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Colombia: A History of Violence
Transcript of Colombia: A History of Violence
Over 100,000 people die in the fight between the two ruling political parties.
1903: separation of Panama
The United States encourages the department of Panama to separate from Colombia to form a nation. This allows the U.S. to take over creation of the Panama Canal and Canal Zone for the next 100 years.
Colombian Communist Party (PCC)
Between the 1930s and 1960s the PCC gains tens of thousands of members. Via strikes, protests, seizures of land, and organized communist-controlled "self-defense communities" in southern Colombia, members are able to resist state military forces, while providing for the subsistence needs of the populace.
1946-1948: tensions between Liberals and Conservatives rise
This is thought to be the beginning of the current armed conflict in Colombia, now in its sixth decade.
1948-1958 La Violencia - The Violence
Gaitan's murder provokes a 10-year period of extreme violence. Up to 300,000 die, up to 800,000 are injured and up to 1 million are displaced.
1932-1933 Colombia-Peru war
The war takes place in the Amazon jungle.
Some 200 Colombians die due to the border dispute.
Colombia: A History of Violence
April 9, 1948: The Bogotazo
Five thousand people die during 10 hours of rioting and violence in Bogota, sparked by the murder of the Liberal Party president, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan.
1958: La Violencia ends
An agreement is reached between the Liberals and Conservatives to form a National Front. They agree to share power, with each party governing for a four-year period sharing government roles.
The bipartisan National Front government implements an aggressive plan of economic development, which includes changing land distribution to create huge ranches. Some 400,000 rural families are displaced and the majority move to cities. This pushes labor costs down, increasing profits for business owners.
The paramilitaries arose from large landowners’ private armies and security forces, who took over large areas of the country where the government was weak, operating like an organized crime gang, influencing civilian and political life. They serve a right-wing agenda, opposing threats to profit, including peace with the FARC. It is estimated that paramilitaries, sanctioned by successive governments, have committed most of the violence during Colombia's internal conflict.
The PCC declares the independent "Republic of Marquetalia"
The Republic of Marquetalia destroyed
The U.S.-backed Plan LASO sent thousands of Colombian army soldiers to take on the few dozen armed rebels there, retaking control of the area.
The surviving fighters went on to form the
FARC (see side)
FARC AND ELN
The guerrilla groups the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are founded in the mid-1960s.
Both are left-wing Marxist groups, who believe an armed struggle is the only way to achieve freedom from an increasingly repressive government and regain control of stolen land.
After years of fighting in rural areas, the
holds its Seventh Guerrilla Conference, where a change of strategy, moving toward better training and control of small towns is called for.
1984: First cease-fire attempt
President Belisario Betancur began a tentative armistice between the
and government troops.
It lasts until 1987.
In 1985, the FARC joins forces with other leftists movements to create the Patriotic Union in a move toward political legitimacy and integration. The party performs better at elections than expected.
Over the next few years large landowners via
PARAMILITARIES (see side)
kill up to 6,000 members of the party, including its leader, annihilating it. By 1990 all center left or leftist presidential candidates have been murdered.
Violence increases: on average seven people are killed in the conflict every day, with paramilitaries responsible for over half of the human rights violations.
becomes infamous worldwide due to: increasing links to Ireland's guerrillas the IRA; with drug trafficking; and high-profile kidnappings.
In 1999 the
killing of three U.S.-based activists increased U.S. pressure on the Colombian government to crack down on the guerrillas.
A peace process under President Andres Pastrana fails, due to a failure to comply to key demands from both sides. The
groups are increasing.
For more on the
Communist Party of Colombia (PCC)
, see side.
2002-2007: PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE
President Uribe, whose father was killed by
guerrillas, swore to destroy the rebel group. He also apparently made steps to demobilize the
Since his presidency ended, multiple links between him and the informal right-wing armies have been discovered.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he does not consider the
a terrorist group, but urges it to disarm.
Current peace process
The current peace process begins under the government of Juan Manuel Santos. His government acknowledges the war as an internal armed conflict, rather than a terrorist onslaught.
This change in approach toward the
allows the peace process to continue.
groups still operate with relative impunity.
Uribe publicly criticizes Santos for his attempt to broker peace. Many have attempted to derail the peace process, but after a rocky end to 2014, both Santos and
representatives say they are determined to overlook detractors and discard false rumors.
The armed conflict by now has affected almost 7 million people, but this peace process is over two years old and the government and the
have already made provisional agreements on key points. Many hope this will be the year for peace. The government are also entering preliminary talks with the
ELN (see side)
to move toward peace.