Share on Facebook

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez requests that Colombian rebels stop Kidnapping.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

The image “http://users.skynet.be/fa323971/Website%20arabisch/Alhambra.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.



DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

...the three greatest dolts in the world: Jesus Christ, Don Quixote and I..."
-attributed to Simon Bolivar.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS: DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.

TAG: Hugo Chavez's intervention to free Colombian hostages and request that FARC end kidnapping recalls his hero Simon Bolivar and the dream of Gran Colombia which once united Colombia and Venezuela. Is he following in Bolivar's footsteps?

IN THE NEWS: VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ, SPEAKING IN HIS WEEKLY TV BRPOADCAST, REQUESTS THAT THE COLOMBIAN REBEL GROUP FARC REFRAIN FROM USING KIDNAPPING IN ITS POLITICAL-MILITARY STRUGGLE. AFTER SECURING THE RELEASE OF TWO HOSTAGES ON JANUARY 10, CHAVEZ, WHO IS SYMPATHETIC TO THE AIMS OF THE FARC ALSO ASKED THAT THE REBELS BE REFERRED TO AS INSURGENTS RATHER THAN TERRORISTS AND THAT THEIR POLITICAL STRUGGLE BE RECOGNIZED. AND YET, TO THE SURPRISE OF MANY, CHAVEZ SAID HE DISAPPROVES OF ARMED STRUGGLE.

REAR-VIEW MIRROR:
*The war involving FARC and other Colombian rebel groups is an extension of the Colombian civil war known as 'La Violencia' which has been going on since 1948 when the charismatic liberal reformer, Jorge Eleacer Gaitan, was assassinated.
*'La Violencia' began as a religious conflict which pitted secular and liberal Protestants against conservative Catholics. That struggle in turn had its roots in the mid-19th century.
*The large rebel group known as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)is heir to the old Communist Party of Colombia (PCC), founded in 1930; which was heir in turn to the old Liberal-secular, anti-clerical protest. The PCC fought in "La Violencia" before being renamed FARC in 1966.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
-in 1821, Venezuela and Colombia were once part of Simon Bolivar's Gran Colombia, a territorial union which was meant to be the starting point of a united, free and democratic Latin America.
-in 1829, in a dispute with Bolivar, General Antonio Paez, governor at Caracas, separated Venezuela from Colombia and declared it an independent republic.
-seeing himself as heir to Bolivar, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been trying to spread his influence throughout Latin America by using his oil revenue to support energy projects and other initiatives. His motive seems to be two-fold: to put himself at the head of anti-American protest by offering an alternative to US free trade deals and the international development agencies; and secondly, to claim the legacy of his compatriot Simon Bolivar in leading a left-wing social revolution in Latin America.
-despite an uneasy relationship with conservative Colombian president Alvaro Uribe who has signed a free trade deal with the US, Chavez knows that facilitating hostage negotiations with the FARC will make him popular with ordinary Colombians tired of the war- as well as improving his standing throughout the world.

IN A NUTSHELL: Colombia's history has been characterized by relatively frequewnt democratic transitions of power and a solid economy. However, the country is divided in three by two parallel mountain ranges where poor communications and distance from the capital have produced regions of deep poverty. The remote southeast, territorially part of the Amazon basin, is probably the most alienated from mainstream Colombia and it is there that the FARC has made its home. A conservative hegemony from the late 19th into the twentieth century produced constitutional stability and a Liberal hegemony in the early 20th century produced social and economic advancement. All of that collapsed in 1948 when conservative forces turned against increasing Liberal tolerance of the secular left. The resulting war, which has been going on in one form or another for sixty years, has become the war that nobody wants. Since the mid-1980s, FARC and the government have been in off-again, on-again negotiations to end the fighting. Sanctuaries, autonomous zones, demilitarized zones, amnesties, hostage-for prisoner-exchanges, demobilization and truces have sputtered on for at least twenty years. FARC has always been able to drive a hard bargain since it is almost entirely funded by the lucrative Colombian drug traffic; but also because right-wing death squads have driven local populations into its ranks. President Uribe has had some success in demobilizing the death squads and in fighting the drug traffic. These have uncovered his next big problem- the hundreds of hostages held by FARC. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is able to exploit Colombia's and Venezuela's shared heritage as home of South America's great liberator, Simon Bolivar.

