25th November 2016
Political: After the Colombian people rejected an initial peace deal between the state and FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army), both sides went back to the negotiating table. During this new negotiating period, the ceasefire was extended to allow more time for negotiations to take place. There were fears that a new peace deal would not be agreed to as clashes between government troops and rebels on 16 November caused the deaths of two guerrillas. President Santos was also recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of the efforts undertaken by his government in search for peace. The accord agreed to by FARC and the government will now be sent with haste to the Colombian Congress, where it will be debated next week. If Congress approves this accord, FARC will have 150 days to pass its arms and assets onto a United Nations Monitoring group. The money will be used for reparations for FARC victims. A limit of ten years has been placed on the transitional justice system and the deal will not alter Colombia’s constitution. The rebel group will also be expected to pass on information about their drug-trafficking links.
President Santos has claimed that this new peace deal goes some way to addressing the qualms held by ‘no’ voters in the previous referendum. The decision to put the peace deal to Congress rather than the people means the deal will have a better chance of being passed and not be hijacked by opponents of peace. Indeed, many international observers have criticised the hawkish former President Álvaro Uribe, a staunch critic of peace and leader of the ‘no’ campaign during the referendum, of commandeering the vote for his own personal, political gain. The deal looks set to be passed by Congress where President Santos and his allies hold a strong majority. Former President Uribe’s Democratic Centre Party have already claimed that they will not back a deal but they only hold 15% of the seats in Congress.
|Intrinsic Security Advice:|
|Risk Ratings:||Colombia: Moderate||Political: Moderate|
|Colombia is on the right track to peace. Travellers to Colombia should note that just becasuse FARC has laid down its arms, does not mean it will not pick them up again either as FARC or another group. Moreover, the ELN (National Liberation Army), another armed group, are still active in Colombia (but have also announced they are committed to peace). Kidnapping and other violent acts are still a distinct possibility in more remote areas such as the Panama border region. Non-rebel based crimes are still a common occurrence in Colombia. Violent and non-violent crime is still prevalent in major cities such as Bogota and Medellin. The termination of FARC (if it occurs) may have either a positive or negative impact on regional peace. There is a possibility that it will create a power vacuum in the drug-producing regions, allowing cartels to step in the gaps left by FARC. Alternatively, this peace deal may act as the beginning of long-term peace for Colombia. Intrinsic would advise clients to employ enhanced security measures when visiting Colombia – airport meet and greet and a security driver for the length of a visit should be adequate security measures for most areas. Further security provisions may be required when travelling to certain areas.|