HomeNewsBrief8 Months In, Concerns Linger as Colombia's FARC Peace Process Advances
BRIEF

8 Months In, Concerns Linger as Colombia's FARC Peace Process Advances

COLOMBIA / 20 JUL 2017 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

A new report on the main successes and shortcomings of Colombia's historic peace process with the FARC guerrilla group shows that rural violence and politics continue to be major obstacles to a deal that could either reform and improve Colombia's countryside or precipitate a new era of criminal chaos.

The latest update from Colombia's Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Fundación Paz y Reconciliaciónon) on the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) highlights both achievements and stumbling blocks in this landmark process, now in its eighth month. 

There are several facts that point to concrete advances in the process. Notably, the guerrillas have turned over a larger number of weapons than the number of fighters disarming, something that has never happened in any previous peace process across the world, according to the foundation.

The report also credits the ceasefire between the Colombian government and the insurgency for saving thousands of lives, driving down homicide rates.

Still, while murders, kidnappings and extortion have fallen in many places where the FARC used to operate, these "post-FARC" regions have been plunged into unknown and often violent forms of criminal governance. Five main scenarios resulting from the FARC vacuum are described in the report:

 

  1. Areas are occupied by the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN), the second biggest guerrilla force in Colombia. This has been detected in 12 municipalities.
  2. Areas are occupied by the BACRIM, criminal organizations largely consisting of demobilized right-wing paramilitaries. This has been detected in 74 municipalities, 18 of which were a result of BACRIM expansion.
  3. FARC dissidents are present. This has been detected in 16 municipalities.
  4. Criminal anarchy, areas where no criminal group has taken over, causing a rise in petty crime (but not necessarily in violence).
  5. State forces move in to take control.

The fifth scenario is currently in progress, with the army already setting up over 1,000 bases across Colombia manned by around 300,000 troops. The police have deployed 172,000 agents to nearly 5,000 divisions in eight of Colombia's 32 departments. Twelve thousand more have been sent to the FARC's demobilization zones, and an elite force of 1,000 agents has been created to combat organized crime.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Security Policy

But while the state rolls out its new security strategy, the 90 percent of the peace deal that focuses on improving life for the Colombian population is being stalled by politics. One of the compromises made following the rejection of the original deal in a public referendum last October was that congress would have to vote on the individual points of the agreement, slowing its implementation. Of the many laws included in the signed peace accords, those that have been passed so far have largely favored armed actors. Those surrounding agricultural innovation, land usage and congressional seats for particularly conflict-ridden communities, have yet to be passed.

However, a recent court ruling means that these laws will be subject to more debate and therefore work their way more slowly through congress. This potentially opens the door for the bills to be sabotaged by Colombia's political opposition, which has vehemently resisted the peace deal.

InSight Crime Analysis

Even with the FARC disarmed, this new report offers further evidence that the peace deal is now facing at least two major obstacles: violence in vulnerable rural communities, and legal delays.

As InSight Crime has noted in the past, many populations that previously lived under the yoke of the FARC now find themselves defenseless against petty crime or new armed groups. This has caused murder rates to skyrocket in municipalities such as Olaya Herrera, west Colombia, where InSight Crime researchers were told that homicides had reached a rate of 375 per 100,000 citizens.

At the same time, there have been more targeted attacks on social leaders as groups attempt to eliminate local resistance to their authority. Since the peace deal was signed in November 2016, an average of one social leader has been killed every four days, according to the report.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

While the security force deployment will hopefully counter mounting insecurity, the government must also start bringing other state institutions to remote rural areas that will help locals improve their quality of life.

However, there has been dissatisfaction surrounding the government's handling of the process so far. Hold-ups in the promised release of FARC prisoners have driven over 1,500 guerrillas to go on hunger strike, while the FARC have constantly and loudly admonished the government for not constructing their demobilization zones on time.

Both the outbreaks of violence and the government's delays risk seeing Colombian citizens -- and the FARC -- lose trust in the peace process, hindering cooperation between local communities and state actors implementing the peace deal's new rural programs.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 23 OCT 2013

Authorities in Venezuela have destroyed 17 cocaine labs near the border with Colombia, highlighting the continued pattern of the migration…

ALFONSO CANO / 26 APR 2011

With a British think tank set to publish a WikiLeaks-style database of unedited computer documents seized from the camp of…

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012

Seven US citizens, three of whom supposedly identified themselves as cops, were reportedly present at an alleged Colombian drug trafficker's…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…