THEN AND NOW: From World War One, through the 1920s, Colombian prospered from power-sharing between Conservatives and Liberals, political neutrality and merchant shipping from the Panama canal, growth in coffee exports and revenue of from foreign oil concessions. It was never again to know such stability. Prosperity faded with the onset of the Depression and peace ended with the outbreak of civil war in 1946. Today, new versions of the civil war continue, unabated. On the positive side, President Uribe, an independent former Liberal enjoys unprecendented popularity and the the Liberal and Conservatives are probably closer, ideologically, then they have ever been in their turbulent history. While 'La Violencia' once divided the entire country- civil conflict no longer divides mainstream society.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
.PREVIOUS ENTRIES
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE: The Cuaca river valley
PROFILE: Manuel Marulanda.
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: 1946-1980. The problems of modern Columbia began after World War Two with dissension between Liberal secularists and Conservative Catholics. After a period of modernizing secularism under Liberal president Afonso Lopez, the Conservatives returned to power in 1946 under the pro-clerical Ospina Perez, dissolving the legislature and outlawing left wing political parties. In support of a liberal Protestant reaction against the pro-Catholic government, Eleacer Gaitan, the securalist education minister, attacked conservative religious policies and spoke in support of striking bannana workers, landless peasants and the industrial proletariat. On April 9, 1948, Gaitan was assassinated. His supporters lynched the accused assassin and Bogota was overtaken by days of rioting known as the "Bogotazo"- the worst riots in Latin American history. Thus began Colombia's long, mid-twentieth century nightmare, known as "La Violencia".
Despite the formation of a moderate Liberal-Conservative coalition, a guerrilla insurgency developed in the countryside in the fall of 1948. Gaitan became a symbol of liberation for the poor, the government moved farther to the right and Protestants, associated with liberalism, began to suffer persecution. In 1949, Communist rebels declared a region in the southern, Tolima department an independent republic and named it Gaitania, after the martyr of 1948 (The name was later changed to Marquetalia). President Ospina Perez lost the election of 1950 but was ultimately succeeded by the ultra-Catholic hardliner Laureano Gomez. The persecution of liberal Protestants increased and Gomez made the army into a personalized force. In 1952 alone, 12,000 died in the guerilla war and associated violence as the country collapsed into chaos while right wing guerrilla bands took on the leftist insurgents in the hills. The cold-war language of Communism and Fascism became universal. Gomez declared a state of emergency only to see his Conservative party split, its left wing joining the conservative Liberals to form a coalition in 1953. The centrist alliance was backed by a moderate part of the army under General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. Rojas Pinilla made a truce with the leftist guerillas, lifted censorship, conciliated the Liberals and on July 13, 1953, formed a provisional government. By then, around 180,000 Colombians had been killed in the fighting.
But by 1957, Pinilla was veering into despotism. The wealthiest cattleman in the country, he began sending money abroad, provoking a strike in the commercial and banking sectors. Even the army turned against Pinilla and on May 10, his own junta forced him to resign, appointing in his place Gabriel Paris. Paris intervened against the persecution of Protestants and began a rapprochement with the Liberals. These continual attempts to find a coalition or compromise between the Liberals and Conservatives to stop the violence would become a leitmotif. In 1957, Paris conferred with Liberal leader Alberto Lleras Camargo who worked out a power-sharing formula by which, according to a new article in the constitution, Liberals and Conservatives would take alternate terms in office. In 1958, celebrations ensued as Camargo was elected president and set out on a program of economic austerity. The Liberal-Conservative compact that brought a measure of peace was now called "The National Front."
In the 1960s, however, left-wing pressure grew against the Liberal-Conservative grip on power embodied in the National Front. The leader of the Communist insurgency was killed and replaced by (future FARC leader) Manual Marulanda in 1960. Despite the newfound stability, "La Violenica" continued in rural areas, with two more left wing insurgencies, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Maoist People's Liberation Army (PLN), both formed in 1965. In the same year the guerilla and former priest, Camillo Torres issued a radical manifesto but in 1966, he was killed by the Colombian army. Meanwhile, Marulanda renamed his Communist Party insurgency the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In 1970, as the insurgency continued, the old Liberal-Conservative National Front was opposed by a coalition of leftist parties, the National People's Alliance and in 1971 another leftist armed group, M-19 was formed. Between 1976 and 1980, the FARC engaged the army and the police in heavy fighting in the departments of Hula, Santander and Sucre. Despite strong economic growth, continued disorder and poverty in rural areas combined to produce a thriving drug traffic by the end of the decade.


RELEVANT DATES:

1781- the Communero Revolt- under the Spanish ‘right of revolt’ against royal injustices, Mestizos, planters and Indians of the Sorocco region rise up against Bourbon administrative measures involving expropriation to extract more tax from tobacco growers. Several thousand rebels march on Bogota, where there is sympathy from the Creoles who share a dislike of the Bourbons. The bishop and clergy persuade them to relent. But the Indians continue to hold out for the return of their lands. Jose Antionio Galan rises to lead the continuing rebellion. The Creoles eventually defect to the Bourbon administrators and the revolt is crushed.

