A survey of how illegal armed groups are imposing rules and enforcing quarantines during the COVID-19 crisis.
A summary of findings, from the Ombudsman’s Office’s early warning system, about the dire situation in Puerto López, Puerto Gaitán, and Cabuyaro.
We’ve added a fifth resource to this site’s page of “Explainer” documents: a graphics-heavy overview of the growing network of FARC “dissident” groups around the country. These are armed groups founded by, and mostly comprised of, fighters who either rejected the 2016 peace accord outright, or demobilized in 2017 only to take up arms again. The Explainer covers the groups’ origins and estimated size, their illicit revenue streams, their poor human rights record, the two main national dissident confederations, and some regions in which dissidents are embroiled in violent territorial disputes.
A look at how the COVID-19 emergency is affecting the security situation and armed groups’ control measures in rural areas of Nariño, Cauca, Antioquia, and Córdoba.
Video accompanying a Semana article about guerrilla dissidents’ expulsion of all park rangers from a wilderness area in and around eastern Caquetá department; content is mainly an interview with Rodrigo Botero, director of the Fundación Conservación y Desarrollo.
A team of reporters profiles demobilized FARC guerrillas who have been resisting “dissident” groups’ calls on them to re-arm. Accompanied by a podcast episode.
- Fighting between the Gulf Clan and dissidents from the FARC’s 18th Front displaces 863 people in the rural zone of Ituango, Antioquia, which lies on a strategic trafficking route. Some say they were given ten minutes to leave their homes on pain of death.
- Intelligence sources tell El Colombiano that the displacement is a tactic that armed groups use when they are in a position of weakness. “The people in the 18th Front residual group are surrounded by Gulf Clan personnel. So they pressure the communities to displace the that automatically obligates the Army to mobilize its troops, avoiding the other group’s advance.
- Earlier in the month, the entire remaining population of the Santa Lucía FARC demobilization site (ETCR) in Ituango—62 former fighters and 45 relatives—decided to abandon the site within 60 days due to threats. Twelve former FARC members have been killed in Ituango, more than any other municipality. Departmental and national government agencies are discussing options with the ETCR’s residents.
- The Army’s 7th Division reports on January 30 that it had learned of a plot by FARC dissident groups to assassinate ex-guerrillas living at the Santa Lucía facility.
- Alarm grows over environmental damage wrought by armed groups. FARC dissidents are believed responsible for a fire in La Macarena National Park, near the popular Caño Cristales tourist destination.
- FARC dissidents, some from the “Carolina Ramírez Front,” threaten park rangers in Chiribiquete National Park in Caquetá, ordering them to leave. Similar threats occur in as many as nine other parks. More than 9 million hectares of parks in Colombia’s Amazon basin region lack official presence.
- Security forces believe the dissidents intend to expand coca cultivation in the parks. They contend that the groups’ actions are a response to “Operation Artemis,” a military operation that aims to curtail deforestation.
- A Bogotá judge sends to preventive detention six people with alleged ties to FARC dissident groups, who stand accused of infiltrating Colombia’s massive November 21 protests and committing acts of violence and vandalism. They are allegedly tied to the dissident organizations of Gentil Duarte in Guaviare and “Jerónimo” in Arauca.
The 18th Front FARC dissident group and the Gulf Clan paramilitaries are increasing their presence in the historically conflictive municipality of Ituango, Antioquia, where demobilized FARC members are especially vulnerable.
Semana looks at internal divisions, defections, and disagreements in the FARC political party.
Abuses including murder, forced labor, child recruitment, and rape are often committed as part of the groups’ strategy to control the social, political, and economic life of Arauca and Apure. Impunity for such abuses is the rule.
- More than 10 days of fighting between FARC dissident factions and paramilitaries displaces over 3,000 people in Tumaco, Nariño. The dissident factions are the Oliver Sinisterra Front and the Comandante Alfonso Cano Western Bloc, the paramilitary group is called “Los Contadores” (“The Bookkeepers”).
- National Police Chief Gen. Óscar Atehortua claims that his forces foiled a plot by two former FARC combatants to assassinate maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño. Police killed the two alleged assailants in Quindío department, apparently in self-defense, near where Londoño was vacationing. Gen. Atehortua, Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, and National Protection Unit Director Pablo Elías González visited Londoño to tell him about the operation. They cited information that the two would-be assailants may have been sent by the FARC dissident faction led by former top leader and negotiator Iván Márquez.
- “I’m here talking to you thanks to the Police and Army of Colombia, who were always guarding my life and frustrated the assassination,” Londoño tells a Quindío newspaper.
- A top member of that faction, Henry Castellanos alias “Romaña,” denies on his Facebook page that the Márquez faction had anything to do with a plot against Londoño.
- Security analyst León Valencia tells El Tiempo, “I believe there is much resentment, and one can see it, within the FARC, but I find it hard to believe the the first one they would confront would be Timochenko [Londoño].”
- The girlfriend of one of the dead alleged hitmen cast doubt on the official story by sharing with prosecutors a WhatsApp message from him, minutes before he died, reading “My love, I’ll write you back, the Police just arrived.”