Assassins kill indigenous leader Luz Miriam Vargas Castaño at the Avirama reserve in Paez, Cauca. She is the third social leader killed in a 48-hour period in Colombia. Gunmen kidnapped and killed the indigenous governor of Agua Clara, Bajo Baudó, Chocó, and kill social leader Yoanny Yeffer Vanegas Cardona in San José del Guaviare, Guaviare.
Embera indigenous community leaders in Pueblo Rico, Risaralda, denounce that a group of soldiers raped a 12-year-old girl. The Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalia) reports that seven soldiers have pleaded guilty, but 25 more “may have had knowledge of this act.” President Duque promises, “We will get to the bottom of the investigations, and if we have to inaugurate the use of life sentences with them, we will do so.” An Army spokesperson says that the institution will not be providing defense lawyers for the accused.
Ultra-conservative ruling party Senator María Fernanda Cabal, known for her incendiary statements and for being the wife of the president of Colombia’s cattlemen’s federation, tweets that the rape allegation might be a “judicial false positive” instigated by those who wish to defame the armed forces.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Colombia’s National Police release their estimates of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia in 2019. The report finds a 9 percent reduction in coca-growing from 2018 to 2019, from 169,000 hectares to 154,000 hectares, but a 1.9 percent increase in cocaine production, to an estimated 1,137 metric tons of pure cocaine. Coca cultivation decreases most in Caquetá, Antioquia, Nariño, Bolívar, and Putumayo, while increasing in Norte de Santander and Valle del Cauca.
The Kroc Institute of Notre Dame University, which the peace accord gives a formal role in verifying compliance with accord commitments, releases its latest report, covering December 2018 to November 2019. Of 578 different commitments laid out in the accord, Kroc finds that the parties have fulfilled 25 percent completely, 15 percent are on pace for completion, and 36 percent have undergone “minimal” compliance, while work has yet to begin on 24 percent of commitments.
“The report emphasizes that implementation in Colombia is at a crucial point, transitioning from a focus on short-term efforts to medium- and long-term priorities, as well as focusing more on the provisions with a territorial focus.”
Carlos Lehder, a top leader of the Medellín cartel in the 1980s who pioneered aerial cocaine transshipment to the United States, completes a lengthy sentence in U.S. prison. A dual citizen of Germany, the 70-year-old Lehder departs for Berlin.
The FARC party reports that Mario Téllez Restrepo, shot to death on June 14 in Tibú, Norte de Santander, is the 200th former guerrilla to be killed since the peace accord went into effect in December 2016.
Armed men massacre four people and wound two others in Samaniego, Nariño, a zone of longtime ELN influence. The National Police reportedly hypothesize that the massacre was a dispute over narcotrafficking. One of those wounded was arrested in April 2019 and charged by the Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) of ELN affiliation; the charges were later dropped.
The daily El Espectador reveals the existence of “Code Black,” a corruption network within the U.S.-funded Antinarcotics Directorate of Colombia’s National Police. Starting in 2017, police whistleblowers began denouncing embezzlement and a scheme to use wiretaps to shake down narcotraffickers for money. The Prosecutor-General’s Office’s (Fiscalía’s) investigation has since moved very slowly.
The ELN releases four civilian hostages to a commission from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoría), and the Catholic Church in rural Norte de Santander. The release comes two days after the guerrillas turn over two oil workers in Arauca. Colombia’s government claims that the ELN continues to hold 10 other hostages. Among them is Nubia Alejandra López Correa, an Army corporal abducted in Arauca on June 7.
Colombia’s Free Press Federation (FLIP) learns that 14 more journalists were among the 130 civilians for whom military intelligence had been maintaining detailed profiles, part of a scandal known as the “Secret Folders” that broke in early May. That pushes to 52 the known number of profiled civilians who work as journalists.
The Bogotá-based think tank CERAC, which maintains a database of conflict events, finds no significant increase in offensive armed actions committed by the ELN since the end of the group’s April unilateral ceasefire. “Since March there is no registry of the death of civilians or security force members in violent events attributed to the ELN,” CERAC reports. However, the guerrilla group commits several kidnappings during this period.
