HomeNewsBriefColombia’s Coca Fields Will Fuel Conflict Post Agreement
BRIEF

Colombia’s Coca Fields Will Fuel Conflict Post Agreement

COLOMBIA / 23 MAR 2016 BY DAN ALDER EN

Proponents of enduring peace in Colombia are warning that an agreement taking shape to end over 50 years of civil conflict between the government and FARC guerrillas will not address all sources of violence and is sure to generate new ones in long-suffering rural areas of the Andean nation.

The United Nations is warning that the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) is likely to “generate power vacuums and disputes over the control of sources of illegal income,” El Tiempo reported this week.

A recent study by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (La Fundación Paz y Reconciliación) concluded that prevailing social conditions and the absence of state institutions will combine with illegal activity to make 281 municipalities in 26 of the country’s 32 departments “the perfect territory for new phenomena of violence.”

The study (pdf) titled “Challenges of the Post-Conflict” (Los Retos del Posconflicto) notes that 25 percent of Colombia’s municipalities will face varying degrees of post-agreement vulnerability. “The idea is that government action should, at least during the first 18 months, be directed at those municipalities at extreme risk,” foundation Director León Valencia told El Colombiano. The study indicates that 33 municipalities fall into the “extreme” category.

“There are many illicit activities,” León Valencia said, citing illegal mining, contraband and human trafficking, in addition to the illegal drug trade. “This is a clear message that it’s not just a matter of negotiating with those 20,000 guerrillas and militia or with criminal bands…. Without good alternatives to these illegal economies the post-conflict is practically unfeasible.”

SEE ALSO:  FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

Unrepentant forces of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) and the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular Nacional – EPL) are a continuing concern, as well as timber trafficking and extortion.

InSight Crime Analysis

An on-going investigation by InSight Crime indicates that loosening of FARC control over coca production will take center stage in the post-agreement power struggle. The study, titled “Undermining Colombia’s Criminal Economies: The Roadmap to Lasting Peace,” estimates that FARC members earn up to $1 billion a year from the coca business, although it’s unclear how much of the money goes to the guerrilla organization.

The peace talks come as coca production is booming in Colombia, with cultivation growing by roughly 40 percent in 2014 and is believed to have made similar or greater gains in 2015.

Other peace processes in the region providing precedent for continued or worsening violence in the post-agreement era include Colombia’s paramilitary organization United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC) and El Salvador’s civil war.

Before its demobilization, the AUC used the conflict to camouflage illicit economic activities that included drug trafficking, displacement, kidnapping, and extortion. Post-demobilization, AUC commanders and their troops abandoned the politically motivated conflict but many stuck with the lucrative drug trade.

Social pressures and failed institutional reform fueled extreme rates of violence that developed in post-civil war El Salvador. Broken families and limited livelihood opportunities combined with changes in US immigration policy to fuel an explosion of originally Los Angeles-based gangs across Central America’s Northern Triangle region (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras).

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 15 APR 2016

Colombia's defense minister recently said that the criminal groups descended from right-wing paramilitary organizations should expect no formal demobilization process,…

COLOMBIA / 8 APR 2014

The government in Colombia is to strengthen customs controls on its borders in an attempt to tackle widespread contraband smuggling…

COLOMBIA / 14 JUL 2016

The municipality of El Bagre in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia department is a clear example of what could…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…