In November 2016, the government and FARC rebels signed an agreement ending five decades of guerrilla war, yet peace remains elusive as new armed groups have stepped in to compete for territory and illicit businesses. To defend the gains of the peace process and stop a new cycle of conflict from taking hold, the state must redress the inequality underlying social discontent, make peace with Colombia’s last major insurgency, the ELN, and design security strategies that put protecting people first. Crisis Group has worked on Colombia’s conflicts since 2002, publishing over 40 reports and briefings and meeting hundreds of times with all parties in support of inclusive peace efforts. We monitor the FARC deal’s progress and carry out field research on issues ranging from new patterns of armed conflict to Colombia’s relations with its troubled neighbour, Venezuela. 

CrisisWatch Colombia

Unchanged Situation

Govt and National Liberation Army (ELN) signed ceasefire agreement, FARC dissident violence persisted, and political scandal rocked Petro’s administration.

Govt and ELN struck ceasefire agreement. Govt and ELN negotiators 9 June announced ceasefire agreement, which will take hold gradually over two-month period and then last for 180 days, with 3 Aug intended start date. Sides will discuss accord with respective forces until 6 July, and then conduct further bilateral talks to clarify ceasefire conditions until Aug implementation. Protocols announced so far include commitments to uphold humanitarian law, end offensive and intelligence operations on both sides, and ban attempts to demobilise ELN. Agreement marked important advance in President Petro’s “total peace” efforts and, if successful, will be longest bilateral ceasefire ever concluded with guerrilla group. Deal remains fragile, however, with disputes emerging around prohibitions on kidnapping and extortion.

Armed group violence continued to plague communities. Joint military and indigenous guard team 9 June found four children lost for 40 days in jungle following plane crash; reports suggested children were fleeing forced recruitment by dissident faction of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor, though group 14 June denied allegation. Estado Mayor stepped up intimidation of political leaders ahead of Oct local elections, 18 June releasing pamphlet threatening mayor of Tulúa, Valle de Cauca department (west); issue raised concern about freedom of campaign for local election, which formally began 29 June. Meanwhile, clashes between ELN and Gulf Clan starting early June displaced well over 100 families and confined 800 more in Chocó department (north west).

Petro removed two key allies embroiled in political scandal. President Petro 2 June removed two of his closest allies, Ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti and Chief of Staff Laura Sarabia, from govt after right-wing magazine Semana published reports accusing both of ordering illegal polygraph of domestic worker and wiretapping; in days following, leaked audio messages appeared to show Benedetti discussing irregular financing during presidential campaign. Crisis galvanised opposition to govt and will likely weaken its support in congress, which 5 June halted debates of proposed social reforms to allow investigation into allegations. Benedetti was reinstated as ambassador 23 June until 19 July.

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In The News

8 Feb 2023
None of the armed groups [in Colombia] will give up anything significant unless they are under military pressure. The Economist

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
1 Nov 2022
Indigenous communities have suffered disproportionately from targeted violence, displacement and massacres throughout Colombia’s conflict. Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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