March 2023 | Setbacks to peace process as rebel group and cartel renew violence
President Gustavo Petro’s government has experienced setbacks to its plans for peace in Colombia. Authorities announced the suspension of a ceasefire that had been put in place in the past months with the main drug trafficking group operating in the country, the Gulf Clan, and announced that military operations against this group would be renewed. The government alleges the Gulf Clan did not respect the ceasefire and has instigated terror among civil population. Petro’s plan for total peace has also suffered a blow due to renewed violence, after an army base was attacked with mortar shells, which the government attributes to the National Liberation Army (ELN). Nine soldiers were killed. While a cease-fire with the rebel group had not yet been agreed, peace talks had been undertaken in previous months after a stalemate of years.
January 2023 | Vice-President Marquez is targeted in an assassination attempt
Vice-President Francia Marquez announced that her security detail had detected an explosive device near her family home. Security officers confirmed that due to the circumstances in which such a device had been found, it could be concluded that Marquez had been the target of an assassination attempt. Francia Marquez, the first woman of African descent to hold the vice-presidency, had previously been the target of threats, harassment and a prior assassination attempt, due to her work as an environmental activist.
December 2022 | Peace talks are renewed between government and left-wing rebels
After over three years of a standstill, the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have renewed peace talks in Caracas. Venezuela, Cuba and Norway have acted as facilitators of this dialogue. Talks with the ELN, a left-wing rebel group, and the last to remain active in the country, were suspended in 2019 after an attack against a police academy killed 22 police cadets. In early December, after a first round of talks, Colombian president Gustavo Petro announced that, while a ceasefire had not been reached, dialogue had been successful. An agreement between both sides will allow Indigenous Peoples displaced from western regions of the country to return to their homes, as well as the implementation of emergency care in regions most affected by violence, starting in January.
August 2022 | Gustavo Petro takes office as President of Colombia
On 7 August Gustavo Petro took office as President of Colombia, being the first politician from the centre-left to become elected. In his inaugural addresses, he has pledged to decrease poverty, promote unity and address the economic issues that have exacerbated inequality. He has also indicated a considerable shift in policy regarding Colombia’s relationship with Venezuela and, notably, the ‘war on drugs’. Petro has stated he is considering decriminalizing cocaine, and would seek partnerships with other countries in the region to shift the strategy against drugs, while other members of his cabinet have watered down such remarks.