Oil raffinery and Cristo Petrolero statue in Barrancabermeja, Santander Department. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0

Protests against new fracking projects in Colombia

A new fracking initiative has been formalized by the Colombian government in cooperation with the state enterprise Ecopetrol. The first of four exploratory projects will take place in Puerto Wilches, a small community located next to the Magdalena River, one of the largest in Colombia. Fracking has been associated with water pollution, which could lead to severe consequences for local people’s livelihoods and the region as a whole. Social and environmental activists have received death threats and have grown increasingly vulnerable since 2016. Nevertheless, protests have emerged and will likely continue, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

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"La Marcha Más Grande de Chile" took place during the 2019 protest movement in Chile. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Natalia Reyes Escobar | CC BY-SA 4.0

One Year Later: The Legacy of Latin America’s 2019 Mass Protests

Between October and December 2019, mass protests swept Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. A year later, the legacies of these episodes of contention look very different. While in Chile protests enforced the initiation of a constitutional reform process that continues on track, recent elections in Bolivia reversed last year’s political about-face. In Ecuador and Colombia, the 2019 mass protests did not initiate comparable policy changes to begin with – but this doesn’t mean they had no lasting effects.

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"They kill us on and on" - more than 8000 indigenous people from the Cauca region protest against the escalating violence in Bogotá on 19.10.2020 | Photo: Picture Alliance/AA
Bogotá, October 19, 2020: More than 8,000 indigenous people protest in the capital. “They keep killing us“ is the slogan on the poster held by two indigenous Colombians from the Cauca region 600 kilometers away. In Cauca, especially representatives of the indigenous population are victims of the escalating violence. | Photo: Picture Alliance/AA

The Political Logic of Violence. The Assassination of Social Leaders in the Context of Authoritarian Local Orders in Colombia

Ever since the conclusion of the peace deal between the Colombian government and FARC guerrilla in late 2016, the number of social leaders murdered has risen sharply – something that even the latest developments surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic have had little bearing on. These acts of violence are frequently attributed to the presence of armed non-state actors and their fight for control over illegal economies. And yet, the situation has an unmistakably political side to it, reflecting the very modus operandi of local authoritarian orders in Colombia. For counterstrategies to be developed, it is crucial to acknowledge the political logic behind the violence.

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„Sie töten uns weiter und weiter" - mehr als 8000 Indigene aus der Region Cauca protestieren am 19.10.2020 in Bogotá gegen die eskalierende Gewalt. Foto: Picture Alliance/AA

Die politische Logik der Gewalt. Zur Ermordung sozialer Aktivist*innen im Kontext autoritärer lokaler Ordnungen in Kolumbien

Seit dem Abschluss des Friedensabkommens zwischen der kolumbianischen Regierung und der FARC-Guerrilla Ende 2016 sind die Morde an sozialen Aktivist*innen deutlich angestiegen. Daran hat sich auch unter den Bedingungen der COVID-19-Pandemie nichts geändert. Häufig wird diese Gewalt allein auf die Präsenz bewaffneter, nichtstaatlicher Akteure und deren Kampf um die Kontrolle illegaler Ökonomien zurückgeführt. Sie hat aber zugleich eine dezidiert politische Seite und spiegelt konkret die Funktionsweise lokaler autoritärer Ordnungen in Kolumbien. Diese politische Logik anzuerkennen, ist wichtig, um Gegenstrategien zu entwickeln.

