain it.”

The FARC and the Peace Process

•     Colombia’s D-Day: FARC’s 180-day demobilization and disarmament process begins
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, 1 December 2016

“Following congressional approval of a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels , the 180-day demobilization and disarmament process of Colombia’s oldest and largest guerrilla group begins Thursday.” 

Sibylla Brodzinsky, The Guardian, 14 December 2016
“The Farc leadership said in a statement that the five commanders, who were all part of guerrilla units located in far eastern Guaviare province, were pushed out of the group for failing to follow orders… The statement also suggests that the five commanders have a following, and a source with direct knowledge of the situation said there could be more than 50 guerrillas under the command of the rogue rebels.”
 
•     Colombia: Farc expels five leaders who ‘refused to accept peace’

BBC, 15 December 2016
“They have been named as Gentil Duarte, Euclides Mora, John Cuarenta, Giovanny Chuspas and Julian Chollo. One of them took part in the peace negotiations held in the Cuban capital, Havana, for nearly four years, Reuters news agency reported. It is suspected that they might have left their base with a group of fighters, money and arms and that they were no longer following orders from the Farc central command, says the BBC’s Natalio Cosoy in Bogota.”
 
•     Las Farc: ni solo narcos, ni solo revolucionarios

Juanita Vélez, La Silla Vacía, 15 de diciembre de 2016
“Esas disidencias, más otras que vienen desde mediados del año, confirman algo que muchos decían y que las Farc negaban, y es que hay regiones en las que los guerrilleros eran más narcos que revolucionarios. Pero al mismo tiempo, su movilización hacia las zonas de concentración también ha mostrado que en otras zonas cumplían un rol social y político clave de mantener cierto orden y justicia, lo que indica que tampoco eran solo la organización terrorista que durante décadas presentaron los gobiernos de turno.”
 
•     Colombia pardons 110 FARC rebels as part of peace deal

Al Jazeera, 15 December 2016
“‘I believe around 300 pardons could be granted in all,’ Justice Minister Jorge Londono told a press conference on Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency… Another 5,500 jailed soldiers, police officers and other state agents convicted of crimes linked to the conflict could also be released if their offences are minor, he said.”
 
•     Así será la agrupación política de las FARC que aterriza en el Congreso

Semana, 15 de diciembre de 2016
“Siguiendo al pie de la letra lo que quedó consignado en el acuerdo, este jueves un grupo de ciudadanos registrará ante el Consejo Nacional Electoral el movimiento político que se encargará de promover la “creación del futuro partido o movimiento que surja de la transición de las FARC”: Voces de Paz y Reconciliación.”
 
•     Listo movimiento que ayudará a la transición de las Farc a la política

El Tiempo, 15 de diciembre de 2016
“‘Voces de Paz y Reconciliación’ no es, como se ha dicho, el partido político de las Farc, pues este no podrá ser conformado oficialmente hasta que el grupo armado no deje por completo las armas y culmine su proceso de desmovilización… Sin embargo, según dijeron los miembros de la agrupación inscrita este jueves ante el CNE, el movimiento buscará dejar sentadas las condiciones para la transformación de las Farc en una organización política.”
 
•     El trecho que les falta a las zonas de concentración

Juanita Vélez, La Silla Vacía, 14 de diciembre de 2016
“Faltan dos semanas para que, el 31 de diciembre, las Farc terminen de llegar a las zonas de concentración y sin embargo varias de las 20 zonas y 7 campamentos todavía no están ni cerca de estar listas para alojarlos en los próximos seis meses. La demora se debe a problemas logísticos que no se solucionaron antes porque las Farc y el Gobierno se enredaron en la discusión sobre cómo debían ser las instalaciones en las que van a estar los guerrilleros mientras dejan las armas. Es una discusión que suena de forma, pero es de fondo porque tiene que ver con el futuro de las Farc.”
 
•     Las FARC se suman al mannequin challenge

Ana Marcos, La Nación, 10 de diciembre de 2016
“Si Michelle Obama, Beyoncé o Hillary Clinton han usado este reto viral para determinadas causas, las FARC recurren a esta estrategia para seguir explicando a los colombianos que no son como ellos aseguran que los han hecho parecer. No hay armas, ni tampoco uniformes militares o un decorado de guerra. La escena podría producirse en cualquier vereda de Colombia.”
 

The ELN
 
Mimi Yagoub, Insight Crime, 9 December 2016
“Rebels from Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group have been demobilizing from the insurgency at nearly double last year’s rate, adding weight to concerns that the guerrilla leadership is incapable of controlling its troops – a factor that will likely hinder attempts to negotiate peace with the government… Another worry is that divisions within the ELN could benefit dissident members of the FARC guerrilla organization…”
 
•     Las conversaciones sobre el diálogo del Gobierno de Colombia con el ELN se retomarán en enero

El Mundo, 12 de diciembre de 2016
“La delegación del Gobierno de Colombia en los diálogos con la guerrilla del Ejército Nacional de Liberación (ELN) anunció hoy que las conversaciones ‘para concretar de manera definitiva la fecha de instalación de la mesa pública’ de negociación entre ambas partes se retomarán el 10 de enero de 2017.”
 
