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  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The accelerating deterioration of Venezuela’s political crisis is cause for growing concern. The collapse in 2014 of an incipient dialogue between government and opposition ushered in growing political instability. With legislative elections due in December, there are fears of renewed violence. But there is a less widely appreciated side of the drama. A sharp fall in real incomes, major shortages of essential foods, medicines and other basic goods and breakdown of the health service are elements of a looming social crisis. If not tackled decisively and soon, it will become a humanitarian disaster with a seismic impact on domestic politics and society, and on Venezuela’s neighbours. This situation results from poor policy choices, incompetence and corruption; however, its gravest consequences can still be avoided. This will not happen unless the political deadlock is overcome and a fresh consensus forged, which in turn requires strong engagement of foreign governments and multilateral bodies.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Health, Food, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Whether the National Liberation Army (ELN) joins the current peace process is one of the biggest uncertainties around Colombia's historic opportunity to end decades of deadly conflict. Exploratory contacts continue, and pressure to advance decisively is growing, as the Havana negotiations with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) approach a decisive point. However, hopes fresh negotiations with the second insurgency were imminent were repeatedly dashed in 2013. Agreeing on an agenda and procedures that satisfy the ELN and are consistent with the Havana frame-work will not be easy. The ELN thinks the government needs to make an overture or risk ongoing conflict; the government believes the ELN must show flexibility or risk being left out. But delay is in neither's long-term interest. A process from which the ELN is missing or to which it comes late would lack an essential element for the construction of sustainable peace. Both sides, therefore, should shift gears to open negotiations soonest, without waiting for a perfect alignment of stars in the long 2014 electoral season.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements, War on Drugs, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Within ten days, Guatemalan courts made and unmade legal history. The trial and conviction of former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt on 10 May 2013 for genocide and other human rights violations was an extraordinary achievement for a justice system that must grapple simultaneously with the legacy of a vicious internal conflict and the contemporary scourges of gang violence, corruption and illegal drug trafficking. Victims had barely finished celebrating, however, when the Constitutional Court annulled the verdict in a confusing decision that raised questions of outside interference. Widespread impunity for past and present violence continues to have a corrosive effect on the country's democracy. Failure to renew the trial for mass atrocities against Ríos Montt and pursue justice for the victims of violent crime would undermine its halting progress toward rule of law, including a strong independent judiciary.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Genocide, Human Rights, Narcotics Trafficking, Law
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Guatemala
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Uncertainty over President Hugo Chávez's health adds to Venezuela's fragility in the run-up to October's presidential election. Amid deep polarisation, his illness overshadows the campaign, while the personalised nature of his rule, weakened institutions, and high levels of criminal violence bode ill for stability even beyond the polls. Brazen violation of the constitution would probably require army support, which not even the president can bank on; regional powers, too, would eye such action warily. But with much at stake, upheaval, even a violent political crisis, remain dangerous possibilities. Political leaders should condemn violence and pledge publicly to respect the constitution – whatever lies ahead. Venezuela's partners in the region should press for international observation and signal clearly they will not condone unconstitutional acts.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 25,000 members of the National Civil Police (PNC) are on the front lines of Guatemala's battle against crime. But all too often citizens distrust and fear the police – widely dismissed as inefficient, corrupt and abusive – as much as the criminals. Underfunded, poorly trained and often out-gunned, they are frequently incapable or unwilling to con-front criminals and gain the public trust needed to build a state based on rule of law. Drug traffickers, including Mex-ican cartels, move at will across porous borders, while criminal gangs dominate many urban areas. The government of President Otto Pérez Molina must reboot and revitalise police reform, as part of an overall effort to strengthen justice and law enforcement, with financial support from the U.S. and other countries interested in preventing Guatemala from becoming a haven for organised crime. Progress has been made, but achievements are fragile and easily reversed.