Colombia History and Politics Part II

Bogotazo (1948)

At the end of the 1940s the economy slowly boomed again, but a large part of the population remained in poverty. In 1946 the Conservatives came back to power. In 1948 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was murdered. He was a Liberal presidential candidate. This was followed by days of violence in Bogotá, known as Bogotazo. The center of Bogotá almost completely went up in flames.

Violencia (1948-1958)

This was followed by a ten-year civil war called Violencia (violence). Since 1946 there have been fights in the rural areas, which can be counted as part of the Violencia. 200,000 people died. In 1953, General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla seized power to prevent further bloodshed. An election confirmed him in 1954. Many combat groups initially disbanded through an amnesty. But after a short break, the fighting flared up again.

Frente Nacional (1957-1974)

In 1957, the two parties of the Liberals and Conservatives formed the National Front (Frente Nacional). They wanted to share power and stop the bloodshed. The military government was ended. From 1958 the two parties shared power and now alternately appointed the president. The violence subsided, but it did not end the conflict for good.

Armed struggle – guerrillas against the state (since 1964)

In 1964 communist groups founded two guerrilla groups: the FARC and the ELN. FARC is the abbreviation for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia and means in German: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. ELN means Ejército de Liberación Nacional, in German: National Liberation Army.

Both groups waged an armed struggle against the state. Drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion are the sources of income especially for the FARC.

The left guerrillas faced an association of paramilitary troops, which they fought but also financed themselves through drug trafficking. The drug marijuana began to be trafficked in the 1960s, and was replaced by cocaine in the mid-1970s.

History of Colombia from 1970

Foundation of the M-19 (1970)

In 1970 another guerrilla group, the M-19, was founded. The name is the abbreviation of Movimiento 19 de Abril, which means “Movement April 19th”. On that day, 1970 presidential elections took place. This resulted in electoral fraud. The M-19 was converted into a legal political party in 1991. It has since become the third political force in Colombia.

Drug cartels

In the 1970s, drug cartels were founded that were financed by growing cocaine. Most of the cocaine was smuggled into the United States and Europe. The Medellín cartel and the Cali cartel were particularly influential. Pablo Escobar was at the head of the Medellín cartel. He became one of the richest men in the world. He was cruel and unscrupulous. In 1993 he was shot dead in a raid.

Escalation of Violence (1990s)

The violence was particularly severe in the 1990s. The guerrilla groups temporarily controlled half of the entire national territory. Millions of people fled the clashes within the country.

Álvaro Uribe Vélez (2002-2010)

In 2002, the independent candidate Álvaro Uribe Vélez became President of Colombia. He declared a state of emergency for 90 days after another wave of violence. Uribe increased the military pressure on the guerrillas. In 2005 the Green Party of Colombia was founded. In 2006 the paramilitary units were disbanded. The fight against drug production has also intensified. Coca fields were destroyed by spraying plant poison over a large area. The area under cultivation then sank.

On February 4, 2008, two million Colombians demonstrated for the release of the people abducted by the FARC. In July 2008, the Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, probably the most famous hostage of the FARC, was freed with another 14 hostages after being held captive for six years. The violence decreased, the guerrillas lost control of large areas.

Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) – Peace Talks

In 2010 Juan Manuel Santos became president. He spoke out in favor of continuing the fight against the FARC. There have been peace talks between the government and the FARC since 2012. No ceasefire was agreed for the time of the peace talks. In 2014 there was a breakthrough in negotiations. At the end of the year there was another kidnapping by the FARC. Talks resumed after the prisoners were released.

In 2014 the acreage of coca increased again many times over. Santos decided in 2015 to stop chemical destruction of coca plants because of possible health consequences.

In 2016 a final armistice was finally decided. In a referendum, the peace treaty was rejected by a narrow majority. However, this is not binding, so the contract should still apply. In 2017, the FARC was disarmed, accompanied by the United Nations.

Recent history of Colombia

In 2018 Iván Duque was elected as the new President of Colombia. He belongs to the Centro Democrático party. This right-wing conservative party was only founded in 2013. She continues the policy of former President Uribe Vélez.

Colombia Politics