For years, TNI’s work in Colombia has largely focussed on how public policies and political processes have affected (rural) communities and their collective efforts to democratise access to land, water, and other natural resources. In doing so, TNI has collaborated with local organisations and researchers, while simultaneously building bridges between grassroots movements and policymakers at the national and international level.
The outcome of the October 2nd plebiscite in Colombia was a surprise for the international community and different democratic sectors in the country. It was an invitation to the Colombian population to endorse the Agreements reached between Juan Manuel Santos’ Government and the left wing guerrilla group, the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC). The outcome was a surprise even among the conservative sectors and those that had opposed the Agreements, who did not expect a majority of a NO vote. The Agreements aimed to end the armed conflict with the guerrilla group which has lasted for more than 50 years.
The current development model in place across Colombia has brought repression and harassment. The government has not fulfilled the terms of a 2013 agreement. On May 27th, the Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Etnica y Popular1 called for a national Minga - a period of strikes and mobilizations - across Colombia to put pressure on the government.
Although there is talk of peace, there are no safeguards for the activities of the social organisations that are working to defend social rights and to oppose an economic model that is deepening inequality and that violates fundamental rights.
Despite promises made during the negotiation process, the multiparty trade agreement between the EU, Colombia and Peru has not helped to improve the living conditions of the Colombian population. On the contrary, conflicts linked to export sectors and EU investment have continued and, in some cases, worsened.
Law 1448 has been promoted as a demonstration of ‘good will’ by Santos' government in Colombia. The law’s main objective is to provide recognition to the victims of the Colombian armed conflict. This stands in contrast to the policy of denial enacted by the previous government.
Banacols business benefits from paramilitary structures, the promotion of land invasions for banana production, and contracts with individuals who do not have the approval of the communities. These activities are pursued to advance agreements concerning the use of the land, against Colombian laws.