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Crime, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After decades of failed negotiations and attempts to defeat the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) militarily, a political solution to the Western Hemisphere's oldest conflict may be in sight. Following a year of secret contacts, formal peace talks with FARC are to open in Oslo in October 2012 and continue in Havana. They may be extended to the ELN. There seems a firmer willingness to reach an agreement, as the government realises military means alone cannot end the conflict and FARC appears to recognise that the armed struggle permits survival but little else. With no ceasefire in place, both sides must act with restraint on the battlefield to generate immediate humanitarian improvements. And they will need to balance the requirements of fast, discreet negotiations and those of representativeness and inclusion. The government and the guerrillas have the historic responsibility to strike a deal, but only strong social and political ownership of that deal can guarantee that it leads to the lasting peace that has been elusive for so long.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Government, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Armed Struggle, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Deeply entrenched connections between criminal and political actors are a major obstacle to conflict resolution in Colombia. Illegal armed groups seek to consolidate and expand their holds over local governments in the October 2011 governorship, mayoral, departmental assembly and municipal council elections. The national government appears more willing and better prepared than in the past to curb the influence of illegal actors on the elections, but the challenges remain huge. The high number of killed prospective candidates bodes ill for the campaign, suggesting that the decade-old trend of decreasing electoral violence could be reversed. There are substantial risks that a variety of additional means, including intimidation and illegal money, will be used to influence outcomes. The government must rigorously implement additional measures to protect candidates and shield the electoral process against criminal infiltration, corruption and fraud. Failure to mitigate these risks would mean in many places four more years of poor local governance, high levels of corruption and enduring violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Every half hour, a person is killed in Venezuela. The presence of organised crime combined with an enormous number of firearms in civilian hands and impunity, as well as police corruption and brutality, have entrenched violence in society. While such problems did not begin with President Hugo Chávez, his government has to account for its ambiguity towards various armed groups, its inability or unwillingness to tackle corruption and criminal complicity in parts of the security forces, its policy to arm civilians “in defence of the revolution”, and – last but not least – the president's own confrontational rhetoric. Positive steps such as constructive engagement with Colombia as well as some limited security reform do not compensate for these failures. While the prospect of presidential elections in 2012 could postpone social explosion, the deterioration of the president's health has added considerable uncertainty. In any event, the degree of polarisation and militarisation in society is likely to undermine the chances for either a non-violent continuation of the current regime or a peaceful transition to a post-Chávez era.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Corruption, Crime
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bloody eruption of Mexican-led cartels into Guatemala is the latest chapter in a vicious cycle of violence and institutional failure. Geography has placed the country - midway between Colombia and the U.S. - at one of the world's busiest intersections for illegal drugs. Cocaine (and now ingredients for synthetic drugs) flows in by air, land and sea and from there into Mexico en route to the U.S. Cool highlands are an ideal climate for poppy cultivation. Weapons, given lenient gun laws and a long history of arms smuggling, are plentiful. An impoverished, underemployed population is a ready source of recruits. The winner of November's presidential election will need to address endemic social and economic inequities while confronting the violence and corruption associated with drug trafficking. Decisive support from the international community is needed to assure these challenges do not overwhelm a democracy still recovering from decades of political violence and military rule.
