en English

Colombia News Brief for September 23-29, 2017

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.

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

President Santos in a meeting with Secretay Kerry and Ambassador Whitetaker. Source: Flickr

Peace Accord Implementation

Colombia’s Peace Process: Successful Disarmament, But Other Implementation Proceeds Slowly
Lisa Haugaard and Andrea Fernández Aponte, LAWG, September 28, 2017

“The peace accord agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC offers a historic opportunity to end the Western Hemisphere’s most long-lasting and brutal conflict, address the neglect of rural Colombia including Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and strengthen regional stability. The United States and the international community must support Colombia’s peace process while urging much greater progress in implementing the accords.”

Government not complying with Colombia peace deal: FARC
Agence France-Presse, September 26, 2017

“Londono said the government had yet to release all FARC prisoners accredited by a commission set up under the deal and had failed to suspend arrest warrants for FARC members. ‘There are thousands of ex-combatants…who do not receive the monthly payment of 90 percent of the minimum wage’ which had been agreed, and they still had no access to health care, he said. Londono called on international guarantors of the peace deal, including the UN and the Vatican, to ensure ‘the great work of peace stays afloat.’”

US Ambassador: FARC ‘Have Not Complied’ With Colombia Peace Deal
Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, September 27, 2017

“The ambassador said that ‘the FARC need to give information concerning drug trafficking for investigations to be opened,’ arguing that this process, stipulated in the peace accords, ‘has not occurred.’ Whitaker also tied the FARC’s willingness to provide information on drug trafficking to the group’s status as a US-designated terrorist organization. He said the US decision to take the FARC off the blacklist would be based only on concrete acts showing that the group complied with the peace agreement.”

With Glaring Omissions, a U.S. Ambassador Delivers a Dark View of Post-Conflict Colombia
Adam Isacson, WOLA, September 28, 2017

“In fact, Kevin Whitaker has headed the U.S. embassy in Bogota for almost three-and-a-half years. While Barack Obama was president, Ambassador Whitaker consistently gave vocal support to the FARC peace process, which culminated in a November 2016 accord ending a 52-year conflict. But now, he is following a different set of orders. His interview marks the sharpest reversal yet in U.S. support for the process.”

A path to peace through inclusion

The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist, May 9, 2017

“Based on evidence from similar peace deals elsewhere, the top priority for Colombia should be to make quick progress on implementing what has been agreed, with the greatest emphasis on showing progress on security: disarming the FARC and establishing the rule of law in formerly FARC-controlled areas. It would also be wise, given the political risk of the peace process being seen as too friendly to the FARC, to promptly launch the process of truth and reconciliation. After that, the next priority should be to stimulate economic development, especially in the areas most afflicted by FARC activities.”
(En Español)

FARC Says Negligence to Blame for Death of Former Member
TeleSUR, September 24, 2017

“Muñoz was set to be released under the Amnesty Law but died at a hospital after his health deteriorated. The former FARC member had been suffering from a terminal illness. The FARC argue Muñoz did not receive adequate medical attention. According to a statement, Muñoz’s disease was not treated efficiently and became chronic bronchopneumonia.”

El duro aterrizaje de las Farc a la realidad
Jineth Prieto, La Silla Vacía, 25 de septiembre de 2017

“La sensación de inseguridad de los excombatientes comprometidos con el proceso de paz es tal que hasta Tomás Ojeda, uno de sus excomandantes y quien culpa de la atomización a los incumplimientos del Gobierno, está considerando irse a vivir a Montería para poder atender sus tareas políticas con tranquilidad”.

Bacrim y compra de votos pueden enterrar las circunscripciones de paz
Santiago Valenzuela, ¡Pacifista!, 25 de septiembre de 2017

“El debate central, de acuerdo con Galán, radica en que ‘las víctimas sean bien representadas y tengan las garantías para participar en política. La idea es que esas curules no se queden en manos de las Farc ni en las maquinarias políticas de las regiones’. En un principio, las circunscripciones fueron criticadas por el partido Centro Democrático. Según ellos, con este proyecto se les estarían entregando ‘16 curules directas a las Farc’, con las que sumarían 26 escaños en el Congreso si se tienen en cuenta los 10 que les otorgó el acuerdo de paz. Desde otra orilla, la Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE) advirtió que las condiciones electorales no son las mejores en las 16 zonas”.

Colombia: Did Pope Francis Sway Opponents of Peace Accord?
Ana Isabel Rodríguez Iglesias, AULA blog, September 26, 2017

“Even though the Pope hasn’t helped the two presidents mend fences yet, his concept of peace has resonated with the country’s social and political movements, ethnic groups, victims, and intellectuals. A nascent coalition of left-leaning minority parties, called Ni-Ni’s, could give voice and organization to them and – perhaps in the future – bring some pressure to bear on opponents of the accords to come toward the middle.”

