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Colombia News Brief, July 9 – 15, 2020

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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: Cancillería Venezuela/Flickr

SPOTLIGHT

United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia
United Nations Security Council, July 2020
“As much of the rest of the world, Colombia has been affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and its effects on the implementation of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace have been increasingly evident. The President, Iván Duque, and the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilization and Consolidation have reiterated their assurances that progress on the implementation of the Final Agreement has continued despite this situation. However, the pandemic and social distancing and isolation measures have affected peace-related programmes and have had a considerable negative impact on vulnerable conflict-affected communities.”

COVID-19

Bogota’s second lockdown: normality for some; hunger for the rest
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, July 14, 2020
“Attempts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in Latin American cities from Bogota to Panama have exposed disparities between men and womenand the gradual re-shutting down of certain city districts is showing the profound ways in which different neighbourhoods delineate wealth and opportunity. With Bogota’s hospitals overwhelmed and a predicted coronavirus peak in mid-August, the city’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, has imposed a renewed lockdown in parts of the capital with the highest infection rates that are mostly home to the city’s poor.

Piden a Supersalud garantizar servicios de salud a pacientes no-COVID
Tomás Betín, El Heraldo, 14 de julio de 2020
“El Ministerio Público le advierte de esta manera a la Supersalud que la atención en salud en el marco de la pandemia generada por el virus del SARS-CoV-2, no debe ser excusa para la desatención de pacientes con otras patologías a causa de decisiones y malas prácticas de algunos administradores de salud, toda vez que se está vulnerando el derecho fundamental a la salud de la población con enfermedades crónicas”.

Largest cities in Colombia reverse reopening as coronavirus threatens to collapse healthcare
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, July 12, 2020
“Colombia’s capital Bogota and the country’s second largest city, Medellin, will reinstate partial lockdowns as COVID-19 is threatening to collapse healthcare. In Bogota, Mayor Claudia Lopez said Saturday that she will reinstate a rotating lockdown starting Monday in the hope that a reduction of people in the street will prevent a collapse of the capital’s healthcare system.”

In Latin America, the Pandemic Threatens Inequality Like Never Before
Julie Terkewitz, Sofía Villamil, The New York Times, July 11, 2020
“Over the past 20 years, millions of families had marched out of poverty in one of the most unequal regions on earth. The gap between rich and poor in Latin America fell to its lowest point on record. Now, the pandemic is threatening to reverse those gains like nothing else in recent history, economists say, potentially upending politics and entire societies for years to come.”

Colombian capital to renew lockdowns by neighborhood as cases rise
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, July 10, 2020
“Colombian capital Bogota will initiate strict, rolling two-week quarantines in certain neighborhoods starting Monday to curb the spread of coronavirus as cases rise and intensive care units fill, the mayor said on Friday. The Andean country has reported just under 134,000 cases of COVID-19 and 4,714 deaths. More than 32% of cases have occurred in the capital, along with a fifth of deaths.”

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

“Los asesinatos son la amenaza más grave para el Proceso de paz”: ONU
El Tiempo, 14 de julio de 2020
“Este martes, Carlos Ruiz, el jefe de la Misión de Verificación de la ONUen Colombia y representante especial del secretario general en Colombia presentó al Consejo de Seguridad el informe trimestral del secretario general Antonio Guterres. El informe, con corte al 26 de junio de este año, se presentó el pasado 3 de julio y da cuenta del avance del Proceso de paz. Ruiz reconoció los esfuerzos del Gobierno y de Farc para continuar en la consolidación de la paz y resaltó que el proceso haya continuado incluso durante las dificultades que ha generado la pandemia”.

Colombia Briefing
What’s In Blue, July 13, 2020
“Tomorrow morning (14 July), the Security Council will hold its quarterly meeting on Colombia. Special Representative and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Carlos Ruiz Massieu is expected to brief on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on the mission. The Council will also be briefed by Clemencia Carabalí Rodallega, a representative of the Municipal Association of Women (ASOM) in the north of the Cauca department.”

