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.
A U.S. embassy announcement that a military training unit will be coming to Colombia generates much controversy. A team from the U.S. Army’s 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, a recently created unit whose sole mission is training other security forces, is to send 53 trainers at the beginning of June to several conflictive sites around the country designated as “Zonas Futuro,” where they will remain for four months. U.S. Southern Command states that the unit “will focus on logistics, services and intelligence capabilities directly supporting U.S.-Colombia counter-narcotics collaboration and information sharing.” A statement from the FARC political party calls the deployment part of the U.S. strategy to pressure the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Colombia’s National Police announces that it measured 1,321 homicides during the pandemic quarantine period of March 20-May 20, a 34 percent drop from the 2,012 homicide cases measured between those dates in 2019.
In a video, maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño voices discomfort with the party’s name, saying it sends “a pretty complicated message, which even generates distance when one tries to talk to people.” Changing the name, though, would require a decision of an assembly of the party’s membership.
The FARC formally requests protective measures from the OAS Inter-American Human Rights Commission, citing attacks on former guerrillas around the country, with a death toll approaching 200. “We want to avoid a genocide,” says FARC representative Diego Martínez.
A Defense Ministry resolution fires another nine Army officers. Though no motive is named, press coverage notes that the firings come after revelations of intelligence abuse and corruption earlier in the month.
A statement from the Gulf Clan neo-paramilitary group rejects the government’s decree offering favorable terms for those who demobilize, denying that any commander has been in contact with the government.
Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía) issues arrest warrants for 10 mayors, alleging corruption in COVID-19-related contracting. The Comptroller’s office announces that it has detected US$110 million in likely contracting cost overruns, mainly for medical equipment, food, and related coronavirus services.
Citing information from the Prosecutor-General’s Office (Fiscalía), Interior Minister Alicia Arango claims that between Januay 1 and May 15, 2020, only 25 social leaders had been killed in Colombia, a drop from 41 during the same period of 2018 and 46 during the same period of 2019. The 25 is the number of “verified” cases; Arango does not state how many 2020 homicides remain to be verified.
Following an online meeting with Cauca indigenous leaders, Interior Ministry officials unintentionally leave their microphones on. “How about those motherf******s, I don’t give an a** about them at this moment,” one can be heard saying. “They’re never going to change and they’re going to be miserable and stupid their whole lives. …I hate those sons of b*****s.”
The Interior Ministry names 30-year-old Jorge Tovar, son of top ex-paramilitary leader “Jorge 40,” to coordinate its Internal Coordination Group for Armed Conflict Victims Policy. Though Tovar is not accused of any of his father’s crimes and has participated in reconciliation efforts, the nomination is highly controversial. In past tweets, Tovar has called his father—currently imprisoned in the United States on drug charges—a “political prisoner” and a “hero,” and has attacked leftist politicians. The Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) strongly opposes the nomination, as do Colombia’s national platforms of human rights groups.
On May 20, maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño angers many within his party by defending the Interior Ministry’s hiring of Tovar. Londoño calls Tovar “a person who seems committed to supporting peace and reconciliation processes.”