The bloody peace in Colombia

Colombia’s grueling civil war lasted over 50 years. In 2016, FARC agreed to lay down their weapons. [Online until: June 25, 2018]

FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is now a political party. But the violence hasn’t ended: former FARC commanders are being hunted down, drug cultivation is widespread and atrocities committed during the conflict remain unaddressed. In the autumn of 2017, the former guerilla army FARC transitioned to a leftist alternative revolutionary political party – without weapons. To some, FARC stood for the fight for a just cause, to others, only suffering. The conflict left nearly 220,000 dead, and FARC kidnappings traumatized thousands more. In acts of revenge, more than 20 former FARC commanders have been killed in recent years. “The war has taken its toll, that’s why we need peace now”, says former fighter Omar Jimenez. Human rights activists and village leaders in remote areas are reminded daily that peace has not yet provided them any real security. Erlendy Cuero speaks about her brother, Bernardo Cuero. The activist for the rights of the Afro-Colombian minority was the target of constant threats. A few days before he was killed, he had requested protection from the authorities. To no avail. “The number of murders of village leaders and human rights activists has risen since the peace agreement”, says Erlendy Cuero. Ariel Ávila from the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation in Bogotá agrees. Approximately every four days, a human rights activist or village leader is killed. The story is always the same; the victims are activists fighting the exploitation of natural resources in their communities and land grabbing by paramilitary groups. Since the peace agreement, coca cultivation has flourished, lending drug cartels new strength. In the past, areas controlled by FARC were obliged to reserve some land to grow food for the fighters. But since there’s more money to be made from growing coca, farmers no longer abide by that. Peace remains fragile in Colombia.

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