•     Colombia’s ELN says peace talks will begin once rebels freed

Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, 4 December 2016
“The government has said the group must release ex-lawmaker Odin Sanchez, held in the jungle province of Choco, and stop attacks against oil infrastructure. ‘We agreed that all the liberations which have yet to take place will be done simultaneously and ahead of the start (of talks),’ Israel Ramirez, head of the ELN’s negotiating team and better known by his nom de guerre Pablo Beltran, told Reuters by phone. ‘The same day our two are pardoned, Mr. Sanchez will be free,’ said Ramirez.”
 

Human Rights and Land Rights Issues

Javier Lafuente, El País, 22 de noviembre de 2016
“Un panfleto mal escrito, con el sello de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) y un rifle, repartido por algunos de los municipios más golpeados por más de 50 años de conflicto, daba cuenta de la autoría de los crímenes de este fin de semana: ‘Somos las autodefensas de Colombia, llegamos al Caquetá y esta vez sí para quedarnos. Milicianos y testaferros de las FARC venimos a hacer limpieza’.”
 
•     New Murder Count of Colombian Human Rights Activists Doubles

TeleSur, 15 December 2016
“Over 100 human rights defenders have been murdered this year despite a cease-fire and a signed peace deal to end the internal armed conflict, according to new numbers that compile several counts. The majority of the murders were committed by paramilitaries and the national army in 24 of the 32 departments, reported El Espectador, which had figures twice as high as those estimated earlier by the U.N.”
 
•     Comisión de la ONU investigará asesinato de líderes en Colombia [VIDEO]

TeleSur, 20 de noviembre de 2016
“Una comisión de la ONU visitará el departamento de Nariño para investigar la muerte de los dirigentes comunitarios Rodrigo Cabrera y Danilo Bolaños Díaz.”
 
•     ’94 peasant leaders assassinated in Colombia so far this year’

Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, 12 December 2016
“[Cumbre Agraria] said Sunday that 94 of its regional leaders have been assassinated so far this year, a 49% increase compared to the same period last year… According to the Cumbre Agraria, its organization has not been subject to so much deadly violence since 2010, the year President Juan Manuel Santos took over the presidency from his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. Seventy-three of the killings were carried out by paramilitary death squads, four by the police, three by the army and 14 by unknown actors, the group said.”
 
•     Latin America has most unequal land distribution, Colombia fares worst

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 November 2016
“Land distribution in Latin America is the most unequal in the world where only one percent of the farms and estates control more than half of the region’s productive land, aid group Oxfam said on Wednesday. Colombia, where two thirds of agricultural land is concentrated in just 0.4 percent of farmland holdings, fares the worst, Oxfam said in a report analysing land censuses and policy in 15 countries over the last 50 years.”
 
•     Rape and murder of 7-year-old girl sparks outrage in Colombia. But will it lead to real change?

Manuel Rueda, Fusion, 8 December 2016
“Colombia’s Institute for Forensic Medicine says it conducted legal rape tests on 18,876 women last year, which means there was an average of 51 suspected rape cases each day across the country. [Olga Sánchez, a member of the women’s rights group Casa de la Mujer,] says Colombian culture needs to stop treating women as if their bodies are an “object that anyone can use.” She also said the government needs to provide more safehouses for at-risk women.”
 
•     Colombia: brutal rape and death of girl shocks country marred by crime

Sibylla Brodzinsky, The Guardian, 12 December 2016
“The crime has sparked nationwide calls for harsher penalties for child rapists in a country where as many as 40 children are sexually abused every day, according to official statistics. While some protesters demanded chemical castration for rapists, others pressed for mandatory life sentences. Colombia made femicide – defined as a gender-based hate crime involving the killing of women – a crime in 2015.”
 
•     Colombia aprueba celebrar un referéndum para decidir si los gais pueden adoptar

Sally Palomino, El País, 14 de diciembre de 2016
“Los colombianos irían a las urnas para decidir quiénes pueden adoptar. Aunque la Corte Constitucional avaló hace un año, en una histórica sentencia, la adopción por parte de parejas del mismo sexo, el Senado aprobó este martes un referendo para modificar la Constitución para que solo las parejas constituidas por un hombre y una mujer puedan adoptar. Con esto, ni las parejas gais, ni las personas solteras o viudas podrían hacerlo… Sin embargo, las protestas y el rechazo de las organizaciones de derechos humanos y grupos LGTBI se han intensificado.”

 


*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.