Everything you need to know about Colombia’s transitional justice system
Atticus Ballesteros, Colombia Reports, September 25, 2017

“According to the Final Peace Agreement between the two parties, the System ‘places special emphasis on restorative and reparative measures.’ In other words, it seeks to empower victims of the conflict by facilitating testimonies and reparations from perpetrators, rather than doling out traditional punishments such as jail time. The system is also supposed to give particular attention to women and ethnic minorities, ensuring that both groups are fully represented on transitional justice decision-making bodies as magistrates, commissioners, and victims.”

Los magistrados de la JEP
Laura Gil, El Tiempo, 27 de septiembre de 2017

“No obstante los méritos de los seleccionados, nada dejará satisfechos a los opositores al proceso de paz. Apenas anunciados los nombres, el uribismo se dio a la tarea de señalar la supuesta parcialidad de los futuros jueces. A la presidenta, una mujer conocida por su compromiso con los derechos humanos, le critican un contrato con el Centro de Memoria Histórica”.

Gender justice? Women judges to dominate Colombia war tribunals
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, September 28, 2017

“Women will account for 53 percent of those people selected to serve as court judges, promoting gender equality in the top echelons of justice. ‘The top courts have been a restricted space for women, especially for Afro-Colombian and indigenous women,’ said Xiomara Balanta, an Afro-Colombian woman, and one of 27 female judges out of 51 people appointed… Of the women judges appointed, more than 10 percent are Afro-Colombian and a further 10 percent come from indigenous groups.”

Colombian air force kills dissident Farc rebel leader
BBC, September 28, 2017

“The Farc announced in December that they had severed their ties with four of the renegade rebels, including Euclides Mora. The dissident rebel groups are active in the provinces of Guaviare, Guainía and Vichada as well as Nariño. It is not clear exactly how many dissident rebels there are but the military said Euclides Mora led a group of 25 fighters. They blame him and his renegades for much of the criminal activities in the area, including extortion, the recruitment of minors and cocaine production and smuggling.”

Human Rights and the Environment

Asesinatos a defensores agravan el índice de impunidad en Colombia
Unidad de datos, El Tiempo, 26 de septiembre de 2017

“Colombia resultó octava, con 66,57 puntos de 100, entrando así al vergonzoso ‘top’ 10 de países con mayor impunidad, una lista comandada por Filipinas, que obtuvo 75,60 puntos… El informe considera esta como la dimensión central del estudio y la mide ‘considerando los casos de tortura, asesinatos gubernamentales, encarcelamiento político, ejecuciones extrajudiciales, asesinatos masivos y desapariciones’, a través de las fuentes cuantitativas disponibles sobre las violaciones de los derechos humanos”.

Mass Displacements on the Rise as Colombia’s War Recedes
James Bargent, InSight Crime, September 27, 2017

“In 2017, there have been 61 mass displacements affecting 9,902 people in Colombia, according to figures cited in a new report by the Human Rights and Displacement Consultancy (Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento – CODHES), a Colombian displacement watchdog. The worst affected areas are all key drug trafficking territories and areas where the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) has created an underworld power vacuum.”

The displaced and ‘forgotten’ in Colombia’s Soacha slum
Dimitri O’Donnell, Al Jazeera, September 24, 2017

“The sprawling slum city is home to more than a million people and has one of the highest concentrations of displaced people in Colombia. More than 54,000 residents of Soacha are registered as IDPs – victims of Colombia’s long-running civil war that ended last November following a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The UN estimates that Colombia has nearly seven million IDPs – higher than in both Syria and Iraq. About half of those live in the urban centres of Bogota, Medellin and Cali. The remainder are scattered in remote regions along the Pacific coast.”

La territorialización de la paz para las mujeres en el Chocó
Paz con Mujeres, 26 de septiembre de 2017

“Las mujeres víctimas del Chocó siguen resistiendo con mucha fuerza y dignidad y exigiendo la intervención del Estado cuya responsabilidad es la de garantizar la no vulneración de sus derechos, en cualquier escenario y la superación de la conflictividad armada en la región. Recientemente organizaciones de mujeres chocoanas junto con otras organizaciones sociales han suscrito y entregado al Gobierno Colombiano y al ELN la propuesta de Acuerdo Humanitario ¡Ya! En el Chocó, con la que esperan que pare la violencia y la violación de los derechos que afecta de forma desproporcionada a las mujeres, la población infantil, adolescente y a la comunidad LGBTI del departamento”.

