Colombia. After several postponements, on October 24, peace talks finally began with the largest guerrilla group, FARC, on the basis of a twelve-point program. In addition to the vaguely worded agenda, unlike other Latin American peace processes, an agreed action must be implemented before negotiations on the next item can begin, which poses a risk of countless breakdowns. Most observers are already distrusting the FARC’s will to peace. In practice, the country is already divided, which was shown by the delay in peace negotiations, not only by the government’s demand for an international commission to monitor the 42,000 km 2 large demilitarized “relaxation zone” (zona de distensión), which the FARC has ruled since November 1998, but also the FARC’s refusal to announce a ceasefire during the negotiations as well as demands for major government action against the paramilitary groups. Militarily, the FARC has taken over and operates very close to the capital Bogotá (in July only 50 km away). Despite some successes for the army in the first half, the public has no confidence in its ability to fight guerrillas, which are estimated to dominate 40% of Colombia’s land area. More than half of the country’s population believes that foreign intervention is necessary, and rumors that the US and neighboring countries are planning for such have also circulated. But Venezuela and Cuba have warned that it would entail a “balkanization” of the conflict and that Colombia would become a “Mini-Kosovo” with greater regional uncertainty as a result.
Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Colombia. The social and human costs of the war are still enormous. During the first half of the year, 48,000 farmers were expelled from their homes – since 1989, 1.5 million, or 4% of the country’s population, have been displaced. 60% of the 500 people killed each month are peasants, and NGOs accuse paramilitary groups of half of the deaths. On average, five political murders are committed per day, and about 2,000 people are kidnapped each year, which has become a pressure method and source of income especially for the other major guerrilla group, ELN, which seeks to achieve the same status as the FARC, as well as get a free zone.
On April 12, ELN took the hostages from a hijacked domestic plane as hostage, and on May 30, 140 churchgoers in Cali were taken hostage, prompting President Pastrana to withdraw the political status he granted ELN. However, the outlook for resumed negotiations brightened again at the end of the year. At the same time, the paramilitary groups, mainly the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia), demand the same political status as the guerrillas. The large cocaine cartels of the 1980s have been replaced by smaller, more discreet organizations, but concerns have also increased that “drug terrorism” will resurface, mainly as a result of the so-called Operation Millennium, which was carried out in mid-October in collaboration with.a. FBI and CIA, when 30 drug kings were arrested. Cocoa cultivation increased by 28% in 1998.
On January 25, 1,000 people were killed in an earthquake in the Armenian region.
Russian diplomats expelled
The government says two Russian diplomats were deported earlier this month on suspicion of espionage. No further details are given. The next day, Russia expels two Colombian diplomats.
Two massacres in different parts of the country
At least 13 people are reported to have been killed in massacres in Antioquia in the northwest and in Cauca in the southwest, two ministries hard hit by a wave of violence. Several dozen massacres have occurred during the year, the level of violence in the country is the highest since the peace agreement with the FARC was signed in 2016. All attacks with three or more people killed are considered a massacre. In one of the current cases, five coffee growers and three others are killed in an attack on a farm, probably linked to the drug trade. In the second, at least five people are killed when a man opens fire in a bar, a billiard hall and a disco.
The president meets ex-guerrillas
President Iván Duqe receives leaders of the former left-wing guerrilla Farc for a meeting at the presidential palace, where Duge promises to speed up the integration process for former guerrilla members. The meeting attracts attention because Duque has been a sharp critic of large parts of the peace agreement with the FARC 2016. The meeting comes after the protest march to the capital that FARC members ended five days earlier and which was held in protest against so many of them being subjected to deadly violence.
Ex-rebels demonstrate against murder
Around 2,000 members of the former left-wing guerrilla Farc, now a political party, reach Caracas after a 200-mile march in protest of the murder of 236 of their comrades since the peace deal with the government was signed in 2016. The march began in the town of Mesetas in south on October 21, the day after the murder of two Farc members. Two more former guerrillas were killed three days later. The FARC accuses the government of not doing enough to protect former guerrillas, while the state says it is drug gangs that are behind most of the killings.