Colombia History

Civil war

The Great Depression helped the Liberals return to government in 1930. The v. a. The liberal President Alfonso López Pumarejo (* 1886, † 1959; 1934–38, 1942–45), among others, came from the newly emerging urban middle class, the workers and the peasants. countered by a constitutional reform and a land reform with partial expropriation of large estates. The split in the liberals resulted in the election of the conservative president Mariano Ospina Pérez (* 1891, † 1878) in 1946. The escalation of the social conflicts led to the murder of the popular left-liberal politician Jorge Eliécer Gaitán (* 1898) on April 9, 1948and thus triggered bloody riots (»Bogotazo«). The civil war (“La Violencia”) between supporters of the Liberals and the Conservatives claimed over 200,000 lives between 1948 and 1958. In 1953, the conservative President Laureano Gómez Castro (* 1889, † 1965; 1951–53), who aspired to a totalitarian system of government, was replaced by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (* 1900, † 1975; Elected president in 1953). In 1957, according to usaers, liberals and conservatives agreed on the formation of a National Front (Frente de Transformación Nacional) and agreed to alternate between running the presidential candidate and holding the government on an equal footing until 1974; the president’s term of office was fixed at four years. This was followed by two liberal presidents who emerged from free elections, Alfonso López Michelsen (* 1913, † 2007; 1974–78) and Julio C. Turbay Ayala (* 1916, † 2005; 1978–82); the offices of the executive remained equally occupied. The public climate was determined by violence by the guerrillas and the military.

Under the conservative Belisario Betancur Cuartas (* 1923, † 2018; 1982-86), who tried to establish a dialogue with the guerrillas, the situation eased temporarily until after the occupation of the Supreme Court by the urban guerrilla Movimiento 19 de Abril (M -19) in November 1985 the fighting between guerrillas and right-wing death squads (including the military) escalated again. The victims of the right-wing extremist groups included v. a. Left oppositionists, small farmers and Indians who fought against the big landowners.

Fight against guerrillas and drug mafia

The drug mafia has contributed to the instability of the state for decades. Cocaine cultivation and smuggling (especially to the USA) are important economic factors whose corrupt structures reach into the state apparatus. President Virgilio Barco Vargas (* 1921, † 1997; PLC; 1986–90) tried to suppress this influence by imposing a state of emergency, accepting American military aid and threatening to extradite the members of the drug cartel to the USA.

César Gaviría Trujillo (* 1947; PLC) was elected as Barco’s successor in 1990, while the population determined the composition of a constituent assembly that drafted a new constitution, which came into force on July 5, 1991. The new constitution stipulated that Colombian citizens may not be extradited to other states. After fulfilling this condition set by the drug cartel, some of the leaders were arrested without the organizations losing power. Their attacks and those of the guerrillas continued during Gaviría’s tenure. Peace talks with the Marxist-Maoist groups FARC and ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) were repeatedly canceled. The 1994 presidential elections were won by the PLC candidate E. Samper Pizano .

The 1998 elections were won by A. Pastrana Arango for the conservative PCC. He intensified efforts to pacify the country through negotiations, but the clashes between the army, paramilitary organizations and guerrillas, the hostage-taking and kidnappings could not be stopped.

At the same time as the negotiations with the guerrillas, the right-wing paramilitary groups, founded by regional elites and drug lords, grew stronger. In January 1995, many of these groups joined together under the leadership of Carlos Castañoto form the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia). Due to an escalation of violence v. a. they tried to force the government to negotiate against the civilian population. This only succeeded after the election of Á. Uribe Vélez (PLC, but ran as an independent candidate) in May 2002. With the adoption of the controversial “Law for Justice and Peace” in mid-2005, the demobilization of 31,000 paramilitaries began, which was largely completed in May 2006 with their disarmament.

President Uribe, who was confirmed in office with a clear majority in 2006, continued his “hard hand” policy against the guerrillas. A Colombian military action on Ecuadorian soil against the FARC in 2008 led to a serious foreign policy crisis between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. In the same year, the Colombian security forces succeeded in liberating presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt (* 1961), who was kidnapped by the FARC rebels in 2002.

On June 20, 2010 the population elected J. M. Santos Calderón, the candidate of the ruling party Partido de la U, as the new president (re-elected in 2014). He led the policy of his predecessor Uribe continued, who had increasingly relied on military action in the fight against the FARC, but at the same time was also prepared to negotiate. The strongly weakened rebel group declared on August 23, 2010 in an open letter to the union of states Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR) ready for peace negotiations; she hoped that this procedure would provide international support for the negotiations. However, the government immediately rejected this option. On November 4, 2011, the Colombian military struck a heavy blow against the rebel organization when the FARC leader Alfonso Cano (* 1948) in a bomb attack in the province of Cauca.was killed. Peace talks with the FARC guerrillas began in Oslo in October 2012 and continued in Havana from November 2012. The government coalition “Unidad Nacional” around the Partido de la U, which supports the president, won the parliamentary elections on 9 March 2014.

Colombia History