Tag Archives: FARC

Colombia Peace Deal: FARC Announces Cease-Fire And Downs Weapons

Members of the 51st Front of the FARC patrol in the remote mountains of Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Members of the 51st Front of the FARC patrol in the remote mountains of Colombia. Credit: Reuters

ITV News‎

One of the world’s longest-running conflicts is set to come to an end as the commander of Colombia’s rebel movement has said its fighters will permanently cease hostilities with the government.

The truce will begin with the first minute of Monday, as a result of their peace deal after 52 years of conflict.

Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, made the announcement in Havana, where the two sides negotiated for four years to come to an agreement.

“Never again will parents be burying their sons and daughters killed in the war,” said Londono, who also known as Timoshenko. “All rivalries and grudges will remain in the past.”

The conflict has killed an estimated 260,000 people and displaced millions.

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stand in line to get food at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stand in line to get food at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia. Credit: Reuters

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that his military would cease attacks on the FARC beginning Monday.

Colombia is expected to hold a national referendum 2 October to give voters the chance to approve the deal for ending a half-century of political violence that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and driven more than 5 million people from their homes

After the agreement is signed, FARC guerrillas are supposed to begin handing their weapons over to United Nations-sponsored monitors.


Uprooted By War, Colombian Indigenous People Doubt Peace

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia's messy, many-sided war (AFP Photo/Guillermo Legaria)

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia’s messy, many-sided war (AFP Photo/Guillermo Legaria)


Bogota (AFP) – When Delfina Wazorna thinks back on the home she left behind, she remembers machine guns, armed men and death threats.

It makes the Embera indigenous woman skeptical of the peace deal that Colombia’s government and its main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have vowed to sign in the first three months of the new year.

“There will never be peace,” said Wazorna, 54, who fled her ancestral lands eight years ago with her family after they found their house surrounded with explosives.

They drifted from city to city before finally landing at a shelter in the capital Bogota set up to accommodate members of her indigenous community uprooted by the half-century conflict.

“It’s all lies. These people don’t forgive. The guerrillas told me, ‘You can hide for 30 years, but if you come back you’ll die,'” a traditional healer named Ariel told AFP at the same shelter.

Ariel, who declined to give his last name, also fled in 2004 after someone put a machete into the wall of his house with a death threat hanging from the blade.

The Embera, whose lands lie mainly in the tropical forests of the Choco and Risaralda departments of western Colombia, have been trapped in the crossfire of Colombia’s messy, many-sided war.

The conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has drawn in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers since the Marxist FARC was launched in 1964.

The Embera say they have been terrorized by the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN), a rival rebel movement that has yet to join the peace process, and other armed groups.

More than 1,000 Embera have fled to Bogota over the years, where they get by however they can — often by begging.

Many try to return after a period of urban exile. But their homecoming is complicated by lingering violence and a lack of infrastructure.

“There are still risks in Embera territory,” said Julia Madariaga, who runs the ethnic affairs unit at the government agency set up to help victims of the conflict.

– From jungle to street –

Since the shelter in Bogota was created in 2011, it has hosted 1,098 Embera. Of those, just 87 remain today.

But not all have managed to return home. Authorities say there are currently 370 Embera holed up in cheap hotels in the capital, paying $2 to $7 a night.

“I could say I’m going home, but where?” said Norbey Giraldo, 23, who tried to go back to Risaralda with a group of 112 families four years ago, but ended up back in Bogota.

The influx was too large for the indigenous reservation, and the government resettled some of the families elsewhere.

Giraldo, who first arrived in Bogota as a boy about 12 years ago and left as a married man with three kids, said he was taken to a plot of land with no house whose previous owner had left after his two children were killed.

“We received threats by armed men from I don’t know which group. They told us, ‘Get out of here. This isn’t your land,'” Giraldo said.

“They gave us until December 15 to leave.”

He and his family didn’t wait around until then.

“The homecomings have been awful,” said Alberto Wazorna, an Embera who sits on Colombia’s National Indigenous Organization. He said there was not enough health, education and housing infrastructure in place for returnees.

Unable to go home because of lingering guerrilla activity, Lisandro Nacavera, a 50-year-old Embera who fled 16 years ago, is working on setting up a new reservation on private land.

He said it saddens him to see the way his people live in the city.

“They’ve gotten used to begging instead of farming their land,” he said.

“An Embera without land isn’t an Embera.”


Red Power Media contains copyrighted material. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair dealing” in an effort to advance a better understanding of Indigenous – political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to our followers for educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair dealing” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For Peace, Colombia Must Return Stolen Land, Respect Rights: Amnesty

FARC Guerrillas

FARC Rebels

By Anastasia Moloney | Reuters

BOGOTA – The Colombian government must ensure indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities uprooted by warring factions can return home and have a greater say in how their lands are developed, rights group Amnesty International said.

Over five decades of conflict, more than six million Colombians have been forced off their land by fighting among Marxist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and government troops, government figures show.

The issue of how to return stolen and abandoned land to its rightful owners is a key talking point at peace talks in Cuba between the government and the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Displaced communities wanting to return also face the problem of exploitation by mining companies, according to a report published by Amnesty on Wednesday.

“Any peace deal will be meaningless unless the rights of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to return to their lands and decide how they are used are prioritized above companies’ desire to exploit those lands for their own profit,” said Erika Guevara, Amnesty’s Americas director, in a statement.

At least eight million hectares of land – some 14 percent of Colombian territory – have been abandoned or illegally acquired through fraud, violence or extortion, the report said.

Most of those affected are farming, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities who earn their living from their land and whose land is rich in resources.

Displaced people who owned their land are eligible to claim it back under a historic land restitution law passed in 2011.

