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Colombia News Brief for January 14 – February 3, 2021

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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.

SPOTLIGHT

Carta de Defendamos la Paz a gobierno de Estados Unidos
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, 20 de enero de 2021
“Lamentablemente, el proceso de paz y la ejecución del Acuerdo han encontrado numerosos obstáculos en los tiempos de las administraciones del presidente Iván Duque en Colombia, y del expresidente Donald Trump en Estados Unidos. Gran parte de lo pactado no se ha implementado, mientras que la puesta en obra de otros aspectos se está llevando a cabo con lentitud, pocos recursos, o incluso en medio de objeciones presidenciales, como es el caso del sistema para garantizar los derechos de las víctimas y la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP”.

GOVERNMENT-FARC PEACE PROCESS

Duque isolated as US vows ‘strong support for peace in Colombia’
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 30, 2021
“US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his ‘strong support for peace in Colombia’ in his first phone call to his Colombian counterpart Claudia Blum on Thursday. A press release by Blinken’s spokesperson Ned Price made it clear that US President Joe Biden’s priorities would require major policy changes from his far-right Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque. The secretary of state said the US government will help Bogota ‘as it extends the benefits of peace throughout the country’ and ensures ‘the protection of human rights.’”

Colombia peace update: January 30, 2021
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), January 30, 2021
“Colombia’s post-conflict transitional justice tribunal, the Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP), issued its first indictment this week, charging eight members of the former FARC guerrillas’ uppermost leadership, or ‘Secretariat,’ of overseeing at least 21,396 kidnappings during the armed conflict. Two of the accused now sit in Colombia’s Congress.”

Peace with Legality – Management Report August 2018 – November 2020 (27 months)
Presidential Council for Stabilization and Consolidation, Government of Colombia, January 29, 2021
“The Single Registry of Victims knows of 9,057,952 people who have been individually affected by a victimizing event. Approximately 2,428,990 of them are in the 170 municipalities of the Development Plans with Territorial Approach (DPTA) that are considered priority for intervention. This means that nearly a third of all victims registered in Colombia live in those focalized municipalities.”

Informe de Gestión – Paz con Legalidad Agosto 2018 – Noviembre 2020 (27 meses)
Consejería Presidencial para la Estabilización y la Consolidación, Gobierno de Colombia, 29 de enero de 2021
“El Registro Único de Víctimas tiene reconocidas 9.057.952 personas que individualmente han sido afectadas por algún hecho victimizante. De este número de víctimas, aproximadamente 2.428.990 de ellas están ubicadas en los 170 municipios PDET priorizados para la intervención, esto significa que casi la tercera parte de todas las víctimas registradas en Colombia reside en estos municipios focalizados”.

Security Council Press Statement on Colombia
United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, 28 de enero de 2021
“The Members of the Security Council reaffirmed their full support for the three components of the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition, welcomed the continued progress in fulfilment of their mandates which are integral to the peace process, and stressed the need to fully respect their independence and autonomy. They encouraged all parties to fulfil their responsibilities to the victims of the conflict by contributing fully to the truth and supporting the critical work of the three components. They welcomed the recent request by the Government of Colombia for the Verification Mission to support the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in verifying implementation of its sentences, and undertook to give this prompt consideration.”

Comunicado de Prensa del Consejo de Seguridad sobre Colombia
United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, 28 de enero de 2021
“Los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad reafirmaron su pleno apoyo a los tres componentes del Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y No Repetición, acogieron con agrado los avances continuos en el cumplimiento de sus mandatos, que son parte integral del proceso de paz, y destacaron la necesidad de respetar plenamente su independencia y autonomía. Alentaron a todas las partes a cumplir con sus responsabilidades con relación a las víctimas del conflicto contribuyendo plenamente a la verdad y apoyando la labor fundamental de los tres componentes. Acogieron con beneplácito la reciente solicitud del Gobierno de Colombia de que la Misión de Verificación apoye a la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz en la verificación de la implementación de sus sanciones y se comprometieron a dar a esta pronta consideración”.

Former Colombian Pres.: Biden can unite nations
York News Times, January 19, 2021
“Former Colombian President feels that President-elect Joe Biden understands the importance of cooperation between nations. Speaking to the Associated Press from Bogota on Tuesday, Juan Manuel Santos said Biden understands ‘value and the importance of multilateralism.’ He also emphasized that with Biden, as president of the U.S. there is hope that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic can be dealt in a better way.”