Partido Farc denuncia asesinato de desmovilizado en Pitalito, Huila
Semana, 13 de julio de 2020
“En la mañana de este lunes fue asesinado José Antonio Rivera, un desmovilizado de la extinta guerrilla de las Farc que vivía en el municipio de Pitalito, Huila. Así lo denunció el partido Farc en sus redes sociales, que sin dar más detalles del móvil revelaron que el hombre, de 53 años, fue ultimado a disparos dentro de un taller de mecánica en el barrio Los Lagos”.

Colombia’s guerrilla leader swaps battle fatigues for bedtime stories
Michael Stott, Gideon Long, The Financial Times, July 10, 2020
“He has enough enemies to fill a telephone directory and the US once put a $5m bounty on his head. But Rodrigo Londoño, leader of what was Latin America’s biggest guerrilla army, claims to enjoy his new life as a father and politician. ‘Only the other day I went for lunch in a restaurant near here and a man who was eating got up, asked for a photo and thanked me for what we’re doing,’ a smiling Mr Londoño told the Financial Times during an interview at his Bogotá office this year.”

Colombian Peace Efforts on Life Support Amid the COVID-19 Response
Nelson Camilo Sánchez, Just Security, July 9, 2020
“In the case of Colombia, this context overlaps with the critical initial phase of implementation of the historic peace agreement with one of the last surviving guerrilla organizations in the hemisphere. Comparative studies have shown that the first years of these agreements are pivotal for the consolidation of peace. Prior to the novel coronavirus, the unwillingness of the government to implement its commitments enshrined in the peace agreement had put the agenda for peace in a state of convalescence.”

GOVERNMENT-ELN PEACE PROCESS

Mecánicos y cantantes: con estos disfraces y trampas infiltraron a Eln
El Tiempo, 14 de julio de 2020
“Un juez de control de garantías envió ayer a la cárcel a seis de los ocho capturados por el atentado terrorista contra la Escuela de Policía General Santander, que el 17 de enero de 2019 se cobró la vida de 22 subtenientes. Estas capturas se registraron el 2 de julio, en diferentes zonas del país, por parte de la Policía y la Fiscalía en una segunda fase de la investigación. EL TIEMPO tuvo acceso al informe de inteligencia —sobre el trabajo de infiltración al Eln— y las labores técnicas que tras año y medio permitieron identificar y ubicar a los hoy capturados por este acto terrorista”.

Destruyen gigantesco laboratorio de cocaína del ELN en Nariño
Semana, 13 de julio de 2020
“El comandante del Ejército, general Eduardo Zapateiro, informó que las Fuerzas Militares destruyeron en Samaniego, Nariño, el más grande laboratorio para el procesamiento de clorhidrato de cocaína que la guerrilla del ELN tenía en ese departamento. ‘Ubicado en Nariño el más grande laboratorio para el procesamiento de sustancias ilícitas, en una operación entre la Tercera División del Ejército, la Fuerza Aérea, Policía y Fiscalía. Un contundente golpe contra el grupo armado organizado ELN’, publicó en redes sociales el alto oficial al compartir imágenes del operativo”.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

La pandemia evidenció las deudas del Estado con nuestros pueblos: Comisión de Territorios Indígenas
Diego Camilo Carranza Jimenez, El Espectador, 13 de julio de 2020
“Entre otras problemáticas abordadas que siguen afectando a estas comunidades y que se han agravado con la pandemia, está la participación, planes para la atención de derechos territoriales y la situación humanitaria y amenazas que han aumentado en este contexto. También, insistieron en rechazar la realización de consultas previas virtuales impulsadas por el Gobierno Nacional, argumentando que la mayoría de miembros de las comunidades no cuentan con acceso a Internet.”

Colombia: Gang rape of Indigenous girl sparks national outrage
Alessandro Rampietti, Al Jazeera, July 9, 2020
“It is a crime that is sparked outrage in Colombia, the gang rape of an Indigenous girl last month by a group of soldiers. It has turned the spotlight on the military’s record of sexual violence and human rights abuses, as the country struggles to overcome decades of conflict.”