1819- from the central plains of Venezuela, Bolivar takes his army into Colombia. He is elected dictator and president of the liberated areas. He campaigns into the Andes and defeats Spanish forces at Boyaca. He creates the state of Gran Colombia which includes Venezuela and all of northern South America.

1821- Bolivar formally inaugurates the confederation of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador as Gran Columbia but Venezuela is an unwilling participant.

1832- Santander is called back from exile to be president of Colombia. He heads the Liberal party but popular outcry blames him for administrative chaos and he clamps down on all opposition. Conservatives loyal to the Church from the provinces of Popayan and Pasto block his liberal educational and economic reforms.

-ecclesiastic and military resistance to Santander results in civil war. Pedro Alcantara Herran becomes president.

1849- Cipriano Mosquera’s Conservatives split over disagreements with the Liberal intellectual elite over religious reforms. The Conservatives are forced out of power.

-chronic strife between anti-clerical Liberals and pro-clerical Conservatives. The central, enduring struggle in Colombia, firstly between Centralism and Federalism; and secondly between an all-powerful Church and supporters of freedom of religion will result in over 100 insurrections and civil wars.

1867-1880- Liberal regimes maintain a rule shaken by violence and revolts. They allow Protestant missionaries to set up among Llanero ranchers in the highlands and later among jungle rubber workers because the Catholic Church has no social programs.

1885- new constitution ends the Federalist-Centralist struggle by enshrining a centralizing authority.

1886-1930- Conservative hegemony during which a centralizing Presidency is strengthened.

1899-1903- the War of a Thousand Days between a Conservative government and the Liberal commercial elite takes 100,000 lives.

1920-1930- economic boom and progress in coffee and oil.

1936- Liberals under Alfonso Lopez bring in a new constitution which subjects Church schools to government inspectors and charities to government regulation.

1946- Conservatives return to power with the religious, pro-clerical Ospina Perez.
Protestants are seen to provoke outrage by celebrating services near Catholic churches. And attacking Catholic teaching. This turns many moderate liberals against religious freedoms.

-Left-Liberal Minister of Education Jorge Eleacer Gaitan- charismatic orator supports striking banana workers and landless peasants and industrial workers

1948- April 9- at pan-Latin American meeting to hear US Gen. George Marshall-- Gaitan is assassinated. Bogota is taken over by rioting. Gaitan supporters lynch the assassin. Government blames the tiny Communist Party. These riots, known as the ‘Bogotazo’ let loose the civil war, ‘La Violencia’

1948-55- ‘La Violencia’. Civil war between secularist Liberals and clerical Conservatives.

1957- May 10- May 10- Pinilla forced to resign. But his own military junta appoints Gabriel Paris as provisional president. Junta stops persecution of Protestants and allows Protestant missionaries to enter the country again. Paris consults with Liberal leader, Alberto Lleras Camargo

-Camargo creates a formula for power-sharing between local and national Liberal and Conservative leaders. According to an article in the constitution, Liberal and Conservative parties will take power alternately term for term. The Liberal-Conservative alliance is called the National Front.

-La Violencia gives way to a formal, left wing, rural insurgency. In the end, la Violencia has cost 2 to 300,000 lives.

1966- founding of FARC - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia.

1970- founding of the National People’s Alliance- to oppose the Liberal-Conservative National Front.

1980s- the narcotics traffic in Columbian cocaine produces two immensely powerful drug cartels in Medellin and Cali. They become sufficiently powerful through car bombings and other attacks to exercise a direct threat to the Colombian government.

1982- FARC offers to stop its armed struggle in return for unconditional amnesty but in vain.

1984- May 28- FARC and the government agree to a truce providing for a demilitarized zone where the FARC would be allowed to open a political front. Claims of mutual violations culminate in accusations by the government that the FARC has resorted to kidnapping.

1984- the FARC's political wing, the Patriotic Union Party, is founded only to face an assassination campaign from the extreme right.

1986- Liberal, Virgilio Barco Vargas elected president. Right wing extremists launch murder campaign against the Patriotic Union Party. Drug cartels employ paramilitary death squads.

1998- Andres Pastrana Arango elected President- begins talks with FARC.

1998- Pastrana grants FARC a large safe haven in the south east.

1999- FARC chief Manuel Marulanda and Pastrana hold desultory peace talks.

