Colombia's ELN guerillas carried out a string of attacks in a new offensive aimed at shutting down the South American country, mostly targeting transportation infrastructure. The four-day "armed strike" was called weeks after a ceasefire broke down and days after the government suspended peace talks with the ELN. Bogotá has responded to the campaign by issuing arrest warants for ELN leaders, including two top negotiators at the suspended Quito talks. The new violence has also occasioned the latest inflammation of Colombia's ongoing tensions with Venezuela, as Bogotá's defense minister Luis Carlos Villegas charged migrants from the neighboring country with involvement in the ELN attacks. Caracas, in turn, accused Colombia of preparing a "military invasion." (Photo: Colombia Reports)
Despite the peace process with the FARC rebels, rural unrest persists across Colombia. Recent weeks have seen a wave of peasant strikes across several regions of the country to demand a voice in the peace process for campesino and indigenous communities, and attention to their demands on land restitution and rural development. The National Minga for Life, Territory and Peace was repeatedly attacked by the security forces. (Photo: El Orejiverde)
Colombia's government—under Washington pressure—is pushing ahead with plans to forcibly eradicate 50,000 hectares of coca leaf this year, despite mounting resistance from peasant growers. Violent confrontations between cocaleros and eradication forces are reported across the country. Even "voluntary eradication" is meeting protest, as campesino communities are flooded with National Police troops, in violation of their pacts with the government.
The wave of deadly attacks on social leaders across Colombia persists in spite of the peace process. Human rights group Global Witness, which annually releases a report on the world's most dangerous countries for environmental defenders, this year names Colombia as second only to Brazil. The group counts 37 environmental activists slain in Colombia in 2016, compared to 26 in 2015. In the first six months of 2017, the figure was already up to 22.
In unsettling news for the country's peace process with the FARC guerillas, Colombia registered a record-shattering 50% increase in coca-leaf cultivation last year, according to the latest report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The figures, released by UNODC's Integrated Illicit Crops Monitoring System, show 146.000 hectares under coca cultivation in 2016, compared to 96.000 in 2015—actually a 52% jump.
Colombia's Supreme Court nullified a prison term imposed on an indigenous leader for the detention and flogging of an army soldier who had entered his people's territory in 2008.
Campesinos and environmentalists held a national mobilization demanding that Colombia establish a Truth Commission for environmental crimes as part of the peace process.
Hundreds of peasant coca-growers shut down a main highway through southern Colombia to oppose the government's renewed "forced eradication" campaign in the region.
Even as the FARC guerillas begin the disarmament process under Colombia's peace plan, the ongoing wave of deadly violence against social leaders remains unrelenting.
Colombia's Constitutional Court upheld the power of municipalities to block mining operations on their lands, clearing the way for local referenda throughout the country.
The FARC completed its "demobilization" to transition camps under protest, charging that the Colombian government is failing to restrain right-wing paramilitary groups.
Amid concern that Colombia's peace process could be jeopardized by ongoing assassinations of social leaders, the Defense Ministry said the slayings are "not systematic."