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Medellín barrio Villa Turbay - Línea H del Metrocable entre las estaciones Las Torres y Villa Sierra
Medellín barrio Villa Turbay - Línea H del Metrocable entre las estaciones Las Torres y Villa Sierra. | Photo: Felipe Restrepo Acosta | CC BY-SA 4.0

Se trata de estructuras, no de ayuda – Asentamientos informales y la desigualdad de la pandemia en Medellín, Colombia

En Colombia, el 25 de marzo se instaló una cuarentena nacional debido a la pandemia de la Corona. Pocos días antes, varias organizaciones no gubernamentales y comunitarias ya habían publicado una declaratoria  con una alerta temprana a la alcaldía  de Medellín – la segunda ciudad más grande de Colombia, premiada varias veces por su innovadora política urbana. En ese declaratoria, pidieron que se prestara especial atención a las personas que vivían en asentamientos informales y zonas periféricas: Las desigualdades existentes y las diversas formas de discriminación se exacerban debido a la creciente precarización de la informalidad a través de las medidas preventivas actuales. Los residentes de los barrios marginales se ven privados de los modos de sustento que han generado de forma independiente. Las intersecciones de las opresiones exponen a esas personas a riesgos mortales. Se necesita urgentemente un ingreso básico y protección de la salud.

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Medellín barrio Villa Turbay - Línea H del Metrocable entre las estaciones Las Torres y Villa Sierra
Medellín barrio Villa Turbay - Line H of the Metrocable between Las Torres and Villa Sierra stations. | Photo: Felipe Restrepo Acosta | CC BY-SA 4.0

It is About Structures, Not Aid – Informal Settlements and the Inequality of the Pandemic in Medellín, Colombia

In Colombia, a national quarantine due to the Corona pandemic was installed on March 25th. A few days earlier, several non-governmental and community-based organizations had already published an alert statement in the city of Medellín – the second largest city of Colombia, awarded multiple times for its innovative urban policy. In this statement, they called for special attention to people living in informal settlements and peripheral areas: Existing inequalities and various forms of discrimination are exacerbated by the increasing precarisation of informality through current preventive measures. Residents of marginalized neighbourhoods get deprived of livelihoods that they have built up independently. The intersections of oppressions expose those people to deadly risks. A basic income and health protection are urgently needed.

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Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro is well known for insults against indigenous people. | Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR | CC BY 2.0

Indigenous Peoples’ experiences: Some observations about the new political era in Latin America

In the last five years, Latin America has entered a new political era with indigenous peoples at the center of these changes. The new governments in the region are promoting revisionist policies regarding past state violence and implementing new policies of indigenous dispossession. However, the observable trend denying indigenous peoples their basic rights, and their participation on issues affecting them, is not only an issue of minority politics, it also draws broader fundamental civil rights and liberties into question.

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El concepto de paz territorial no tiene mucho que ofrecer al asentamiento informal de La Primavera | Photo: Max Baum

La paz territorial en Colombia: No es sólo una cuestión rural

En el marco de las negociaciones de paz entre el gobierno colombiano y la guerrilla FARC-EP, que culminaron en un histórico acuerdo de paz a finales de 2016, la dimensión territorial del conflicto violento fue conceptualizada por primera vez como un problema central. Desde entonces, en Colombia se ha hablado del desafío de establecer una paz territorial. La idea básica es que la paz debe construirse desde abajo, en espacios locales concretos, y en procesos participativos. En este contexto, el concepto de paz territorial genera una serie de interrogantes. Este artículo analiza un punto ciego central: la importancia de las áreas metropolitanas en los que se encuentran numerosas víctimas del conflicto y que hasta ahora han recibido poca atención en el debate sobre la paz territorial.

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The concept of territorial peace by the Santos government does not have much to offer to the informal settlement La Primavera | Photo: Max Baum

Territorial peace in Colombia: Not just a rural issue

Within the framework of the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrilla organization FARC-EP, which culminated in a historic peace agreement at the end of 2016, the territorial dimension of the violent conflict was conceptualized as a central problem for the first time. Since then, in Colombia, there has been talk about the challenge of establishing a territorial peace. The basic idea is that peace should be built from below, in concrete local spaces, in participatory processes. In this respect, the concept of territorial peace raises several questions. This article discusses a central blind spot: the importance of metropolitan areas in which numerous victims of the conflict can be identified and which have so far received little attention in the discussion about territorial peace.

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