2000- July- under ‘Plan Colombia’ Pastrana gets almost 1 billion from the US to fight the drug trade and its rebel supporters.

2001- June- FARC releases captured police and soldiers in exchange for rebel prisoners. The government accuses FARC or using its safe haven to re-arm.

Oct.- Government and FARC sign San Franciso agreement for ceasefire. Safe Haven is extended until January, 2002.

2002- Feb- Pastrana extends the safe haven until April.

Peace talks with FARC collapse.

2002- 20 Feb. In response to a plane hijacked by FARC, Pastrana calls off peace talks and declares war on the rebels’ safe zone.

-May- Independent, Avaro Uribe- makes way toward winning elections. Vows to crack down on FARC
.
-August- Uribe sworn in amidst bombings, allegedly by FARC.

President Uribe cracks down on FARC.

2003 -October- Uribe’s austerity measures and reforms rejected by assembly. Several ministers resign.

November- right wing paramilitary United Self Defence Forces of Columbia (AUC) begin to lay down their arms.

2005- January- -dispute with Venezuela about the capture of a FARC leader on Venezuelan soil. It is resolved in Caracas in February.

2006- March- Uribe wins landslide in elections for the assembly.

May- Uribe re-elected.

June- Government releases FARC captives but FARC does not reciprocate, demanding instead that the military pull back and set up a new demilitarized zone.

July- hundreds of thousands protest continued chaos and violence in the country.

Sept. Hugo Chavez offers to talk to FARC about releasing hostages.

November- President Uribe sets December 21 as the deadline for Chavez to bring off a prisoner exchange.

-Chaves withdraws the Venezeualan ambassador from Bogota in a dispute with Uribe who has prohibited Chavez from making direct contact with FARC in his role as negotiator.

2008- January- Chaves’s hostage negations with FARC fall through when it is discovered that one of the hostages, a young boy, is actually in foster care in Bogota. Colombia accuses FARC of a fraudulent attempt to obtain the release of prisoners in exhange.

–January 11- priority hostages Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzales are released due to the intervention and negotiations by Venezuela’s Chavez. Chavez asks that the world cease labeling the FARC a terrorist group. Uribe replies that the Farc fits the definition because it attacks innocent civilians.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: By the early 1980s, the rebel insurgencies, though still active, were quiescent, the government having absorbed many of them into the political system. The Left insurgency, mild for the moment, gave way two giant cocaine trafficking cartels of Medellin and Cali. Resorting to methods of terror such as car bombings, they were a direct threat to the Colombian government and eventually their earnings would exceed those of Colombia's primary export, coffee. While President Betancur declared an amnesty for leftist guerillas and released political prisoners in 1982, the problem of the cocaine cartels was looming larger with the 1984 murder of the justice minister by drug traffickers. FARC, meanwhile, offered to stop its armed struggle in return for unconditional amnesty- but in vain. Its numbers by that time had reportedly grown to 12,000 and in 1983, the FARC, M-19 and the ELN formed a united front. On May 28, 1984, FARC and the government agreed to a truce providing for a demilitarized zone where the FARC would be allowed to open a political front. Claims of mutual violations culminated in accusations by the government that the FARC had resorted to kidnapping. At the same time, FARC and the government began a process of demobilizing some of the rebels. Still, by 1985, the two scourges of the Colombian government were growing side by side and members of the guerilla group M-19 raided the Palace of Justice in Bogota, killing 11 judges and 9 others. That year, the FARC's political wing, the Patriotic Union Party, was founded only to face an assassination campaign from the extreme right. The government of Virgilio Barco Vargas, meanwhile, faced paramlitary death squads from the drug cartels. In 1990, Colombia elected Cesar Gavarilla Trujillo to fight the cartels while narcotrafficante death squads assassinated candidates for the Liberal and Patriotic Union parties during the election campaign.
The new constitution of 1991 banned the extradition of wanted Colombians to other countries, legalized divorce and protected the rights of indigenous peoples without addressing their territorial claims. But above all it empowered the executive to take on the drug cartels. Still, the fortunes of Colombia descended further and a state of emergency was declared in 1992. The following year, the world's most powerful drug baron, Pablo Escobar, was killed by police with assistance from US agents. In 1995, Ernesto Samper Piszano became president and was cleared of receiving money for his campaign from the drug barons. However, corruption was becoming widespread as drug money entered the political system.
What looked as if it might be a new era dawned in 1998 when preside elect, Andres Pastrana Arango opened negotiations with the FARC. The FARC was granted a large safe haven for a limited period, in the south east. Throught 1999, FARC chief, Manuel Marulanda and President Pastrana held desultory talks. Part of the problem was the growth of right-wing paramilitary forces, which, with the FARC, polarized the countryside. Moreover, paramilitary groups like the AUC were suspected of having links with the regular army. Both paramilitaries and rebels, it appeared, were funded by the trade in narcotics. The following year, under 'Plan Colombia', the Pastrana received $1 billion US to fight drug trafficking. Things with FARC took a positive direction as well with the government exchanging rebel prisoners for captured soldiers. However, there were suspicions that FARC was using its southeastern 'Cuaca' sanctuary to re-arm. By the San Francisco agreement the rebel safe haven was extended until January 2002. In February, 2002, Pastrana extended it until April. But on February 20th, FARC rebels hijacked a plane, Pastrana called off peace talks and declared outright war on the FARC safe haven.
In August, 2002, Alvaro Uribe, an independent Liberal was sworn in amid bombings attributed to FARC. A year later his attempted reforms and austerity measures were blocked in the legislature amid the resigation of several of his ministers. But by November 2003, Uribe had managed to bring about disarmament of one of the main right-wing paramilitary forces, the AUC (United Self Defence Forces of Colombia) and in 2004 a FARC leader, Ricado Palmera was captured. Peace talks with the AUC followed.
Venezuela came onto the scene in January, 2005, when it protested the capture of a FARC leader by Colombian forces on Venezuelan soil. The dispute was resolved in Caracas in February. Meanwhile, incentives were offered to the paramilitaries if they would demobilize while the government held peace talks the other major guerilla group, the ELN.
Claiming a probable free trade deal with the U.S. and some success with the guerillas and drug traffickers, President Uribe won legislative elections in March, 2006, in a landslide and was himself re-elected in May. In June, 2007, new problems arose: the government released imprisoned rebels but FARC responded only with a demand for the withdrawal of government troops and the establishment of a demilitarized zone.
Responding to popular unhappiness in Colombia about continued chaos in the country, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez offered in September to mediate in negotiations aimed at the gradual release at least 100 hostages held by the FARC. In November, Uribe asked Chaves to withdraw from the talks, claiming he had broken rules which prohibited him from making direct contact with FARC. After Chaves was allowed to resume his role in January, 2008 Uribe called off hostage negotiations when it was learned that one of the hostages offered by FARC- a little boy- was actually in foster care in Bogota. After negotiations resumed on January 11, Chaves triumphed, securing the release of two, high-profile hostages.