  • Topic: Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 1996 peace accords formally ended Guatemala's civil war but failure to address the conflict's root causes and dismantle clandestine security apparatuses has weakened its institutions and opened the door to skyrocketing violent crime. Guatemala is one of the world's most dangerous countries, with some 6,500 murders in 2009, more than the average yearly killings during the civil war and roughly twice Mexico's homicide rate. Under heavy pressure at home, Mexican drug traffickers have moved into Guatemala to compete for control of Andean cocaine transiting to the U.S. The UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has brought hope by making some progress at getting a handle on high-level corruption. However, in June 2010 its Spanish director, Carlos Castresana, resigned saying the government had not kept its promise to support CICIG's work and reform the justice system. President Álvaro Colom needs to consolidate recent gains with institutional reform, anti-corruption measures, vetting mechanisms and a more inclusive political approach, including to indigenous peoples.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Crime
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Juan Manuel Santos, in office since 7 August 2010, has an opportunity to end Colombia's generations of armed conflict by building on but adjusting and substantially broadening the strategy followed for eight years by his predecessor. Alvaro Uribe's predominantly military approach–the “democratic security policy”–did produce important security gains, but Colombia remains plagued by new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) and other criminal actors. By concentrating mainly on fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), it neglected other sources of violence and, most importantly, failed to address underlying causes of the conflict. Santos, who was elected with the largest majority in history, should use his political capital to implement a more integrated conflict resolution strategy that advances institutional and structural reforms needed to address illegality and impunity, expand access to services and tackle issues of land and victims' rights.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Álvaro Uribe's eight-year military campaign against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken a heavy toll on Colombia's largest insurgent organisation. The government is now working to consolidate security gains by expanding state presence in several of the formerly most conflict-ridden regions. This strategy faces numerous challenges, not least because FARC's command and control structure has not collapsed. The insurgents are adapting to military pressure through guerrilla warfare tactics, aggressive recruitment among rural populations, broadened involvement in drug trafficking and alliances with other armed groups and drug trafficking organisations. Colombia's next president, Juan Manuel Santos, will take office on 7 August. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, his government must increase the country's law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups, including FARC. It also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights, reduce poverty and design the political/negotiations component of a successful conflict resolution strategy. Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organised violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Latin America's oldest guerrilla organisation, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is under severe stress. Close to seven years of the Uribe presidency have hurt the FARC's capability and morale. Several top commanders have been captured, killed in combat, murdered by their own men, or died of natural causes, as in the case of Manuel Marulanda, the FARC's historic leader. Thousands of foot soldiers have deserted, bringing the guerrillas' troop strength down by almost half, to perhaps 10,000 today. Still, under its new leader, Alfonso Cano, the FARC has shown renewed internal cohesion and continued capacity to adapt to changes in the security environment. The Uribe government remains wedded to its hardline military approach until the FARC has no option but to negotiate surrender, but this strategy is problematic. President Uribe should keep military pressure up but emphasise devising a political strategy capable of drawing a weakened but still largely intact FARC into peace talks. Priority should also be on strengthening rule of law, protecting human rights and increasing citizen security.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Colombia's efforts to resolve its half-century armed conflict and growing tensions with neighbours will be shaped by the decision on whether to change the constitution to enable President Álvaro Uribe to seek a second re-election in May 2010. This issue has dominated Colombian politics for over a year. Most appear to back a third term, seeing Uribe as the only politician with the credibility and capacity to maintain security gains and broaden economic well-being after August, when his mandate ends. His supporters believe he has demonstrated strong leadership in times of escalating regional tensions, especially with Venezuela and Ecuador. Others fear another change in the constitution and four more years of Uribe's rule will further weaken democratic judicial and legislative institutions and essential checks and balances. They warn that the process of enabling a second consecutive re-election has been plagued by irregularities and allegations of corruption and that a third term could result in continuation of a too narrow security strategy focused on elusive final military defeat of the insurgent FARC and ELN.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Over seven years, the government of President Álvaro Uribe has produced important security gains, but these have been accompanied by serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). Colombia is still not close to the end of its armed conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), paramilitary successors and new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) – all responsible for multiple atrocities against civilians – can survive with drug financing and, to a degree, due to the state's inability to extend its legitimate presence into many rural areas. To move toward lasting peace, the Uribe administration must not only maintain its security achievements but also urgently improve its security policy by addressing serious human rights issues and expanding the rule of law and national reach of the state's civilian institutions. Holding to account senior military involved in extrajudicial killings is a first step but insufficient to curb abuses. International cooperation should focus on supporting the fight to end impunity and protect basic rights.