An oil pipeline attacked by the FARC in January

Attacks by left-wing rebels on Colombia's oil pipelines have increased more than five-fold since 2010, and are up from 2012, amid slow-moving peace talks.

According to the Colombian Oil Association (Asociacion Colombiana del Petroleo - ACP), as of November 30 this year, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) and National Liberation Army (Ejercito Nacional de Liberacion - ELN) -- Colombia's two largest guerrilla groups -- had carried out 163 attacks on oil pipelines across the country, reported El Espectador.

The attacks led to an estimated loss of 30,000 barrels of oil daily, according to the ACP, and are up from 151 attacks in 2012, 84 in 2011 and 31 attacks in 2010.

Despite this, ACP President Alejandro Martinez Villegas said 2013 had been a "good year," owing to a seven percent increase in production compared to 2012, taking the country's oil output to just over one million barrels per day.

As well as targeting oil infrastructure, the FARC have recently caused havoc by attacking electricity supplies, cutting off 300,000 people's energy in the southwestern department of Nariño in October. On December 11, the rebels declared there could be an uptick in attacks before a temporary ceasefire scheduled to take effect on December 15.

InSight Crime Analysis

Attacking key infrastructure has long been a tactic for Colombia's guerrillas, especially in the past decade since US aid and depleted rebel numbers have reduced the FARC's capacity to engage in conventional warfare against security forces. Oil pipelines are a particularly inviting target because they are extensive and difficult to protect, and the attacks inflict significant economic damage both on state resources and direct foreign investment.

The attacks can be viewed in various ways. First, the increase in attacks could be seen as marking an increase in the FARC's capacity. Second, given the surge in attacks seen since 2012 -- when a peace process began between the FARC and the government in Havana, Cuba -- it could also represent a show of force aimed at maintaining leverage at the negotiating table.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Potential Criminalization

So far, the two sides have reached agreements on two of six items on the agenda, striking a deal last month on the difficult issue of political participation for the FARC. Negotiations have now turned to the fourth issue, drug trafficking, after the parties agreed to postpone talks on the troubling issue of transitional justice.

The unilateral ceasefire announced by the FARC will be the second observed since the beginning of the talks. For his part, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has consistently refused to consider a ceasefire until negotiations are complete and a peace deal is signed.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...