The Andes

Colombia: rural violence persists despite ‘peace’

Colombia's peace process continues to advance, with institutional mechanisms for a post-war order falling into place. But violence in the countryside across Colombia remains at an alarming level, as social leaders are targeted for assassination by paramilitary factions. The ELN guerilla organization—which, unlike the FARC, remains in arms—released a statement noting that January had seen an assassination every day across the country, and charged that rightist paramilitary networks are carrying out a "systematic genocide."

The Andes

Colombia: demobilized guerillas targeted for terror

The United Nations condemned the assassination of two demobilized FARC members at an election campaign rally in the central plaza of Peque, a town in Colombia's Antioquia department. The UN Verification Mission noted that this was the first deadly attack within the framework of the 2018 electoral process, in which the FARC is participating as a newly formed political party. According to a December report by the UN mission, 36 demobilized FARC fighters and 13 of their family members have been killed in reprisal attacks since the peace deal with the government took effect in late 2016. The FARC’s presidential candidate and former military commander Rodrigo Londoño said members of the organization "have been the target of constant persecution by armed actors that seek to destabilize the implementation of the peace accords." (Photo: Colombia Reports)

The Andes

Bolivia’s African king speaks for coca growers

The "King of the Afro-Bolivians," Julio I, is said to be South America's last reigning monarch, although he lives as a peasant cocalero in the Yungas region on the Andean slopes north of La Paz. The descendants of slaves brought in by the Spanish to work haciendas and silver mines, the Afro-Bolivians today have constitutionally protected autonomy. They have joined with their indigenous Aymara neighbors to demand greater rights for the coca-producing high jungle zone. Julio, of Kikongo royal blood, was crowned in a ceremony recognized by the Bolivian state in 2007. Last month marked 10 years of his official reign. (Photo: Casa Real Afroboliviana)

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Colombia: security forces ‘massacre’ cocaleros

Some 15 civilians were killed and more than 50 were injured when Colombian security forces opened fire during coca eradication operations in a hotly contested incident at a village in the southern region of Nariño. The National Coordinator of Coca, Opium and Marijuana Producers (COCCAM) refutes the authorities' claim that renegade FARC rebels attacked the eradication patrol with improvised explosive devices.

The Andes

Colombia: peace process model for world

In his final address to the UN General Assembly as president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos delivered a message of peace, portraying the agreement between his government and the FARC guerilla as a model for the rest of the world. But the peace process continues to face numerous challenges in its implementation—not least of which from US pressure to maintain aggressive counter-narcotics operations.

The Andes

Colombia: cocaleros resist forced eradication

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 Andes

Colombia: FARC becomes legal political party

Before an audience of thousands in Bogotá's Plaza Bolívar, the FARC announced its transformation into a new political party with the same acronym: the Popular Alternative Revolutionary Force. But the US State Department is actually blaming Colombia's peace process for the surge in coca production in the country, saying the FARC encouraged peasants to plant more so as to reap promised government subsidies for conversion to legal agriculture.

The Andes

Colombian coca production in record jump

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.

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Colombia: push to resume glyphosate spraying

A new ruling by Colombia's top court may open the way for a resumption of glyphosate spraying to wipe out coca crops, which was suspended in 2015 due to health concerns.

The Andes

Colombia: race to salvage peace process

Under pressure from a citizen mobilization for peace, Colombia's government is scrambling to revive the FARC disarmament and demobilization process after it nearly broke down.

The Andes

Will coca sabotage Colombian peace process?

Enemies of Colombia's peace process are dealt propaganda assistance by the fact that as the long civil war has wound down, coca leaf production in the country has been soaring.