"The coca-crop substitution program is one of the most complex aspects of the peace agreement that is aimed at putting an end to the country’s 53-year armed conflict, and it has already become the flashpoint of a recent wave of violence by state security forces participating in eradication effort as they confront the coca farmers, particularly in the southern department of Nariño. As an armed group, the FARC had maintained considerable territorial control for many years in several regions of the country, serving as the de-facto state in coca-growing territory. Mario Murillo, NACLA
Washington, DC — On October 5, rural farmers gathered in Tumaco, Nariño department to protest forced eradication of coca crops by the security forces, with crowd size estimates ranging from 200 to more than a thousand. These farmers protested because the government refused to address local conflicts that affect how to best to implement the national crop substitution program (Programa Nacional de Sustitución de Cultivos, PNIS). Rather than address these communities’ concerns so that an effective crop substitution program be implemented, the security forces fired indiscriminately on the protestors, resulting in at least eight reported murders and over fifty wounded. The security forces claim that they were responding to an attack initiated by FARC dissidents. However, reports and witness testimony provided to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) from those on the ground indicate that this was not the case. WOLA calls on the U.S. government to immediately condemn this massacre and urges Colombian authorities to investigate and sanction those responsible for these abuses. Full WOLA Statement.
According to Colombia’s authorities, dissident FARC guerrillas launched mortars into a crowd of police and citizens, but locals and human rights organizations claim police opened fire on coca growers in a clash Thursday that left at least eight farmers dead. [...] The National Police reported no injured civilians or security forces. Local groups say only civilians were killed or injured in the outbreak of violence. Some reports speak of more than 50 injured protesters. French press agency AFP reported that both locals and human rights defenders say police opened fire on the coca farmers who were protesting police efforts to forcibly eradicate coca, the base in ingredient of cocaine. Atticus Ballesteros, Colombia Reports
Colombia’s security forces have had at least twenty-one major clashes with coca farmers amid claims the government is breaking agreements made in a crop substitution program. The clashes threaten the credibility of the United Nations-supported counter-narcotics strategy that seeks to drastically reduce coca cultivation through the voluntary substitution of coca plants, the base ingredient of cocaine, for legal plants such as cocoa, coffee, or banana. Atticus Ballesteros, Colombia Reports.
Authorities in Colombia have filtered out more than two dozen drug capos attempting to pass themselves off as FARC guerrillas in order to take advantage of judicial benefits offered to demobilizing rebels under the terms of a 2016 peace agreement. The incident is another sign of the obstacles the country's thriving drug trade poses to the peace process. Tristán Clavel. InsightCrime
With shots fired in the air and grenades, a human rights mission that included a journalist from El Espectador and Colombia2020 was attacked as it attempted to reach the area where six peasants were killed last Thursday in circumstances involving the Police. El Espectador
The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia - ONIC - regrets and denounces the massacre in the jungles of Tumaco - Nariño, where Awá People, Afro brothers and Campesinos were the direct victims of the armed conflict that's growing stronger in times of peace. We blame the government of President Santos for this massacre that stems from the breach of its commitment to guarantee and respect the processes of voluntary eradication as established in the National Comprehensive Program for Substitution of Cultivation of Illicit Use - PNIS, within the framework of the implementation of the Final Agreement of Havana, points 4.1 and 6.1.10, section a, of the Final Agreement. Statement from ONIC
BOGOTÁ -- The US Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker said that FARC has not complied with the obligations from the peace agreement they signed last November with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. "What does the agreement say? It says that FARC needs to give information about drug trafficking so that investigations can take place and let the judicial process follow-up and this has not happened," said the diplomat in an interview published Sunday by Bogota's daily El Tiempo. According to Whitaker, the main political problem FARC faces is that "the people have no trust in them". El Nuevo Herald
Mr Cundalatin and the other 120 families who live in the region of La Esmeralda and work on its 20 coca plantations are living with uncertainty as Farc, the country’s largest rebel group, evolves from armed warfare to peaceful politics. A truce, signed in December, promises them peace, but it may also strip them of their livelihood. “The peace process is like a new life for us,” says Mr Cundalatin. Wil Crisp, The Times (Paywall)
In 2012, U.S. cocaine consumption and the size of the illegal coca crop in Colombia were near a low point, and much of the praise in Washington went to those responsible for designing and implementing Plan Colombia. Among them was [William R.] Brownfield, who served as U.S. ambassador in Bogota from 2007 to 2010. Since then, Colombian farmers have been stuffing their fields with record amounts of illegal coca, coerced by trafficking groups or to qualify for cash handouts offered under crop-substitution programs linked to the government’s peace deal with leftist guerrillas. Colombia’s cocaine production ballooned to 710 metric tons last year, according to U.S. estimates, up from 235 metric tons in 2013. [...] The cocaine surge is fraying the U.S.-Colombia partnership that Brownfield worked so long to help build. Last week, Trump took the extraordinary step of threatening to blacklist Colombia as a nation that has “failed demonstrably” to meet its commitments as a partner in the drug war. “For the past year, in our private discussions, both Colombia and the United States have emphasized the importance of drugs not becoming a negative element in the bilateral relationship between two friends,” Brownfield said. The president’s statement, he added, “reemphasizes that importance.” The Washington Post