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."
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)
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)
Colombia’s government is under pressure from both the United Nations and impacted communities in the conflict zones to rebuild a ceasefire with the ELN guerillas and return to the dialogue table. As a 100-day ceasefire ran out, ELN fighters attacked the Caño Limón oil pipeline, forcing a suspension of pumping operations. The guerillas also attacked a military base in Arauca department. President Juan Manuel Santos responded by recalling his peace negotiator from Quito, where a fifth round of talks with the ELN was set to begin. The ELN peace delegation reacted in a statement, pledging: “We maintain our determination, previously expressed, to agree on a new bilateral ceasefire.” (Photo: Colombia Reports)
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 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.
After all-night negotiations with protest leaders in Colombia's Pacific port of Buenaventura, government representatives pledged to invest $517 million in local infrastructure.
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.
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.
Transcripts of conversations between the highest leaders of the FARC guerillas were revealed by the Colombian media after being intercepted by the Armed Forces.
Two gunmen assassinated Juan Álvaro Pai, traditional governor of the endangered Awá indigenous people, in an incursion into their reserve in Colombia’s Nariño department.
Colombian campesinos ended their national strike and lifted road blockades after the government agreed to suspend a law barring seed-saving to protect corporate GMOs.