Colombian Armed Conflict: Arms For Peace

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The land of magical realism, where realism breaks a Colombian’s heart and makes their eyes weep, has seen more than 220,00 dead and close to 6 million people displaced over the past few decades.

How and why you might ask? Human beings seek to define phenomena through language. They look for a word to describe an event. What happened in Colombia over the last 50 years? Clearly it was a war, but what kind of war? A civil war? An armed conflict? An unconventional war?

For me, the event of the last fifty years or so can be characterized as a series of violence, with a plurality of processes, which cannot be classified in binary terms. It’s something for which words are neither apt nor can reach an accurate description. Violence in Colombia is a component of a different Violence, which intertwines with another Violence. It is an accumulation of guerrilla warfare, of unconventional warfare, of irregular warfare, of terrorist wars, paramilitary wars, drug wars; fought with and through ideological armies, non-ideological armies, semi-ideological armies, mercenaries, proxies, criminals, foreign states, professional armies, state armies, private armies, capitalists, socialists, communists. It transcends space; it transcends the territory of Colombia, its players make incursions into Venezuela and Ecuador, back into Colombia, and with tools and resources like Plan Colombia and the cocaine business, the conflict becomes not national but global.

These series of Violence have touched every single Colombian, in one way or another. They have injected much disappointment into the eyes of Colombians, but the love they feel for their country is greater than that. My own father was affected by a series of Violence and in his 66 years of age he has been kidnapped twice in his own country. The second time he was left nearly in ruin. Yet it was the strength and resilience found in a Colombian which brought him back on his feet to recover all that was once his. He also never left his country–why should he? It was where he was born, what he grew to love. Like my father, Colombia is gaining back what it was once hers. This is why the Colombian State has managed to take back the country, and why soon they will be putting an end to one Violence, but the most significant one.


Colombia constituted in Latin America one of the few nations in which the insurgent project of post-revolutionary Cuba survived after the 1970s. Indeed, Colombia developed a permanent insurgency which entrenched itself into the political and national landscape and imagination.


Extraterritoriality as applied in the Policy of Democratic Security meant to project force beyond national borders, even if it meant violating the sovereignty of another nation. The application of this principle was discovered in Operation Fenix of 2008 when Colombian military forces entered Ecuadorian territory without authorization and killed Farc’s Raul Reyes. Four years before this policy had been applied when the foreign relations minister of the Farc Rodrigo Granda was moved to Colombia from Caracas in a clandestine operation by Colombian intelligence officials that nearly ruptured relations with Hugo Chavez.

Mayors had historically faced serious difficulties in governing, and some exercised power from the capital of their departments (provinces). In addition, they could not freely transit their own department. This created an absence of local government, and a massive political and social kidnapping of the population in towns and cities by armed groups. The attacks to the economic infrastructure in the country not only generated enormous costs for the private sector but also confined Colombian society to a delay in the development of the economy, which increased conditions of poverty and misery.



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