Colombia (OpenDemocracy) – New concessions threaten the water supply to the capital city of Bogota. Information from Colombia’s National Hydrocarbons Agency shows that at least forty-three new fracking concessions have been handed out to multinational companies including Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and…
In contrast to 2015’s largely upbeat report on the state of LGBTQ equality worldwide, the news in 2016 was more somber. While there were significant advances, such as the advent of marriage equality in Colombia and the creation of senior LGBTQ watchdog positions at the United Nations and the World Bank, the disturbing persistence of violence targeting vulnerable LGBTQ people around the world was a continuing cause for serious concern. Growing political backlash against LGBTQ rights in Latin America and Southeast Asia, a resurgence in the activities of American exporters of hate and the stunning November victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections were other developments that could bode ill for global LGBTQ rights as we move into 2017.
2016 saw major legal momentum on achieving LGBTQ equal rights and protections. The number of countries that continue to criminalize consenting adult same-sex relations fell from 75 to 72. Three countries – Belize in Central America, Nauru in Oceania and Seychelles in East Africa – decriminalized same-sex acts in the span of just four months. The case of Belize was especially remarkable as noted activist Caleb Orozco fought in court for six years to overturn the country’s antiquated sodomy law. The march towards marriage equality continued in 2016, albeit at a slower rate than before. Colombia achieved marriage equality in April through a court decision, making it the twentieth country in the world with full marriage equality. Efforts continue elsewhere to achieve marriage equality, most notably in Australia, Chile and Taiwan. Transgender people also saw incremental progress in many parts of the world and a progressive gender identity law was enacted in Bolivia in September.
Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers is validated. Cross-movement collaboration on decriminalizing sex work is needed, now, more than ever.
In mid-November, I attended a RedTraSex meeting to review “Advances, challenges and strategies of the RedTraSex: strengthening sustainability and advancing the recognition of our rights.” RedTraSex is the Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinamérica y el Caribe (Network of Sex Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean.) RedTraSex, on the cusp of celebrating its 20th anniversary, is made up of organizations from fifteen countries – Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Dominican Republic.
Colombian authorities have signed a new peace accord with FARC rebels, after the previous agreement was rejected in a national referendum in October.
The new deal between the Colombian government and FARC rebels was stricken in Havana, Cuba on Saturday.
“We have reached a new final agreement to end the armed conflict, which includes changes, clarifications and input from a variety of walks of life, which we considered successively,” Cuban Ambassador to Colombia, Ivan Mora, said after the talks.
In a shock result, Colombians rejected a peace accord to end five decades of conflict. Does that mean a return to violence? Or can progressive forces build upon the innovations of the peace process? Tatiana Garavito takes stock.
The chief negotiator had been clear. If voters did not ratify the peace accord between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, then the country would be left staring into an ‘abyss’. There was no Plan B.
And on the night of 2 October it looked as if that abyss had opened up as the ‘no’ vote won by the narrowest of margins – 50.2 to 49.8 per cent.
Despite the deal reached between the Colombian government and the Marxist FARC guerrilla to lay down arms, there is a new cause of concern: what the several other criminal groups that operate in the country will do faced with such a power vacuum.
The famous rebel group has been responsible for a large number of killing, attacks, kidnappings, displacements, and other crimes in Colombia for the past five decades. But even if FARC surrenders, there is no shortage of armed groups that could continue this kind of violence.
In Colombia there are four prominent criminal organizations besides FARC that fight over the control of territories. Most, if not all of them, finance their activities through drug trafficking, and they all have a clear political ideology.
Flawed Justice Deal Risks Sustainable Peace
The agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas on August 24, 2016, to end their 52-year conflict is an unprecedented opportunity to curtail abuses in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. But it includes a serious defect that risks its unraveling: a flawed victims’ agreement reached in December 2015, that could guarantee impunity for those responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes.
Peace talks with guerrillas, which began in October 2012, involved partial agreements on five points in the agenda in addition to ending the conflict. They include political participation, victims’ rights, and drug policy. The government will hold a national plebiscite to approve the agreement in the coming weeks.
The Colombian government and FARC rebels have officially reached an historic peace deal, bringing an end to a 50-year war.
The accord, announced in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday, requires the Colombian government to carry out substantive land reform and overhaul its drug trafficking policies. It also requires Bogota to expand state services into rural sections of the country.
Negotiators Visited Rural Locations Where Demobilized Guerrilla Members Will Transition to Civilian Life
A charter flight took off from Havana, Cuba to Bogotá, Colombia this Monday, August 8, carrying 17 FARC guerillas who had taken part in the negotiations with the government.
They were on their way to visit, along with Colombian government officials and Norwegian arbiters, concentrated locations in which demobilized FARC members may live after the peace talks.
Additionally, United Nations officials reportedly negotiated overseeing the removal of weapons by FARC.
FARC’s Final Request Could Make or Break Peace Talks
A new requirement has been added to the peace agreement between the guerilla group FARC and the Colombian government.
FARC reportedly wants the release of 9,000 prisoners, that, if not agreed to, would end the peace process.
Guerrilla leader Carlos Antonio Lozada, who was in Colombia to visit the villages for FARC members after disarmament, confirmed the new request.
“If there’s no amnesty, there will be no final agreement, it is that simple,” he said. “If there is an amnesty law, there will be no final agreement and if there is no agreement there will be no mobilization of those zones.”
Between July 6 and July 15, 2016, nine people at the University of Tolima, Colombia — students, professors and staff members — organized a hunger strike to protest the serious administrative, financial, democratic, and leadership crisis occurring at this higher education institution, for which they held the Dean José Herman Muñoz Ñungo directly responsible.
The group initiated the strike after having exhausted all proper channels of negotiation. Among other things, their demands included the dean’s response to a list of 21 questions and his resignation. Not only was the dean reluctant to leave his position and respond to the questions, but the University Governing Board also kept silent, prolonging the hunger strike up to nine days.
The Drug Trade and the Illegal Economy Will Continue to Fuel Violence in Colombia
The announcement of a “historic” deal reached between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) caused euphoria as President Santos claimed it was the end to over 50 years of conflict. But it’s important to highlight four caveats.
Understanding the real scope and consequences of the peace process with FARC is particularly important because Colombians will have to vote in a referendum in order to approve the final deal.
Peace talks have become the big story to tell that things are going well when, in reality, the rights of the Colombian people, including the right to protest, are simply not respected.
Some were beaten. Others were stripped of their clothes and forced to endure the freezing cold. Many were robbed of their mobile phones and money. A human rights crisis is unfolding in Colombia and it remains largely unnoticed.
On 30 May, millions of Colombians took to the streets in protest to demand peace with justice and an end to the government’s model of ‘economic development’ that favours big business and the established land owning elite.
The demands were met with brutal violence. Three indigenous leaders were killed and hundreds more people injured during the two-week national strike.
Critics Claims Juan Manuel Santos Has Become Too Close with Guerrilla Leaders
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Thursday, June 16, that he possesses information confirming that FARC guerrilla members are preparing to renew hostilities should the ongoing peace talks with the government fail.
“How do I know we will be back to war? We have confirmed information that they’re prepared to go back to war, and specifically urban war, which is more demolishing than rural war. This is a reality, I know it, and this is why it’s so important that we reach an agreement,” the president warned Colombians.
Santos sent a call to the nation to unite forces to achieve the peace agreements.