A final peace deal with the FARC is nearing

Electoral authorities say nearly 250 municipalities in Colombia are at risk of violence or fraud affecting the referendum on an anticipated peace deal with rebel group the FARC, adding to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of this historic vote. 

In an August 12 press release, Colombia's Electoral Observation Mission (Misión de Observación Electoral - MOE) said the yes/no vote expected to be put before the Colombian people on whether to accept a final peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) could be marred by violence or fraud in as many as 243 municipalities across the country. 

The two sides agreed to a bilateral ceasefire in June, and the announcement of a final peace deal in the coming months appears likely. But the peace plan calls for Colombian voters to have final say on deal. 

Of the 243 municipalities highlighted by MOE, 53 are at "extreme risk," 83 are at "high risk," while 107 are at "medium risk" of violence or fraud. More than half of the municipalities in the departments of Chocó, Arauca, Cauca and Putumayo are at risk. Antioquia registered the greatest number of municipalities at risk, with 13. 

MOE based its classifications for likelihood of electoral violence on the presence of organized crime groups, guerrillas, coca crops, illegal mining and potential for massive displacement, among other variables. 

16-08-16-Colombia-Mapa-Municipios

InSight Crime Analysis

The high potential for violence and fraud cast a pall over a referendum process that is already politically contentious. Recent polls offer conflicting indications about whether or not Colombians will vote to approve the peace agreement being hammered out by the government and FARC. And earlier this month, former president and current Senator Álvaro Uribe, long a vocal opponent to the peace process, announced his political party would spearhead the "No" campaign. This environment of uncertainty is only increased by the unprecedented nature of this type of vote in Colombia.  

"One must take into account that these are not normal elections because there are no close antecedents of other plebiscites," said MOE Director Alejandra Barrios Cabrera.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of FARC Peace

MOE's report also illustrates how there are many illegal armed groups apart from the FARC that have a stake in a potential peace deal. Neo-paramilitary groups such as the Urabeños and left-wing guerrillas like the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) could benefit immensely by occupying strategic territory left behind by a demobilized FARC, but they will also become the principal targets of the government's crusade to eliminate criminal actors. This calculus will help determine the level of organized crime violence surrounding the referendum; activists in rural Colombia have already reported receiving death threats from the Urabeños as a result of their work educating people about the peace process.

Investigations

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

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

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.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

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.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

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...