Colombia. The conflict in Colombia took new hopeful turns during the year. In late February, FARC (Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces), the largest of the country’s guerrilla groups, first announced the release of all soldiers and policemen held captive over the past ten years. At the same time, FARC announced that they would immediately cease kidnapping, which was one of the most feared activities of guerrillas. President Juan Manuel Santos officially became cold-hearted about the announcement, citing the hundreds that are still without a trace and probably already killed.
Admittedly, the FARC broke its promise to stop kidnapping just two months later by the abduction of French journalist Roméo Langlois. But on August 27, President Santos was able to announce that the government, after preparatory talks kept secret since February in Cuba, intended to initiate peace talks with FARC and also invited the other large guerrilla group ELN (National Liberation Army) to the talks. Peace negotiations began in early October in Oslo, as Norway was diplomatically active on the issue. In early December, President Santos also announced that he gave the negotiations a year to succeed. The fact that presidential elections, in which Santos hopes to be re-elected, will be held in 2014 many skeptics argued that it was political points that were Santo’s main motive for the peace initiative and that the FARC would therefore lose the will to contribute to peace. The fact that no ceasefire was announced during the negotiations was also seen as a bad sign.
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Some successes were noted in the fight against crime. In mid-September, for example, Daniel “El Loco” Barrera, the leader of one of the largest cocaine cartels in Colombia, and in April, one of the leaders of one of the illegal paramilitary groups in the country, Javier Antonio Calle Serna, surrendered to the police and was shortly extradited to the United States.
In mid-November, former Defense Minister Gabriel Silva revealed that spy plan had flown in to neighboring Venezuela during former President Álvaro Uribe’s time in power 2002-10. The pretext was that Colombian guerrillas used Venezuelan territory for their bases, something that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has always denied.
The Colombian Permanent Human Rights Committee condemned the disappearances of 80 prisoners over the previous year, the torture of political prisoners and the documented 300 secret executions. At the same time, the number of disappearances of members on the left rose to 325.
On November 6, 1985, 35 partisans from the M-19 Supreme Court occupied Bogota. The military intervened and conducted a complete massacre. All partisans as well as 53 other people – judges and civilians – were killed. Guerrilla commander Alonso stated that the dead “had been intentionally executed by the army”.
By this time, 2,000 members of the legal left had been killed during right-wing terror. In 1987, the prominent UP member, Jaime Pardo Leal, was killed in an assassination attempt. In August 89, the senator and candidate for the presidency in 90, Luis Carlos Galán, was killed. He had promised to disband the paramilitary groups and fight the drug mafia. In March 1990, Bernardo Jaramillo was killed. He was the presidential candidate for the UP. 20 days later, Jaramillo’s successor, Carlos Pizarro, was killed.
Official investigations confirmed the existence of 140 paramilitary groups in the country – most funded by the drug cartels. During the same period, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was accused of spraying coca plantations with poison. Over the previous 10 years, the drug addict had gained tremendous power in the country. The “underground economy”, based on the trade in coca, refining and exports, took place on secret channels, was tacitly tolerated by the authorities and made huge profits.
At the presidential election on May 27, 1990, Liberal César Gaviria was elected by 48% of the vote, in an election where 58% abstained. MSN got 23.7%, ADM-19 (M-19 guerrilla political successor) got 12.6% and PSC 11.9%.
In December of that year, elections for a constitutional assembly were held. By this election, the number of couch voters reached 65%. The ADM-19 gained 19 seats – only 4 less than the ruling Liberal Party.
ELN leader killed
One of the Marxist guerrillas ELN’s most important leader, Andrés Vanegas, has been killed in a military operation in the Chocó department in the northwest. It announces President Iván Duque, who calls it a severe blow to the guerrillas. Vanegas, who goes by the name Uriel, is accused of kidnapping, murdering and recruiting minors. He is also said to have been behind the car bombing of a police academy in Bogotá, an assassination attempt that caused Duque to stop peace talks with the ELN (see January 2019).
Ex-guerrilla confesses to murder
Members of the now-disbanded Farc guerrilla group are responsible for six murders of high-ranking officials, committed between 1987 and 2002. Among the victims is former presidential candidate Álvaro Gómez, who was assassinated in 1995. It has been widely believed that Gómez, who was the leader of the Conservative Party (PCC), was taken by days of political rivals allied to the military and drug traffickers. The acknowledgment comes in a letter to the special judicial body JEP, which investigates crimes during the war between the FARC and the government, from three former FARC commanders. Two of them are now members of Congress.
Former right-wing militia leaders arrested
A former leader of the semi-military militia groups AUC in the 00s, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, is arrested when he is deported from the United States after twelve years in prison there. In the United States, he was convicted of drug smuggling while in his home country he is suspected of mass murder, kidnapping and torture. The government entered into a peace agreement with the AUC, but Pupo was exempted from the amnesty which included the majority of members. He was extradited to the United States in 2008.
US reward for ELN leader arrested
The United States promises a reward of up to $ 5 million for information leading to the arrest of the leader of the Marxist guerrilla ELN, Wilver Villegas Palomino. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter about the “accused drug terrorist”. According to the United States, for 20 years, the ELN has been involved in the smuggling of cocaine to the United States to fund its guerrilla activities. Pompeo has just concluded a visit to Colombia where he expressed his support for President Iván Duque’s government.
Violent in protest against police violence
At least ten people have died in protests against a case of police violence in Bogotá. More than 300 people are also injured, of which just over 100 police officers. In 58 cases, these are gunshot wounds. The protests have broken out since a video was shown of a police intervention the day before, where an electric shock weapon is repeatedly used against a man who is also being pressed to the ground. The man is later taken to hospital where he dies. The intervention was made due to a violation of rules on social distancing. The unrest that breaks out in the capital is also spreading to other cities.
Electoral authority investigates the president’s party
The National Electoral Council states that an investigation has been launched by President Iván Duque and his party Democratic Center (CD), which is suspected of violating funding laws in connection with the 2018 election campaign. A donation of 300,000 dollars from a Venezuelan businessman, Oswaldo Cisneros, by the Council, which is the country’s highest electoral authority. The background is recorded conversations between CD leader Nubia Martínez and a suspected drug dealer who was later murdered in Brazil. Foreign contributions to political campaigns are banned in Colombia.
Ex-President Uribe under house arrest
The Supreme Court decides to put former President Álvaro Uribe (2002–2010) under house arrest, while he is investigated for fraud, bribery and for trying to influence witnesses (see also October 2019). Uribe is also accused of links to right-wing militias, which in turn are suspected of serious human rights violations. President Iván Duque expresses on social media his support for Uribe, who is his political mentor. After two weeks in house arrest, Uribe announces that he is leaving the Senate, of which he has been a member since 2014. After just over two months, on October 11, he will escape house arrest even if the accusations remain.
According to countryaah, the population of Colombia in 2012 was 47,520,556, ranking number 29 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.000% yearly, and the population density was 42.8307 people per km2.