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Hugo Chávez's victory in the 15 February 2009 referendum, permitting indefinite re-election of all elected officials, marked an acceleration of his “Bolivarian revolution” and “socialism of the 21st century”. Chávez has since moved further away from the 1999 constitution, and his government has progressively abandoned core liberal democracy principles guaranteed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The executive has increased its power and provoked unrest internally by further politicising the armed forces and the oil sector, as well as exercising mounting influence over the electoral authorities, the legislative organs, the judiciary and other state entities. At the same time, Chávez's attempts to play a political role in other states in the region are producing discomfort abroad. The September 2010 legislative elections promise to further polarise an already seriously divided country, while unresolved social and mounting economic problems generate tensions that exacerbate the risk of political violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Almost six years of intense security operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by the administration of President Álvaro Uribe are beginning to produce tangible results. Government forces killed several important rebel field commanders in 2007 and two members of the central command in March 2008, including second-in-command Raúl Reyes, and have severely disrupted insurgent communications, prompting a loss of internal cohesion and decreasing illegal revenues. However, this progress has come at the cost of severely deteriorating relations with Ecuador and Venezuela and increased risk of political isolation after the controversial bombing raid on Reyes's camp inside Ecuador. Military gains can pay off only if combined with a political strategy that consistently pursues a swap of imprisoned insurgents for hostages in FARC captivity, reestablishes much needed working relations with neighbours along borders and strongly advances integrated rural development to consolidate security and broaden Colombia's international support.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Central America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Coca leaf and cocaine production in the Andean region appear to have set new records in 2007. Cocaine trafficking and use are expanding across the Americas and Europe. Despite the expenditure of great effort and resources, the counter-drug policies of the U.S., the European Union (EU) and its member states and Latin American governments have proved ineffective and, in part, counterproductive, severely jeopardising democracy and stability in Latin America. The international community must rigorously assess its errors and adopt new approaches, starting with reduced reliance on the measures of aerial spraying and military-type forced eradication on the supply side and greater priority for alternative development and effective law enforcement that expands the positive presence of the state. On the demand reduction side, it should aim to incarcerate traffickers and use best treatment and harm reduction methods to avoid revolving and costly jail sentences for chronic users.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The policies of a decade or more to stop the flow of cocaine from the Andean source countries, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, to the two largest consumer markets, the U.S. and Europe, have proved insufficient and ineffective. Cocaine availability and demand have essentially remained stable in the U.S. and have been increasing in Europe. Use in Latin American transit countries, in particular Argentina, Brazil and Chile, is on the rise. Flawed counter-drug polices also are causing considerable collateral damage in Latin America, undermining support for democratic governments in some countries, distorting governance and social priorities in others, causing all too frequent human rights violations and fuelling armed and/or social conflicts in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. A comprehensive shared policy reassessment and a new consensus on the balance between approaches emphasising law enforcement and approaches emphasising alternative development and harm reduction are urgently required.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Latin America, Chile, Peru, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Evo Morales's efforts to consolidate sweeping reforms on the basis of a controversial new constitution have steered Bolivia into a cul-de-sac. On 8 December 2007, his supporters in the Constituent Assembly (CA) provisionally passed the text by running roughshod over procedures and virtually excluding opposition delegates. Weak attempts to bridge the deepening divide have failed, increasing potential for a violent confrontation both sides still seem to wish to avoid. Openly defying Morales in May 2008, however, Santa Cruz massively approved the department's autonomy statutes by referendum. Two other eastern lowland departments followed suit, with the fourth expected to do so on 22 June. Morales is pushing for final adoption of the constitution by referendum and a popular vote of confidence. The Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and several European countries, and the Group of Friends (Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) should provide good offices to help the government and opposition reach urgent agreement on a revised constitution that can keep the country together.