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Colombia Public Policy

Current policy

Colombia has been governed since August 2018 by Iván Duque, who represents the right-wing Democratic Center (CD). Duque went to the election with a promise to tear down parts of the peace agreement that Representative Juan Manuel Santos made peace with the leftist guerrilla Farc two years earlier.

In November 2019, just over after Duque's accession, widespread protests against the government erupted, partly inspired by protest movements mainly in Chile and Ecuador. It began as a general strike but soon turned into more general protests against economic policy, unemployment, corruption and drug-funded violence. The protesters are also demanding that the peace agreement with Farc concluded in 2016 be adhered to, and that the government tries to prevent the deadly violence affecting indigenous peoples, social leaders and former guerrillas.

  • Countryaah: Country facts and history of Colombia, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.

In the 2018 election, Duque won the second round, with 54 percent of the votes against left-hander Gustavo Petro (see Calendar). Duque was considered hand-picked by CD's party leader Álvaro Uribe, Santo's representative and later bitter rival. Uribe has always been a sharp opponent of the peace process, and the CD has consistently opposed the implementation of the peace agreement in Congress. The party believes that the members of the now disbanded guerrillas have escaped too lightly and say they want to prioritize the victims of the conflict. Many now fear that the fragile peace is threatened if the government begins to change the terms in selected parts of the comprehensive agreement.

Gustavo Petro, former mayor of Bogotá and with a past in a long-winded guerrilla group, became a senator in accordance with the constitution (see Political system) and promised to fight to keep the peace agreement. But in the congressional elections held in March, the right-wing parties prevailed and CD became the largest party in the Senate.

Neither Santos nor Uribe were candidates in the presidential election, as the Constitution prevented them from running for office.

Public Policies of ColombiaProlonged conflict

Half a century of civil war has overshadowed all other political issues in Colombia. According to a government investigation, over 260,000 people were killed during the conflict (see Calendar). More than 80 percent of them were unarmed civilians. Colombians are generally war-weary, but at the same time the issue of disarmament of the left guerrillas is sensitive. The experience of the settlement with the right-wing militia AUC is mixed (see Modern history). The high militia was only partially disarmed, and many former members are now part of leagues devoted to cocaine trafficking and other crimes. The largest is the Gulf of Clan (Clan del Golfo), which is estimated to account for 70 percent of cocaine production in the country. The group has also been called Los Urabeńos, the Úsuga clan and the AGC (Autodefensas gaitanistas de Colombia); the current name is taken from the geographical residence at the Gulf of Urabá (Golfo de Urabá).

Most of Farc's members joined the peace agreement signed in the fall of 2016. They handed over their weapons to the authorities in 2017. But smaller groups have refused to participate and around 1,200 former guerrillas still engage in armed struggle, sometimes with ideological signs but often as purely criminal activity. The violence that has subsided dramatically in 2018 showed worrying signs of rising again.

Farc has previously also been deeply involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping to demand ransom and other lucrative criminal activity.

In principle, while the disarmament of Farc took place in 2017, formal peace negotiations also began with ELN, the second left-wing guerrilla that remained active in Colombia. The talks progressed at an uneven rate during Santo's time as president and stopped completely when Duque took over. Following an attack on a police school in Bogotá in January 2019 (see Calendar), chances are small that they will resume in the foreseeable future.

Difficult challenges

Although the peace agreement with Farc works to a large extent, major challenges remain to be realized in all its parts. Violence has decreased, the economy is growing and foreign investment is increasing. But the victims of the war must be compensated, justice shipped, rebels disarmed and millions of internal refugees returned. The conflict over land is central. Landowners who finance drug cartels and militias often control the best land. Many Farc members receive impunity despite thousands of kidnappings and murders. Many critics, and not least the military, demand that Farc be held accountable for his deeds in the same way that senior officers were convicted of abuse.

FACTS - POLITICS

Official name

Republic of Colombia / Republic of Colombia

GOVERNMENT

republic, unitary state

Head of State and Government

President Iván Duque (2018–)

Most important parties with mandates in the last election

Democratic Center 32/19, Liberal Party 35/14, Radical Change 30/16, U-Party 25/14, Conservative Party 21/14, Green Alliance 9/9, Polo 2/5, others 12/11 (2018) 1

Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections

U-Party 38/21, Liberal Party 39/17, Conservative Party 28/19, Democratic Center 19/19, Radical Change 16/9, Green Party 6/5, Citizen Alternative 6/5, Polo 3/5, others 11 / 2 (2014) 2

turnout

53% in the 2018 presidential election, 49% in the 2018 congressional election

Upcoming elections

presidential and congressional elections 2022

1st term in the House of Representatives / Senate; In addition to the elected mandate, another six mandates will be added to the
second mandate in the House of Representatives / Senate

2007

July

Mass demonstration in support of hostage

A total of more than one million Colombians demonstrate in various parts of Colombia to demand that Farc, right-wing militia and criminal gangs release the thousands of people they host as hostages.

June

Farc conductor released

Rodrigo Granda, who is considered Farc's foreign minister, is released and it is speculated that another 150 Farc prisoners will be released from prison. The hope is that the left-wing guerrilla will thus free people held hostage, including former French-Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The decision to release Granda comes after a personal appeal from France's newly-appointed President Nicolas Sarkozy.

March

Banana companies are convicted of AUC connection

American banana company Chiquita Brands admits in a federal US court that it has paid over $ 1.7 billion to AUC between 1997 and 2004. The company is fined $ 25 million.

2006

November

AUC investigation begins

A court is launching a preliminary investigation into contacts between high-ranking politicians and the right-wing militia umbrella organization AUC, which has just formally wound up following a peace settlement with the government in 2003.

May

Uribe wins the presidential election

March 28

President Álvaro Uribe is re-elected for a second term with 62 percent of the vote, against 22 percent for left-wing politician Carlos Gaviria and just under 12 percent for Liberian Horacio Serpa.

March

Government victory in congressional elections

the 12th of March

Together, the unrestricted parties receive 96 of the 166 seats in the House of Representatives and 61 of the 102 seats in the Senate.


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