A conservation scientist enlists Colombia’s ex-guerrillas in a new cause: preserving their country’s biodiversity
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science Magazine, July 8, 2020
“Colombia is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but its jungles and forests remain largely unexplored by scientists, thanks in part to FARC’s occupancy. Since the peace agreement, surveys in these regions have found close to 100 new species. Góngora now leads a group of researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, and 10 Colombian institutions who are working with ex‑combatants to study Colombia’s native plants and animals.”

El pueblo ancestral de Colombia que dejó siglos de aislamiento para luchar contra el cambio climático
Christopher Baker, BBC Mundo, 8 de julio de 2020
“Hace unos 30 años, los pueblos indígenas de la Sierra se dieron cuenta de que sus picos nevados se estaban derritiendo. Los páramos se estaban secando. Los anfibios y las mariposas estaban desapareciendo. En 1987, preocupados porque el cambio climático estaba afectando el cosmos, establecieron la Organización Indígena Gonawindúa Tayrona para representar a los mamos a nivel gubernamental”.

DRUG POLICY

Colombia vows to resume aerial fumigation of coca (for the 3rd time in a year)
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, July 14, 2020
“Colombia’s defense minister said Monday the government is ready to resume the aerial fumigation of coca after local media reported that forced eradication statistics were inflated. Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told press that ‘we have taken all the steps demanded by the Constitutional Court and are meeting the requirements of the authorities” to resume the controversial counternarcotics strategy that was banned in 2015.’”

Coca inflada: reportes de erradicación de la Fuerza Pública estarían alterados
Semana, 12 de julio de 2020
“SEMANA habló con ocho fuentes que conocen de cerca la erradicación, y que han participado en esta desde altos cargos en el Ministerio de Justicia, el Ejército y las Naciones Unidas. También, con erradicadores que han trabajado en los mayores enclaves cocaleros del país y con agentes de la Policía que han investigado el tema. Todos coincidieron en que la cifra de erradicación forzada es exagerada y que esas alteraciones en los reportes se vienen haciendo desde hace al menos diez años”.

Tribunal ratifica suspensión de actividades de militares de EE. UU. en Colombia
Javier Alexander Macías, El Colombiano, 14 de julio de 2020
“El Tribunal Administrativo de Cundinamarca dejó en firme su decisión emitida el pasado 2 de julio de que la brigada de EE. UU. que llegó a Colombia a finales de mayo y principios de junio, suspenda todas las actividades en el país. Esta es la respuesta a la solicitud de nulidad que los senadores Paloma Valencia, José Obdulio Gaviria y Carlos Felipe Mejía, del Centro Democrático, interpusieron ante el tribunal”.

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

Venezuela’s Gangs Push Deeper Into Colombia
InSight Crime, July 14, 2020
“Authorities in Colombia have captured a number of Venezuelan gang members, alarming officials who say that the groups are playing out rivalries from their home country while worming their way into local criminal rackets. Though members of Venezuelan gangs have been present in the countries’ porous border region for some time, cities in Colombia’s interior, including Bogotá, are now reporting more acts of violence connected to them.”

Covid-19 forced tens of thousands of Venezuelans to go home. But crossing the border is no easy task
Stefano Pozzebon, The Buffalo News, July 13, 2020
“Since at least 2016, nearly 5 million Venezuelans have left their country, according to the UN Refugee Agency, fleeing disastrous poverty and crumbling social and health services. But as the coronavirus pandemic shutters economies across Latin America, many Venezuelans are now being forced to return home — if their government will let them.”

Venezuela Migration Crisis in Colombia
Save The Children, July 9, 2020
“Economic collapse and internal conflict are driving millions of Venezuelans from their home. More than 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants have fled to Colombia and are in need of basic services like health, nutrition and WASH, protection, and education. During the COVID-19 crisis, Save the Children Colombia continues its operations in the departments of Arauca, La Guajira, Valle del Cauca, Santander, Norte de Santander, Nariño and Bogotá, the country’s capital.”

 

* 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.