The Amazon
Trujillo Arana

Indigenous leader slain in Venezuelan Amazon

A Venezuelan indigenous leader who fought against incursions by Colombian armed groups and outlaw gold miners into the country’s southern rainforest was shot dead in Puerto Ayacucho municipality, capital of Amazonas state. Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a member of the Uwottujja people, was the leading force in creation of the Sipapo Territorial Guards in Autana municipality, Amazonas. The Territorial Guard patrols were launched with support from the Amazonas Indigenous Peoples’ Regional Organization (ORPIA). (Photo: SOS Orinoco)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Podcast: the forgotten war in Colombia

In Episode 128 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg provides an in-depth analysis of the under-reported multi-sided armed conflict and deepening human rights crisis in Colombia on the eve of an historic run-off election that poses two “outsider” candidates for the presidency: Gustavo Petro, an ex-guerilla and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hernández, a far-right construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. This turning point comes as Colombia has entered a new “partnership” with NATO, in response to Venezuela’s deepening ties with Russia. Yet Colombia’s armed forces continue to collaborate with the paramilitary groups that terrorize campesino and indigenous communities. If elected, Petro will face the challenge of breaking the state-paramilitary nexus, and charting a course independent of the Great Powers. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Contagio Radio)

The Andes
Arauca

Multi-sided warfare across Colombia

Despite a peace process that has faltered under President Ivan Duque, the internal war in Colombia continues nearly across the country—now involving multiple armed actors: remnant guerilla groups, resurgent paramilitary forces, regional cartels, and the official security forces. Thousands have been displaced in recent months, as campesino and indigenous communities are either caught in the crossfire or explicitly targeted. (Photo: INDEPAZ via Contagio Radio)

The Andes
colombiahr

Protest closing of ICC Colombia investigation

A coalition of Colombian human rights groups and survivors’ organizations released a statement decrying as “shocking” the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to close its preliminary examination of possible war crimes carried out in the country. The statement, jointly issued by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), said that closure of the examination “could mean that hundreds or thousands of victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC will be deprived of knowing the truth and obtaining justice concerning the crimes committed. In Colombia…there is still a systematic absence of investigation of those responsible at the highest levels for crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC.” (Photo: Prensa Rural)

The Andes
Partnership of the Americas 2009

Colombia joins ‘new partnership’ with NATO

President Joe Biden issued an executive order designating Colombia a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States. The designation facilitates further weapons transfers from the US to Colombia, and increased military cooperation between the two countries. Colombia is the third MNNA in Latin America, after Brazil and Argentina. Weeks earlier, a delegation of NATO staff visited Colombia to discuss the South American country’s participation in the alliance’s Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP). Colombia became NATO’s newest “global partner” in 2018, but this relationship was reinforced last December, when it became a member of the NATO Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
Francia-Petro

Colombia: pending presidency ‘between two populisms’

Following a first round of presidential elections, “between two populisms” is the catchphrase being used by Colombia’s media for an unprecedented moment. A pair of political “outsiders” are to face each other in the run-off: Gustavo Petro, a former guerilla leader and Colombia’s first leftist presidential contender, versus Rodolfo Hernández, a construction magnate whose pugnacious swagger inevitably invites comparison to Donald Trump. Hernández, an independent candidate and the former mayor of Bucaramanga, rose precipitously in an ostensibly anti-establishment campaign driven by social media, winning him the epithet “King of TikTok.” But Colombia’s political establishment is now lining up behind him to defeat Petro. The former mayor of Bogotá and a veteran of the demobilized M-19 guerillas, Petro is the candidate of a new progressive coalition, Colombia Humana, emphasizing multiculturalism and ecology as well as more traditional social justice demands. (Photo via Twitter)

Central America
Archipelago of San Andrés

Win for Nicaragua in maritime dispute with Colombia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague ruled that Colombia must end its “interference” in parts of the Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua, and bring under control fishing and other activities in the zone. This culminates a long conflict between Nicaragua and Colombia. In two rulings in 2007 and 2012, the ICJ recognized the sovereignty of Colombia in the islands constituting the Archipelago of San Andrés. However, the rulings also recognized the jurisdiction of Nicaragua in the surrounding waters. Colombia continued its activities in those waters, prompting Nicaragua to file a new complaint with the Court in 2013. Colombia argued that its actions were necessary to fight drug trafficking and secure environmental protection of the waters. In its new ruling, the ICJ found that these waters are within the exclusive economic zone of Nicaragua, and the “intervention” of another state is contrary to international law. (Map: Wikipedia)

The Andes
Uber Velásquez

Another assassination at Colombian ‘peace community’

A new assassination of a campesino leader is reported from the self-declared “peace community” of San José de Apartadó, in Colombia’s conflicted northern Urabá region. Uber Velásquez was slain by unknown assailants at the hamlet of La Balsa, one of those adhering to the “peace community” which for more than 20 years has refused all cooperation with armed actors in Colombia’s conflict—and whose leaders have been repeatedly targeted for death. Days later, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) formally declared that the February 2005 massacre at San José de Apartadó—in which eight residents were slain, including three children—was a “crime against humanity.” (Photo via Twitter)

The Andes
arauca

Anti-war protests in northeast Colombia

Rural communities in Colombia’s northeastern Arauca department held anti-war protests amid inter-factional guerilla violence that has been terrorizing the region. Demanding attention from the government and international human rights organizations, some 1,200 marched in the hamlets of Puerto Jordan and Botalón. Recent days had seen an outbreak of fighting in the area between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and “dissident” factions of the demobilized FARC guerillas that have refused to lay down arms, in defiance of a 2016 peace agreement. At least 23 were killed in the clashes, which were said to be over control of smuggling routes across the nearby Venezuelan border. About a dozen local families were also forced to flee their homes. (Photo: Arauca Online via Colombia Reports)

The Andes
ESMAD

UN urges reform of Colombia National Police

The UN human rights office says a “profound change” is needed in how Colombia’s National Police force, run by the Defense Ministry, handles protests, after concluding that law enforcement agents were responsible for at least 28 deaths during anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. A report by the UN body’s Colombia representative said the response to the widespread protests involved “unnecessary or disproportionate force.” Aside from murder, police forces were accused of arbitrary detentions and sexual violence against civilians. The unrest began in reaction to a tax reform bill—that was later ditched—but was fuelled by anger over broader economic and social inequalities. Amnesty International recently reported that the number of eye injuries (more than 100) sustained by protesters was an “indication of intentionality” by the police force. (Photo: WikiMedia)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia: inactive guerillas join active paras off US terror list

The US State Department announced that Colombia’s disbanded FARC guerilla army has been removed from the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The statement acknowledged that the FARC “no longer exists as a unified organization.” In fact, the de-listing came on the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement under which the FARC agreed to demobilize. However, the right-wing paramilitary groups now active across the country are still not listed by the State Department. These paramilitary forces are overwhelmingly behind the ongoing campaign of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia.  (Photo via Contagio Radio)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia’s most wanted para boss arrested

Colombia’s most wanted fugitive, the notorious paramilitary commander Dairo Antonio Úsuga AKA “Otoniel,” was arrested by security forces following a years-long manhunt, the government announced. The chief of the outlawed Gaitanista Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) was apprehended in a joint operation by the army and National Police in Necocli, a municipality of Urabá region on the Caribbean coast. The raid on Necocli involved hundreds of troops and some 20 helicopters. The US government considers the AGC Colombia’s largest drug trafficking organization, and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Otoniel in 2017, eight years after he was indicted by a federal court in New York. It is unclear if the Colombian government intends to extradite. (Photo: Colombia Reports)