Colombia

Peace Mail - 26 December 2019 - 1 January 2020

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According to Somos Defensores program, there were 110 leaders murdered this year. It's projected that it could reach 120 murders -if cases under investigation are confirmed-, that is, 35 less than last year. This information differs from the provided by the OHCHR, according to which between January 1st and December 16th of 2019, there were 90 murders of social leaders. Within the list, according to the program and the Attorney General's Office, paramilitary structures and dissidents are responsible for the main actions of violence. However, in many cases, the possible perpetrators of the criminal attacks are not known. For Diana Sánchez, coordinator of Somos Defensores program, it is crucial to understand the phenomenon behind these indicators. The presidential advisor for human rights, Francisco Barbosa, pointed out that the assassination of social leaders isn’t systematization, and that the reasons behind the crimes are diverse and tied to delinquency. On the other hand, for social organizations, the nature of the crimes is systemic and given by the victims' characteristics, not by those of the perpetrators.

Five of the ETCRs will be transferred. For the past few months, the Government and FARC have evaluated which of the 24 former Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation (ETCR), where former FARC and their families live, should continue to function. The decision to relocate depended on the acquisition of the land and its strategic location. "At present, five of them are going to move from their current location, taking into account that there were difficulties in buying the land," said Andrés Stapper, director of the Agency of Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN). As a result, the decision is to relocate the former spaces of Ituango (Antioquia), Puerto Asís (Putumayo), La Macarena (Meta), Tumaco (Nariño) and San José del Guaviare (Guaviare). The government estimates that this transition process could take approximately one year.

UN says at least 77 former FARC were killed in Colombia in 2019. According to a report by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on the progress of the Verification Mission. "The total number of killings since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement now stands at 173, in addition to 14 disappearances and 29 killing attempts," declares the document to be presented in the UN Security Council in January 2020. In the report, Guterres restates his call "for more effective measures to protect the lives of former combatants, especially given that 2019 has been the most violent year for former members of the FARC-EP”. The document also describes the advances in the economic, social and political reincorporation of FARC members in the last quarter of the year and dedicates a segment to security conditions of former combatants. Among these crimes, the murder of Alexander Parra Uribe, who was killed on 24 October in the former ETCR in Mesetas, Meta, stands out as particularly worrying.

The government published a draft decree regulating glyphosate spraying. On Monday 30th, the Ministry of Justice published the draft decree regulating aerial spraying against illicit crops, suspended in 2017. A suspension reiterated by the Constitutional Court last July. The Ministry reported that the draft was file for comments from the public and that the publication of the decree for comments does not imply an automatic reactivation of spraying activities. In the draft, the government formed a plan to be taken to moderate the impacts on health and the environment.

General Nicacio Martínez leaves the Army after 38 years of service. Duque said the departure of Martinez was for family reasons and made it official that Major General Eduardo Enrique Zapateiro will assume command of the Army. General Martínez, who spent more than a year as the head of the Army Command, has been questioned on several occasions, yet he has no open investigation. One of the latest controversies was about a mural in Bogotá. In it, his face appeared alongside other generals and accused them of ‘false positives’. However, members of the Army erased it. The officer also generated controversy because of an internal directive that, sought to double the goal of casualties and captures, and reduce the level of certainty needed to carry out military operations. Some sectors considered this as a policy that could favor the return of the extrajudicial executions, called 'false positives'.