COVID-19

Pacífico Sur: Las Pandemias en el Sur del Pacífico Colombiano
Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos, 31 de enero de 2021

“Este documento recoge las reflexiones y los análisis del conversatorio Las pandemias en el sur del Pacífico colombiano, y cuenta con cuatro apartados. En el primero se presenta el panorama del estado de implementación del Acuerdo de paz en el sur del Pacífico; el segundo expone la situación de derechos humanos en la región; el tercero resume su situación actual en relación con la emergencia sanitaria por la covid-19 y cómo ha afectado la implementación del Acuerdo y la garantía de los derechos humanos; por último, se resumen las acciones urgentes en el territorio”.

Colombia reaches COVID-19 vaccine agreements with Moderna, Sinovac
Oliver Griffin, Reuters, January 29, 2021
“The Andean country’s government aims have at least 1 million people vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by the end of March, Duque added. Colombia, a country of about 50 million people, hopes to vaccinate some 34 million people in a bid to achieve what is known as herd immunity, when a large part of a given population becomes immune to an infectious disease like COVID-19.”

Según la encuesta Invamer, 39% de los colombianos no se vacunaría contra el covid-19
La República, 27 de enero de 2021
“Según datos de la última encuesta Invamer de enero, la percepción de 55% de los encuestados en cuanto al covid-19 en Colombia es que ‘lo peor está por venir’, un 7% más de lo que se registró en octubre de 2020. Después de abril (56%) y junio (64%) del año pasado, este es el panorama menos optimista que han vislumbrado quienes participaron en el cuestionario”.

Carlos Holmes Trujillo: Colombian defence minister dies with Covid-19
BBC, January 26, 2021
“Carlos Holmes Trujillo, 69, was a career politician who served through some of Colombia’s most difficult times. A former mayor of the city of Cali, he held a range of government positions including interior minister, foreign minister and education minister. As defence minister, he coordinated military and police operations against drug trafficking, illegal armed groups and illicit mining. Several senior Colombian politicians have been infected with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, including indigenous leader Luis Fernando Arias who is currently gravely ill after contracting the disease.”

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Colombia launches plan to stem killings of activists
Reuters, February 3, 2021
“Violence against human rights and environmental defenders, as well as community activists – known collectively in Colombia as social leaders – has become a major challenge for Duque’s government, amid international criticism and demands more be done to stop the killings. ‘We want to keep strengthening our fight against the criminals that have been linked to these heinous crimes,’ Duque said following a meeting with Colombia’s attorney general and other officials, including the prosecutor general and human rights ombudsman.”

Colombia’s ex-guerrillas: isolated, abandoned and living in fear
Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian, February 3, 2021
“Daniela Márquez, 30, bears the scars of Colombia’s long civil war on her body. Until three years ago, she was a medic with what was then South America’s most powerful guerrilla army: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). Five years ago, while her commanders were suing for peace, an airstrike killed seven of her comrades and hurled pieces of shrapnel into her arms, legs and back. Despite the hatred she felt for the government, she supported a peace deal signed in 2016 that formally ended five decades of war that killed more than 260,000 and forced 7 million from their homes. Since the peace deal was signed, 254 ex-Farc members have been murdered across the country, and while the apparent motives for their killings vary, those responsible – either the gunmen or those who order the deaths – rarely face justice.”

Colombia Farc: Former rebels charged with war crimes
BBC, January 29, 2021
“A special court in Colombia has charged eight commanders of the former Farc rebel group with war crimes during the country’s decades-long armed conflict. They are accused of kidnapping thousands of people, and torturing and killing some of them. It is the first major result for the court set up after the 2016 peace deal between the government and the Farc. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) demobilised to reintegrate with society after the peace accord. The conflict, which lasted more than 50 years, left more than 260,000 dead and millions displaced.”

¿En qué va la Reforma Rural Integral?
Colombia 2020, 27 de enero de 2021
“Siga este encuentro de Colombia2020 para evaluar, cuatro años después de la firma del Acuerdo de Paz, cómo ha avanzado el acceso a tierras para los campesinos, una de las principales promesas del primer punto de ese pacto”.