The law, a crucial reform of the government of Juan Manuel Santos, aims to return millions of hectares of stolen land to its rightful owners and to enable displaced people to return home and claim reparations.

The law is a “significant step forward,” but land return is plagued by problems ranging from bureaucracy to intimidation, including death threats against claimants, Amnesty said.

“Nearly four years since the process began … only a relatively small proportion of such lands have been returned to their rightful occupants,” the report said.

Ricardo Sabogal, who heads the government entity charged with overseeing land restitution, said the government has handed back 173,000 hectares of land benefiting about 20,000 Colombians.

“It’s not easy to push ahead with a process of land restitution in the middle of a conflict,” Sabogal told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“That’s why peace is so important, so that families can go back quickly and safely to their lands.”

He said ensuring displaced people return to their lands is also made difficult because of landmines, mostly planted by FARC rebels, littering parts of the countryside.

Since 2000, successive governments have granted licenses to local and international mining and other companies looking to tap into Colombia’s mineral and oil resources, the report said.

The economy is driven by commodity exports, and the country is Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer.

By law, companies planning projects must first consult communities living on or using the land they want to exploit.

Amnesty said it had written to several companies with mining projects on lands where indigenous communities live.

In response mining company AngloGold Ashanti, which operates gold mines in western Choco province, told Amnesty it was committed to the “lawful consent of indigenous communities” for projects on lands traditionally owned or used by ethnic groups “and are likely to have a significant impact on these groups.”

But Amnesty said in general licenses have often been granted to companies which have not consulted communities nor obtained their free and informed consent.

“Unless the authorities can ensure that these rights are effectively respected as a matter of urgency … it risks leaving one of the principal causes of the armed conflict unresolved. This could have serious repercussions for the long-term viability of any eventual peace agreement,” the report said. (Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://www.trust.org)


Nasa tribe applies Indigenous justice on FARC guerrillas (Video)

Hundreds of indigenous people accompany the coffin of Daniel Coicue, a member of the indigenous Nasa tribe killed by Farc rebels(Luis Robayo/AFP)

Hundreds of indigenous people accompany the coffin of Daniel Coicue, a member of the indigenous Nasa tribe killed by Farc rebels(Luis Robayo/AFP)

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

One of Colombia’s largest indigenous groups, the Nasa, have had to struggle for decades against interference from both guerrilla and military forces. Their territory has been a strategic battlefield in Colombia’s long-running civil war.

When Farc guerrillas killed two Nasa tribe members for removing banners commemorating the death of Farc leader Alfonso Cano, some 300 tribesman armed only with sticks pursued the guerrillas.  “They were surrounded and forced to surrender,” said Gabriel Padi, a senior member of the indigenous council.

As a nonviolent society, the only arms the culture uses are sticks that their “indigenous guards” carry as mere symbols of power.

“We only have our traditional stick, our hearts, and our words”, Jorgelise Ucue, a Nasa leader said.

The verdict and sentences were decided after several hours of debate by an assembly of more than 2,000 Nasa members from their indigenous reserve in the Cauca province town of Toribio.

The convicted the guerrillas received sentences that ranged from 40 to 60 years in prison. Two minors were given 20 lashes in public and sent to juvenile detention. Families of the convicted were devastated.

Human rights groups say 40 members of indigenous tribes were killed during 2014 in Colombia, many at the hands of guerrillas.

Despite the autonomy granted to indigenous tribes and territories by the Colombian constitution, the Nasa people often face marginalization.

Video: Americas Now Correspondent Toby Muse traveled to Toribio, Colombia, in the heart of the Nasa territory, where he witnessed an extraordinary moment, as the community gathered to pass justice to a group of leftist FARC guerrilla members.

A gun belonging to Farc guerrillas is destroyed in Toribio(Luis Robayo/AFP)

A gun belonging to Farc guerrillas is destroyed in Toribio (Luis Robayo/AFP)


ELN is ready to talk peace in Colombia, but without giving up the fight

Carlos Villalon via Getty Images

Carlos Villalon via Getty Images


Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group says it wants to start negotiations with the government after 50 years of war, but said it’s not planning to lay down its weapons or give up the fight just yet.

“We have a plan A, which is to back a political solution with our heart and soul,” National Liberation Army [ELN] leader Pablo Beltran said in a widely anticipated radio address on Wednesday. “But we also have a plan B in case that doesn’t work out. And we are ready for both outcomes.”

Beltran’s announcement comes after six months of exploratory talks between the ELN and the Colombian government. Still, no formal peace process exists between the two. Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, started peace talks with the government in October of 2012 to discuss issues including rural development plans and ways to involve the guerrillas in local politics. In December, the FARC announced it has stopped military operations “indefinitely” to facilitate the ongoing talks.

Now the ELN appears ready to talk too. The group said it trusts the government’s efforts to initiate peace talks, but has repeatedly ignored the government’s call for a ceasefire.

The ELN, with an estimated fighting force or around 2,000, has been significantly debilitated over the past 10 years. Still, the group continues to conduct military operations in Colombia’s eastern plains, where they have staged dozens of attacks on oil pipelines, and in the jungles of Colombia’s Pacific coast.

According to Colombian intelligence, a significant amount of the ELN’s financing comes from extortion payments levied upon oil companies that operate in eastern Colombia.

Founded in the early 1960’s by a coalition of leftist priests, middle class intellectuals and rural workers, the ELN claims to represent the interests of Colombian campesinos and union workers.

In a communique released on Wednesday, the group said it will continue to fight for political changes that will lead to “justice, democracy, equality and happiness.”

The ELN did not elaborate on what specific issues it is willing to negotiate in future peace talks.