In this next BONUS episode of the EarthRights Podcast about post-war peace processes, Mel is in conversation with Paola (Colombian national living in the UK) and Mary (PhD student researching the impact of the armed conflict and drug policy in Colombia).
In view of the very recent uprisings and protests going on in Colombia and Europe, Paola and Mary tell us about the history of this conflict, the establishment of FARK, the left wing illegal army and the post war peace process currently in a state of flux. Many social leaders have been killed during these protests; Paola reflects that violence in this way is ingrained in Colombians as a means to solve political issues.
Paola explains about the 50-60 years of civil war, which began in the 1950s, starting back in colonial Colombia when populist figure Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated an violence spread across the country. This lead to the creation of militarised groups, a struggle for power and political exclusion, even which after the civil war prevail today in Colombia.
Paola then reflects personally on what the violence looked like when she grew up in Bogota as a child; petrified of being bombed on a bus or in a shopping centre by paramilitary groups. Mary tells us what it was like visiting Colombia more recently in 2014 during the time of the peace process and how she was surprised at how safe she felt.
Paola and Mary also explain what the FARK is, and how this group was involved in the making of the Colombian peace process to end the long and violent conflict.
Mary provides a lot of insight into Colombia’s battle with drugs – Colombians have often been so desperate and destitute they have turned to the coca crop to make some money. The interwoven war on drugs in Colombia has seriously affected the civil war as drugs money has helped to fund militarised insurgent groups but the problems are still unsresolved.
However, as we touched on in last week’s episode looking at Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and peace process, establishing peace is never simple and so we still have a situation in Columbia of great civil unrest, protest and corruption.