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In February 2004, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the major insurgent group, announced creation of a three-member negotiation commission and a "diplomatic offensive" aimed at obtaining the release of hundreds of its imprisoned members in exchange for about 60 military and political hostages it holds. This has raised hope among the relatives of hostages and kidnap victims that a "humanitarian exchange" could happen in the not too distant future.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than any of his predecessors, President Alvaro Uribe has made combating the insurgents the overriding priority and defining objective of the Colombian government. Through modest achievements on the ground a sense of public security has begun to be re-established. However, Uribe's "Democratic Security Policy" (DSP), the long-term strategy promised to lend coherence to the security effort, has been stalled for nearly a year by political infighting and fundamental arguments over how best to bring the 40-year conflict to a close. Without some serious modifications, it is doubtful that it will achieve its goal.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Eighteen months after the rupture of peace talks between its predecessor and the main insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Uribe administration has entered upon a high risk-high gain negotiating process with the main paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), that will test its skill and its good faith.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: This ICG report argues that it is paramount that much more decisive action be taken immediately to confront Colombia's humanitarian crisis. Massive human hardship and suffering has become a constant feature of life as the armed conflict has expanded and intensified. The government's humanitarian policy has encountered many difficulties, largely because of the magnitude of the crisis, the lack of state capacity, the reluctance to divert fiscal resources from military to social programs, and the wide gap between policy planning and reality.The launching of the Inter-agency Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) by the UN in 2002 reflects a growing international awareness that more coordinated and effective action is urgently needed. But even more needs to be done, including achieving better coordination between the government and humanitarian organisations and increasing current levels of international humanitarian aid.
  • Topic: Security, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Migration
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While the Colombian armed conflict has deep roots in history, increasingly it is fuelled by the inflow of weapons, explosives and chemical precursors and financed by an outflow of drugs. The tentacles of instability criss-cross the 9000 kilometres of land and water that separate Colombia from and link it to its five neighbours, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Panama. Those borders are largely uncontrolled, and the Colombian government has stepped up its demands for fuller regional cooperation. The neighbours are greatly reluctant, partly because of internal crises and partly because of their view of the conflict. Yet, Colombia needs more help from them to make progress in ending that conflict, while peace in Colombia would give them a better chance to solve their own serious domestic problems.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Colombia, South America, Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 10-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Alvaro Uribe was inaugurated President of Colombia on 7 August 2002 with a strong electoral mandate to fulfil his pledge to enhance the state's authority and guarantee security. In his inaugural address, Uribe promised to search for a negotiated solution to the long-standing armed confrontation with both insurgent groups, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as well as with the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). However, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Andrés Pastrana, he conditioned new negotiations on a ceasefire and complete suspension of hostilities.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 10 March 2002, little more than two weeks after the end of the peace process with the insurgent Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC), Colombians elected a new House of Representatives and Senate. Despite heightened apprehension among the electorate and the government about violent interference by the guerrilla and paramilitary organisations, the polls took place in an atmosphere of relative calm and good order. In part this was due to the large-scale deployment of military and police forces across the country to guarantee voter security.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: This presidential election (first round on 26 May 2002; second round, if needed, on 16 June) will be crucial for the future of Colombia's democracy and its struggle against insurgents and paramilitaries, drugs and widespread poverty. Social and economic distress is now widespread. Public frustration with the ill-fated peace process of the Pastrana Administration over the past three years, its definitive rupture on 20 February 2002, and increased attacks by the main rebel group, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia- Ejército del Pueblo (FARC) on civilians and infrastructure since mid-January have made “war/peace” and “violence” the key vote- determining issues. The failure to negotiate a solution to the longstanding civil war over the past three years has polarised the electorate.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In February 2002, negotiations to end the most dangerous confrontation of Colombia's decades of civil war collapsed. Nearly four years earlier, the newly-inaugurated President Andrés Pastrana had opened talks with the country's major remaining rebel groups, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC) and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), with great enthusiasm and hope. But the fighting never ended while the talks sputtered on, and the country now appears headed for a new round of violence in its cities and against its infrastructure. The international community is concerned about the implications not only for Colombia's people and its democratic institutions, but also wider regional stability.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America