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Colombia News Brief for October 12 – October 19 2019

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Welcome to LAWG’s Colombia News Brief, a compilation of top articles and reports on issues of peace, justice, human rights, and more in Colombia.

Source: Pablo Tosco / Oxfam

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

Así avanza la alianza entre la Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres y la Comisión de la Verdad
Agencia de Información Laboral, 15 de octubre de 2019 
“Esta semana se realizó un encuentro entre la Comisión y la Ruta para analizar cuáles han sido los logros y las dificultades del proceso conjunto y colaborativo que se adelanta y que ha permitido realizar 1.000 entrevistas en diferentes territorios. Durante los pasados 9 y 10 de octubre, la Comisión de la Verdad se encontró con más de 24 documentadoras de la Ruta Pacífica de la Mujeres, quienes han asumido la tarea de recolectar entrevistas en diferentes territorios del país que permitan escuchar la voz de las mujeres, entender los hechos e impactos diferenciados que la guerra ocasionó sobre ellas, y las diferentes maneras en que los han asumido y afrontado.”

Colombia, United States Agree To Speed Up The Prosecution Of Former Insurgents
Diálogo, October 15, 2019
“Colombia and the United States agreed to speed up the exchange of legal evidence to prosecute former leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish) Jesús Santrich, Iván Márquez, and other guerrillas who announced the creation of a new armed group, believed to be receiving protection from the Nicolás Maduro regime.Colombian Minister of Justice Margarita Cabello made the announcement in an interview with Voice of America. Colombia hopes to access the testimony of Marlon Marín, a protected witness of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who appears in a video with Santrich, allegedly negotiating a cocaine shipment to the United States, which occurred after the signing of the peace process.”

Political, Ethnic, and Civil Society Activists Remain at Risk in Colombia
Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, WOLA, October 14, 2019 
“The consequences of lack of implementation and reneging on the peace accords have reverberated throughout the country in waves of ethnic and political violence, as well as the rearmament of a small but significant portion of demobilized FARC. Shamelessly, the Colombian government has hollowly portrayed a commitment to peace implementation while ignoring the harsh realities caused by its lack of political action and will. In response, the Defend the Peace Movement (Defendamos la Paz, DLP) wrote a letter denouncing the ‘Colombian government’s position, which is pro-peace externally, to obtain resources, and anti-peace internally, to dismantle the bulk of the peace accord.’”

Homicidios de ex-Farc de este año podrían superar los del 2018: ONU
El Tiempo, 14 de octubre de 2019 
“Una de las principales preocupaciones de la Misión de Verificación de Naciones Unidas en Colombia son los asesinatos de los desmovilizados de las Farc. Así quedó en evidencia en el informe trimestral presentado la semana pasada ante el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Para Carlos Ruiz Massieu, jefe de la Misión, si continúan los homicidios al mismo ritmo que se vienen presentando, la cifra de este año puede superar la del anterior. Sin embargo, reconoce los esfuerzos del Gobierno para evitar que esto suceda.”

Colombia has ‘no information’ of FARC dissidents’ involvement in Ecuador crisis
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 13, 2019 
“Colombia’s foreign minister said Friday that he had no information that would confirm claims by Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno that FARC dissidents have been involved in violent anti-government protests. In an interview with Colombian television network NTN24, Moreno accused his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Rafael Correa of having ‘sponsored’ and ‘ordered’ a violent uprising against his government. According to the Ecuadorean president, Maduro sent ‘FARC people’ and ‘Venezuelan envoys’ after his decision to abolish fuel subsidies sparked protests that have been growing more violent since.”

Colombia’s ruling party clashes with Duque over law to compensate conflict victims
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 13, 2019 
“Colombia’s president Ivan Duque announced on Friday he would propose a 10-year extension of the law that seeks to return stolen land and help victims of the armed conflict, putting him at loggerheads with his own party. Duque announced on Friday that he would extend the validity of the 2011 Victims and Land Restitution Law by another 10 years. This law grants the country’s almost 8.9 million victims of the armed conflict the right to compensation and created mechanisms that would allow displaced farmers to return home, but was going to expire in 2021. Duque said that he would not just propose an extension of the law, but also include articles that would provide special attention to ethnic minorities, who have been disproportionally  left behind in the implementation of the Victims Law, according to Congress.”