The child environmentalist receiving death threats in Colombia
Manuel Rueda, BBC, January 27, 2021
“An 11-year-old boy who received death threats after calling for better access to education during the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised by the UN for his activism. Francisco Vera is well-known in his native Colombia for his environmental campaigns and defence of children’s rights. On 15 January he received a death threat from an anonymous Twitter account after posting a video urging the government to improve internet connectivity for children studying online.”

“Te vamos a matar”: Un caso de poder empresarial descontrolado
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, 27 de enero de 2020
“La mina Cerrejón en Colombia no es ajena al escándalo. Uno de los proyectos de carbón a cielo abierto más grandes del mundo, es objeto de nuevas denuncias que piden su cierre. Después de varios intentos de buscar justicia, las acciones presentadas por la Red de Acción Legal Global (GLAN por sus siglas en inglés) son las más recientes para revertir una letanía de abusos durante décadas”.

Goldman Prize Recipient and Renowned Afro-Colombian Activist Francia Márquez to Vice President Kamala Harris: “Afro-Colombian and Indigenous people are tired of being in the midst of violent confrontations”
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), January 25, 2021
“On January 22, Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient and renowned Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez published a statement to the newly sworn-in Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris. In powerful words echoing Afro-Colombian and Indigenous commitment to an inclusive peace in Colombia, the letter underscored how peace has yet to reach ethnic territories and ‘Afro-Colombian and Indigenous people are tired of being in the midst of violent confrontations’. Márquez expressed profound concerns about structural racism, the ongoing assassinations of community social leaders and former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the operations of illegal armed groups, environmental exploitation, militarized counternarcotic policies, police brutality, and an ‘indolent government’ that has failed to respond to the countless recommendations it has received from ethnic communities.”

DRUG POLICY

3 Unexplored Criminal Challenges Awaiting President Joe Biden
Chris Dalby, InSight Crime, January 21, 2021
“While President Donald Trump’s administration repeatedly went after Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG), El Salvador’s MS13 and Colombia’s National Liberation Army (Ejército Nacional de Liberación – ELN), the PCC did not seem to be a target. This was likely because much of the PCC’s cocaine goes to the lucrative European markets instead of going north to the United States. However, if the Brazil-US alliance is to be restored, one of the region’s prime security threats may rise up the White House’s list of priorities.”

Joe Biden and Colombia | Part 2: ending the ‘War on Drugs’
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports, January 15, 2021
“President-elect Joe Biden wants to end the United States’ so-called ‘War on Drugs,’ which may force Colombia’s President Ivan Duque to drastically revise domestic drug policies. Duque gladly returned to the hardline stance on drug use and drug trafficking promoted by his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, after taking office in 2018. Despite the counterproductive results, Colombia’s president could count on the support of his outgoing American counterpart Donald Trump.”

VENEZUELAN CRISIS

GIFMM Colombia: Situational Report – November 2020 (EN)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, January 29, 2021
According to the latest situation update from UNHCR, ‘As of November, there were 1.71 million Venezuelans in Colombia (over 3% of Colombia’s population), of whom 770,246 had ‘regular migration status.’”

Attacks and Insults Greet Venezuelans Fleeing a Ruined Homeland
Bloomberg, January 25, 2021
“Colombia’s initial ‘generous and humane’ attitude toward the exodus is increasingly giving way to xenophobia as social services come under strain, said Gabriel Silva, former ambassador to Washington. That describes the experience of Ubaldina Camacho, a cleaning lady who arrived in Bogota in 2017 from Venezuela (where she grew up, although she was born in Colombia). Last month, she was on a bus going home from work when two men, one with a knife, demanded to know who was Venezuelan. They shouted that Venezuelans were taking over their country.”

GENERAL

Medición #140
Invamer, enero de 2021
Informe gráfico sobre:

  • Estado de ánimo
  • Aprobación gestión del Presidente
  • Aprobación gestión de Alcaldes y Gobernadores
  • Favorabilidad de personajes
  • Favorabilidad de algunas instituciones
  • Nivel de aprobación a algunas propuestas, leyes o afirmaciones
  • Coronavirus
  • Proceso de paz

* 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.