Colombia’s Senate holds a debate over the presence in the country of a 53-person U.S. training brigade (Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB). The debate is called by opposition senators, who allege that the deployment violates Colombia’s constitution, which requires Senate approval for the transit of troops through national territory. Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, in an hourlong statement, insists that the U.S. personnel are not “transiting through” on their four-month deployment, but are collaborating to fight narcotrafficking. Ruling-party Senator and former president Álvaro Uribe leads the bloc of senators defending the U.S. troop deployment. Opposition legislators voice strong concern that the U.S. deployment could be a step toward Colombian involvement in a conflict with Venezuela.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) arrests social leader Yolanda González García in Arauca, accusing her of working with FARC dissidents. Soldiers wounded González, and killed her government-funded bodyguard, at a vehicle checkpoint on September 19, 2019, in an incident that remains under investigation. In a statement, Colombia’s national human rights platforms call González’s arrest a “setup” and an effort “to destroy her physically and morally.”
The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation denounces seven arrests of social leaders or demobilized combatants in Arauca in recent days, “for which they have been charged with a series of crimes without corroborating the facts.”
Local leaders in Monterredondo, Miranda, Cauca, advise FARC ex-combatants at the local reincorporation site that they should displace because of threats received from an unidentified armed group. On June 10, threats force the displacement of 20 ex-combatants from El Diamante, La Uribe, Meta.
Two relatives of FARC excombatants, aged 15 and 17, are murdered on a rural road in Ituango, Antioquia. The FARC reintegration site in Ituango is so threatened by paramilitaries and FARC dissidents disputing Ituango—a town strategically located along a major drug trafficking route—that its members have asked to displace the entire community elsewhere.
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry issues a statement denying that it lobbied the U.S. government to include Cuba on its list of states not sufficiently cooperating against terrorism, which it did on May 13. The U.S. listing cites Cuba’s refusal to extradite ELN negotiators stranded in Havana since talks ended in January 2019, which would have violated the parties’ signed protocols for an eventual breakdown in talks. The Colombian government’s high commissioner for peace, Miguel Ceballos, angered the Cuban government at the time by publicly celebrating the U.S. move as a “huge support” for Colombia.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) orders the detention of the governor of Antioquia, Aníbal Gaviria, on charges of an irregularity in the changing of a road-building contract during an earlier term.
Coca-growing farmers confront a forced eradication operation, begun on May 26 and carried out by the military’s Omega Joint Task Force, Narcotics Police, and Police Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) personnel in Tercer Milenio, Vistahermosa municipality, Meta. The security forces wound at least six farmers, some of them seriously. An Army statement alleges that the farmers were obligated to resist by FARC dissidents (“Gentil Duarte’s” group). The National Coordinator of Cultivators (COCCAM) contends that campesinos in this community had repeatedly voiced their desire to substitute their crops voluntarily.
The non-governmental organization Somos Defensores counts 47 social leaders and human rights defenders murdered during the first three months of 2020, an 88 percent increase over the 25 murders during the first three months of 2019.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) rejects former top paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso’s petition to participate in the FARC peace accords’ transitional justice system as a “third party.” As a paramilitary leader, Mancuso—who was extradited to the United States in 2008 and imprisoned for drug trafficking, but who completed his sentence in early 2020—falls within the “Justice and Peace” transitional justice system set up for the paramilitaries’ post-2006 demobilization. The JEP denies that Mancuso, one of the most senior leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), could possibly have qualified as an outside supporter of paramilitaries during the pre-AUC era (late 1980s and early 1990s).
The Organization of Mothers of False Positives of Soacha and Bogotá, MAFAPO, announces that it is pulling out of joint activities with the government’s Center for Historical Memory. The organization cites the attitude of the director named by the Duque government in 2019, Darío Acevedo, who in the past denied the existence of an armed conflict in Colombia.
As fallout continues over a scandal involving military intelligence abuses, Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo announces new measures: the creation of new inspectors to supervise military intelligence and counter-intelligence units, new standards for personnel entering intelligence units; and stronger mechanisms for receiving complaints of wrongdoing.
The president of the State Council, the Supreme Court chamber that deals with administrative issues, sends a letter to President Duque requesting an explanation of the deployment, announced May 28, of a 53-person U.S. military Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB). Magistrate Álvaro Namén notes that Colombia’s constitution requires the State Council to be consulted about the transit of foreign troops through national territory.
In a special hearing, Maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño asks the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to grant protective measures (medidas cautelares) to former guerrillas, nearly 200 of whom have been killed since the peace accord’s signature. Londoño says that 40 percent of those killed have been ex-guerrillas who were released from prison upon demobilizing; 39 more have suffered assassination attempts; and 177 have received threats since 2017. He adds that the Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) has only “clarified” (identified the responsible actor) in 11.4 percent of cases.