Víctimas y ex Farc hablan en Tierra Grata sobre paz y posconflicto
El Tiempo, 13 de octubre de 2019
“Tierra Grata, el espacio territorial de capacitación y reincorporación (ETCR), en el corregimiento de San José de Oriente, en el departamento del Cesar, es escenario a partir el próximo martes 15 de octubre de un encuentro entre desmovilizados de las Farc y víctimas del conflicto…El tema central del encuentro es la paz y la reconciliación, cómo van los compromisos de la sociedad, fortalecimiento, futuro y retos que nos esperan.”

ELN GOVERNMENT PEACE PROCESS

Duque’s path to victory: soldier joins ELN, presidential guard arrested for massacre
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 17, 2019 
“While Colombia’s defense minister is facing a no confidence vote, a soldier announced he had joined the ELN and a presidential guard was arrested for a massacre attributed to the EPL. The two incidents that hit the headlines on Wednesday were the latest in a series of embarrassments for President Ivan Duque and his Defense Minister Guillermo Botero. On Tuesday, senators filed a second motion of no confidence against Botero after a series of blunders and corruption scandals that have dragged the military’s reputation through the mud. The ELN propaganda stunt and the arrest of one of Duque’s bodyguards over his alleged involvement in the killing of 10 people in July last year further weakened the minister’s position.”

Cancillería solicita a Cuba extradición de jefes del Eln
El Heraldo, 12 de octubre de 2019
“La Cancillería, a través de la embajada de Colombia en La Habana, solicitó formalmente a Cuba la extradición de Víctor Orlando Cubides, alias Pablo Tejada o Aureliano Carbonell, e Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias Pablo Beltrán, miembros del Eln. Esto, según explicó el canciller Carlos Holmes Trujillo, tras la solicitud del juzgado IV de ejecución de penas y medidas de seguridad de Antioquia.”

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Violence sows fear among women ahead of Colombia local elections
Megan Janetsky, Al Jazeera, October 17, 2019 
“Seven candidates have been murdered and dozens more have been attacked or threatened in the lead up to the October 27 local and regional elections, making it the most violent electoral year since the country signed the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Observers say across Colombia female candidates like Polo face even greater challenges than their male counterparts, and are systematically threatened with physical and sexual violence in an effort to deter them from running.”

Mothers of Colombia’s disappeared seek justice at war tribunal
Anastatia Moloney, Reuters, October 17, 2019 
“Mothers of young men and teenagers who say their sons were murdered by government soldiers during Colombia’s conflict begged a tribunal for answers on Thursday as the country investigates human rights atrocities committed during its war. Colombia’s five-decade war pitted leftist rebels against government forces and right-wing paramilitary groups. Some 200,000 people were killed, 7.7 million displaced and 60,000 listed as missing, according to government figures. A 2016 peace accord between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels established a Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal which is investigating war crimes.”

Crisis in southwest Colombia: 6 indigenous leaders killed in 2 weeks
Stephen Gill, Colombia Reports, October 15, 2019 
“The United Nations on Monday condemned the assassination of the sixth indigenous guard in just weeks in the troubled southwest of Colombia. Toribio Canas, 53, was gunned down at his home in the Toribio municipality of the Cauca province on Sunday. The indigenous guard became the latest victim of devastating violence aimed at indigenous leaders and human rights defenders in the province. Regional indigenous organization CRIC warned that people claiming to represent the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel are threatening locals as they attempt to expand their operations with the illicit coca crop, the base ingredient for cocaine.”

