Three major advances were made over the last week in the peace talks that have been moving forward in Cuba for nearly two years between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, while the decades-old civil war rages on.
Colombians will basically decide Sunday whether to continue the five decade counterinsurgency war or persevere in the attempt to negotiate a political solution to the conflict, in order to allow the children being born this year to experience what their parents have never known: a country at peace.
In July 2004, when paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso was demobilising, he admitted to the Colombian parliament that the illegal extreme rightwing forces controlled 35 percent of the seats. Ten years later the situation is very similar: one-third of the new senate, where congressional power mainly resides, is allegedly linked to the paramilitaries.
The ousted left-wing mayor of the Colombian capital, Gustavo Petro, is a casualty of the battle over the introduction of a Zero Garbage programme, which had included thousands of informal recyclers in the waste disposal business.
The rural community of Las Pavas in northern Colombia received this year’s National Peace Prize Wednesday in recognition of its peaceful struggle for land that is claimed by an oil palm company, in a case that became an international symbol of the conflict over land in this country.
A new system of tunnels at the Alto de La Línea mountain pass in Colombia’s central Cordillera mountain range will open up a key logistics route for this country and neighbouring Venezuela. But it could be overcome by disaster if the Machín volcano erupts.
A strike declared nearly two weeks ago in Colombia by farmers and joined later by truck drivers, health workers, miners and students spread to include protests in the cities before mushrooming into a general strike Thursday, demanding changes in the government’s economic policies.
Colombia’s FARC guerrillas announced Friday a “pause” in the peace talks in Havana, which formally opened a year ago. But analysts say it is only a temporary glitch.
"There is no development without peace. It should be understood that, for there to be development in a country, there must be an internal peace process,” says Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“I was a hunter. I killed many animals,” said Rosalino Ortiz, a representative of Mashiramo, a campesino organisation that monitors biodiversity in Colombia’s Massif range in the southern department of Huila.
People in a farming town in central Colombia voted overwhelmingly against global corporation AngloGold Ashanti’s La Colosa gold mine.
The Colombian army killed Marta Díaz’s son Douglas in 2006, dressed him in combat fatigues and reported him as a FARC guerrilla killed in a shootout. Díaz searched for him everywhere, in prisons, hospitals and morgues, until she finally managed to track down his remains in 2008.
Along the unpaved road between the town of Orocué and the Wisirare private reserve in the eastern Colombian department of Casanare, biologist Juliana Cárdenas asks the driver to stop the bus so she can collect a specimen of West Indian foxtail, a kind of grass growing along the road.
José "Goyo" Hernández has never been given a mask to keep him from breathing in the coal dust blowing off the 13 trains that pass daily through this village in the municipality of Zona Bananera in the northern Colombian department of Magdalena, during his 12-hour shift at the railway crossing.
Colombian government and guerrilla delegates have announced an agreement on the question of land reform – an important step in the peace talks that began six months ago in Havana.