Colombia. Carlos Castaño, leader of the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) umbrella organization of the paramilitary forces, disappeared without trace on April 16, following an armed attack by unknown perpetrators against his property, killing Castaño and killing several of his bodyguards. Many rumors have flourished ever since about what has happened, and some point to internal contradictions within AUC as a factor. Just a few weeks before the attack, Castaño had, for example. excluded from a negotiation delegation.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Colombia is 50,882,902 people in 2020. Armed fighting between various paramilitary militias also occurred, hampering the disarmament process that the AUC agreed with the government in July 2003, and which went slow. A key dispute has been the threat of extradition to the United States by paramilitary leaders suspected of cocaine smuggling, including both Castaño and his successor Salvatore Mancuso.
On May 13, Peace Commissioner Luís Carlos Restrepo declared the creation of a free zone in the Tierralta region of the Department of Córdoba for negotiations with the paramilitary groups on disarmament. According to the original agreement between the government and the AUC, 13,000 militiamen would be demobilized in the coming years, but from the start of the project a few months later, only about 900 have been affected. Negotiations were also suspended on June 28 after Senator José Eduardo Gnecco was kidnapped, and not until October 7 did AUC’s new leader Salvatore Mancuso announce that another 300 militiamen would be demobilized by the end of the year.
Negotiations with the left-wing guerrilla ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), which was suspended in March 2003, were also resumed, and the government was also able to register several military successes in the fight against the largest guerrilla group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). A senior FARC officer, Hernando Buitrago, surrendered himself to the authorities, and another, Simón Trinidad, was arrested in January by the Ecuadorian police in Quito. Militarily, however, FARC remained strong; At a raid on the city of Neiva on February 24, several kidnappings were carried out.
While the government’s military and diplomatic offensive has been relatively successful, and security has improved (for example, the number of kidnappings has been halved), internal refugees have increased in number. Human rights groups reported an increase of 9% in the first half of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2003, and in total they amounted to 3 million people or about 7% of the country’s population.
In April 2010, President Uribe accused Senator Piedad Córdoba of being a member of the FARC. The senator has been acting as a mediator between the government and the FARC for a number of years to facilitate prisoner exchanges between the two parties in the country’s armed conflict, but despite a strong desire by the population for prisoner exchange, the government is not interested. By spreading the claim of Córdoba’s membership of the FARC, it has sent her into exile where she is no longer a threat to the government’s war policy.
In April, on its own initiative, the FARC released a number of prisoners of war – captured Colombian soldiers.
The presidential election in Colombia was conducted in 2 rounds. In the first round in May, Fascist Party candidate Juan Manuel Santos got 46.7% of the vote, while the Greens Antanas Mockus got 21.5%. In June’s second round of elections, Santos gained 69.1% while Mockus had to settle for 27.5%. Turnout declined from 55% in the first round to 44.5% in the second round. The decline reflected the widespread frustration at being able to choose between 2 right-wing candidates. Juan Manuel Santos was Minister of Defense under Uribe and responsible for Colombia’s attack on Ecuador in 2008. During his time as Minister of Defense, 4-5,000 Colombians were executed by his forces.
To end his presidential term, in July 2010, Álvaro Uribe accused Venezuela of allowing FARC and ELN to operate from its territory. The baseless accusations led Venezuela to cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia. Only after UNASUR’s intervention were the two countries reconciled. Despite fundamental ideological differences, neither of the 2 countries could live with a permanent threat of war.
Santos announced in August 2012 that Colombia had initiated initial peace talks with the FARC. Just two months later, he was awarded the Shalom Award by the World Jewish Congress for his efforts to “make peace in his own country and globally.” Israel has a tradition of more than 40 years of close cooperation with Latin American military dictatorships. Israel has provided military advisers, weapons and assistance; has taught torture and rebellion.
The peace talks between Colombia’s citizenship and the FARC began in October 2012 in Norway, but were quickly moved to Cuba. At the same time, the FARC initiated a two-month unilateral ceasefire. The government refused to join the ceasefire. In April 2013, a land reform agreement was signed. The agreement includes the creation of a land bank, more equitable land distribution and the return of lands to their original owners. Right-wing terrorist groups have occupied significant lands in Colombia since 2000 and displaced the original landowners. In November, an agreement was reached on the FARC’s incorporation into political life in Colombia. The next negotiating topic was drug dealing. An agreement in this area was concluded in May 2014. However, there were still important areas that were not negotiated in place: disarmament of the guerrillas.