Women defenders of land, environment, at risk in Colombia
Oxfam, October 15, 2019 
“Women defenders of land rights and the environment in Colombia are being attacked at an alarming rate, according to Oxfam’s partners in the country.The expansion of large scale mining activities and agribusiness in Colombia has greatly increased territorial disputes and violence suffered by individuals who defend water, land, forests and the rights of women, afro-descendants, indigenous and farming communities. Threats, bullying, judicial harassment, illegal surveillance, forced disappearances, blackmail, sexual assault, and murder are common practice. A statement from Oxfam’s office in Colombia says that women leaders have been specifically targeted due to their engagement in Colombia’s peace agreement, which proposed alternative and more sustainable models for economic development. Since the signing of the peace agreement in 2016, the presence of legal and illegal enterprises that are exploiting non-renewable natural resources are the subject of criticism from indigenous, small farmers and afro-descendent rural communities, and the source of conflicts in environmentally sensitive areas.”

Death threats: Colombia’s human rights defenders’ daily bread
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, October 14, 2019 
“Assassinations of human rights defenders and community leaders dropped 23% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, but death threats went up 75%, according to a think tank.In its latest report, think tank Somos Defensores, compared the six months leading up to the election of President Ivan Duque to the first six months of this year. In the first six months of the year, Somos Defensores registered a drop in homicides from 77 to 59 and a rise in death threats from 272 to 477. The NGO said it feared that the drop in assassinations could be reversed in the second half of the year due to the local elections and armed conflict.”

DRUG POLICY

Orión, Regional Maritime Campaign to Counter Narcotrafficking
Geraldine Cook, Dialogo, October 15, 2019
“Orión is an initiative that arose from the efforts of the United States through Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the Mexican Navy, and the Colombian Navy in 2017. This initiative combines the efforts of regional navies to work in a coordinated, simultaneous way to counter maritime narcotrafficking, using their own capabilities. The objective of the campaign is to disrupt and interdict illicit activities related to narcotrafficking at sea and to attack its structures. Likewise, the campaign creates cooperation networks among countries’ national authorities and participating agencies.”

Women Taking On More Roles Within Colombia’s Drug Trade
Maria Alejandra Navarrete, Insight Crime, October 13, 2019
“A new investigation has revealed the range of roles women play in drug trafficking organizations in Colombia and the vulnerable situations that they face within these jobs. The report, written by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with Colombia’s Ministry of Justice and published on October 3, analyzes 2,500 cases of women charged with crimes related to drug trafficking in Colombia.”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

Duque at UN: Venezuelan Dictatorship ‘One More Link in the Transnational Terrorism Chain’
Diálogo, October 16 2019
“On September 25, Colombian President Iván Duque accused Nicolás Maduro of being ‘one more link in the transnational terrorism chain’ and announced before world leaders at the United Nations (U.N.) that he would submit evidence proving the disputed Venezuelan government’s connections to narcotrafficking and terrorism. Duque made his statements during his speech at the 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York. ‘Its corrupt structures are servants of the drug cartels; its pawns are henchmen of the mafia and fuel violence in Colombia; they shelter murderers and child rapists, and whoever ignores these shameful acts are accomplices of the dictatorship,’ he said during his address.”

As Latin America shuts out Venezuelans, Colombia remains open 
Cyril Bennouna, Reaction, October 14, 2019  
“Colombia – which hosts 1.4 million migrants, 40% of the region’s displaced Venezuelans – has emerged as a leader in welcoming Venezuelans. The Colombian government has issued special permits allowing some 676,093 Venezuelans to work and benefit from government social services for up to two years. The capital is working with local governments to improve Venezuelans’ access to healthcare, education and jobs. And the administration recently granted citizenship to children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents. Thanks in part to Colombia’s welcoming response, the country has avoided the kind of xenophobic backlash seen elsewhere in the region.”

El calvario de los niños apátridas en Colombia
El Heraldo, 13 de octubre de 2019
“Migrantes de todas las edades huyen a diario de una Venezuela en crisis, asfixiada por la hiperinflación y el desabastecimiento. A Colombia han llegado oficialmente 197.428 menores de edad, pero la cifra es mayor porque muchos arriban de forma irregular, según la autoridad migratoria. En otras circunstancias vivir en el extranjero hubiera sido una ilusión, pero esta generación llega “con un duelo muy grande”, asegura Sandra Perdomo, directora de la Fundación Zión, que atiende a migrantes. Muchos no entienden ‘lo que están viviendo’, señala, y peor aún, ‘han perdido la esperanza (…) no están pudiendo ser niños’.”

* 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.