The government of Colombia and the country’s second-largest guerrilla group announced that they will soon begin formal peace negotiations, a new step in a long-delayed peace process that is sure to encounter many obstacles moving forward.
This year saw a Nobel Peace Prize for the Colombian president and two peace agreements with Marxist rebels. Yet an end to the fighting is still a ways off in this battered Andean nation, and organized crime is about to undergo another mutation.
Rebels from Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group have been demobilizing from the insurgency at nearly double last year's rate, adding weight to concerns that the guerrilla leadership is incapable of controlling its troops -- a factor that will likely hinder attempts to negotiate peace with the government.
Top officials in Colombia have recognized a phenomenon that has become increasingly apparent to observers of the FARC peace process: criminal groups are taking control of areas abandoned by the guerrillas.