Colombia. According to Countryaah website, national day of Colombia is every July 20. The civil war escalated during the year. First, in February, after the peace talks with the largest guerrilla group FARC, President Andrés Pastrana ordered the army to occupy the so-called relaxation zone that the FARC practically had dominion over in the southern part of the country since December 1998. The measure triggered a wave of refugees from the area.
On May 26, Álvaro Uribe (Independent, former Liberal) won the presidential election by 53% over the Liberal Party’s Horácio Serpa. During his election campaign, Uribe promised a tougher and more uncompromising attitude to the guerrillas, and in September a major offensive was launched against FARC. According to government sources, 400 FARC soldiers were killed in a month and a half. Despite, or because of, a desire to see an end to the violence in the country, Uribe’s conflict-oriented policies were welcomed by most Colombians. His strongest support in the election came, for example. from the most violent parts of the country, and a public opinion poll in August showed that the proportion of people who supported Uribe had even increased to three-quarters of the population.
On August 7, the same day that the investigation was published and Uribe swore to the presidency, the capital Bogotá was shaken by a concerted assault wave staged by FARC with a total of 21 dead. Five days later, Uribe issued 90 days of emergency in the country, and it was extended by another 90 days in November. The state of emergency has prevailed in Colombia for most of the second half of the 20th century.
However, the escalating violence during the year seemed to reach its peak already in May. During fighting between the FARC and paramilitary militias in the Chocó province, on May 2, 111 people were killed, 108 injured and 48 reported as missing in the village of Bojayá. It was the worst civilian massacre ever in Colombia. FARC was held as the main responsible for what happened, but labeled it as a mistake. However, similar fighting continued during the following days in the Province of Antioquia, with 78 dead as a result, according to many as a result of FARC’s attempt to drive away paramilitary forces from northwestern Colombia.
The United States asked in September that Carlos Castaño, leader of the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) umbrella organization of the paramilitary forces, be extradited to stand trial. Castaño himself announced that he was willing to accept the point of indictment on cocaine smuggling but not terrorism. AUC was stamped by the US government as a terrorist organization on September 10, 2001.
1991 New peace talks
In the same year, the guerrilla groups formed the FARC, ELN and Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL, the Liberal Liberation Army) Coordinadora Guerrillera Simón Bolívar (CGSB, Guerilla Coordination Simón Bolívar), operating in 35% of the country. The guerrilla coordination also created an international battalion, Batallon America, which included partisans from MRTA in Peru and Alfaro Vive in Ecuador. In June 1991, the Gaviria government entered into negotiations with CGSB in Venezuela with regard to. the conclusion of a peace agreement to disarm the guerrillas, civilian control over Colombia’s armed forces, the dissolution of paramilitary groups and the inclusion of former partisans in legal political life.
The new constitution of July 5, 1991, created the vice presidential office, banned the re-election of the president, allowed divorce in Catholic marriages, introduced direct election of local authorities, a form of autonomy for the indigenous peoples, the opportunity for a referendum, popular legislative initiatives and gender equality. The Constitution was criticized by the Left for not allowing military people to be sued by civil courts for assault on the civilian population and for handing over police authority to the security service.
In the same year, an agreement was reached between the president and the three largest groups in the Constitutional Assembly to reduce the number of seats, and on October 27, new elections were held. Although the Liberal Party was divided into a number of different groups, it achieved 60% of the vote, while the backing for ADM-19 fell to 10%. This trend was confirmed by the subsequent municipal elections in March 92, despite an election boycott of 70%.
The peace process reached its lowest level in 1992. After interrupting the negotiations, the government published a plan for “continuous warfare” involving attacks on civilian organizations affiliated with the guerrilla. The CGSB resisted the army’s offensive and continued its military actions. At the same time, the activity of the paramilitary groups increased again. It was concentrated around the central parts of the Magdalena valley, Boyacá and Medellín town. The violence led to an extensive influx of refugees from the conflict areas to other parts of the country.