IV Informe alterno de la sociedad civil al comité del pacto internacional de derechos económicos, sociales y culturales
Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia, y Desarrollo, agosto de 2017

“Recomiende al Estado colombiano generar un clima seguro y propicio para la labor de promoción y protección de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales que realizan defensores/as y líderes/as sociales, que incluya un reconocimiento de la legitimidad e importancia de su labor”.

Ganadores 2017
Premio Defensores Colombia, 19 de septiembre de 2017

“El programa Diakonia Colombia y la iglesia sueca, unidos en un homenaje que reconoce y respalda la legitimidad social y política de los defensores (as) de derechos humanos y sus organizaciones en el país, entrega hoy a cuatro defensores y defensoras el Premio Nacional a la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos 2017”.

La ONU dice que detención prolongada del indio Pestana fue arbitraria
Semana, 27 de septiembre de 2017

“A través de la opinión número 19 fechada el 19 de abril del 2017, los expertos calificaron como ‘arbitraria’ la prolongada privación de la libertad a la que fue sometido Pedro Pestana Rojas, el fundador de la EPS Manexka condenado por haber colaborado con grupos paramilitares. Su caso en Colombia se convirtió en una odisea judicial por cuenta de su condición de indígena, sin embargo, parecía haber quedado sellado con un fuerte pronunciamiento emitido por la Corte Constitucional”.

¿Sirve la figura de sujeto de derechos para proteger el medioambiente?
Jorge Cote, Semana, 27 de septiembre de 2017

“Para Luisa Castañeda Quintana, abogada y asesora de los pueblos indígenas del Consejo Territorial, la Sierra tiene decenas de medidas y leyes que ordenan su preservación pero aun así en la actualidad hay 132 títulos vigentes dentro de la Línea Negra y 244 solicitudes más estructurales. Según ella, convertir a la Sierra sujeto de derechos sería un triunfo de los indígenas”.

Colombian Army and National Police Search for Illegal Refineries
Marian Romero, Diálogo, September 25, 2017

“From each 42-gallon barrel of crude that is illegally extracted, only 20 percent is used, since the refining process is rudimentary and inefficient. The rest is dumped directly into the aquifer and croplands. The result has a detrimental environmental impact in the region. The actions taken by ENC in 2017 have exceeded last year’s results, with 13 illegal valves found near dwellings in various municipalities and the destruction of 77 illegal refineries, 174 distillation towers, 84 pools for storing crude, and five explosive devices that had been installed to block ENC’s advance. Also seized were 114,000 gallons of distilled gasoline and 4,718 gallons of diesel fuel, and 127,000 gallons of crude were recovered.”

Drug Policy

What Trump’s ‘Warning’ to Colombia Really Means
Brian Saady, The American Conservative, September 25, 2017

“Plan Colombia is a U.S. counternarcotics program, primarily in the form of military aid. Your tax dollars have funded this program to the tune of $10 billion over the last 17 years, with a large portion of that budget benefiting private U.S. defense contractors. Basically U.S. military, DEA and private military forces have been operating in concert with local law enforcement and Colombian forces on the ground there since the Clinton administration as if there has been a real war, not just the Drug War. However, Colombia’s cocaine production levels have ebbed and flowed in the past without the level of political scrutiny it’s now receiving from the Trump Administration.”

Comments by Outgoing US Diplomat Highlight Discord on Anti-Drug Policy
Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, September 25, 2017

“Brownfield described Colombia’s current drug control policy as ‘an excellent strategy,’ and said US-Colombian anti-narcotic cooperation is a regional model that should be replicated. When asked if this view contradicted President Donald Trump’s recent threat to name Colombia a major drug producing and trafficking country, Brownfield answered that he believed Colombia’s eradication efforts to be efficient, but with room for improvement. The outgoing official said he believes that only a combination of traditional interdiction and eradication policies with more progressive, preventative measures would be successful in combatting drug-related security issues.”

Colombia Police Seize Seven Tons of Cocaine Hidden in Fruit
TeleSUR, September 23, 2017

“The shipment belonged to the Golfo Clan, also known the Usuga Clan, the largest drug trafficking gang in the country. It is accused of operating routes in partnership with Mexican cartels and taking part in illegal gold mining. ‘The cocaine was collected on a farm in the banana zone of Uraba, in bananas and other fruits, and was destined for Central America and the United States market,’ Villegas said… Colombian authorities are investigating who owns the property.”

Cocaine Consumption On the Rise? Think Again
Juan Carlos Garzón and José Luis Bernal, InSight Crime, September 22, 2017

“While there is no clear-cut evidence of increased consumption, countries should not let their guard down… countries would do well to focus their efforts and resources on addressing the public health issues that contribute to drug consumption, and the underlying socioeconomic development challenges in rural areas that are behind increased coca cultivation.”

*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.