PREVIOUS ENTRIES
On Venezuela (this is the first entry on Colombia):
Dec. 1 07- Chavez defeated in vote on indefinite re-election.
Aug 10 07- Chavez spreads Venezuelan largess.
July 23 07- Hugo Chavez moves to extend presidential term limits.
May 27, 07- Venezuela's Chavez pulls TV station off the air.
May 6 07- Venezuela's Chavez may move to nationalize banks.


REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS:
Colombia began as the Audiencia or Spanish colonial administrative centre for the Captaincy general of Grenada. Under the Bourbon reforms of 1717-1739, the area was reorganized as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and then was promoted to Captaincy General of New Grenada due to its wealth in gold and self-sufficiency. The entire reorganization was to increase and facilitate the flow of taxes to Spain. The tax pressure culminated in the Communero Revolt of 1781 which united all classes against the Bourbon administrators. Those rebels who were indigenous also held out for the return of their lands. The revolt was crushed when the Creoles, or native-born upper class whites, defected to the Bourbons.
One consequence, however, was the appearance of revolutionary juntas in all the leading cities, the most important junta being that of Caracas which was represented by Simon Bolivar and Francisco Miranda. By 1810, after the Bourbons were removed by Napoleon's invasion of Spain, popular Spanish sovereignty was expressed in the'Cabildos' which began to take power in the main cities. The first popular republic stemming from a Cabildo was Bogota. In 1810, Bolivar and Miranda began the long fight against Spain. First, New Grenada, comprising Caracas and Bogota declared its independence before uniting with Ecuador and Panama as 'Gran Colombia', the seed of Bolivar's dream of a united, independent Latin America. He was elected dictator and president of Gran Colombia in 1819. In 1821, he defeated the Royalists once and for all at Carabobo. However, regional tensions grew between Bogota's President Santander (the draconian 'Man of Laws') and Venezuelan governor Antionio Paez.
In 1827, continuing federalist agitation for a decentralized Gran Colombia was crushed by Bolivar. Santander was sent into exile. But between then and 1830, centrifugal forces prevailed and Gran Colombia disintegrated into the independent republics of Venezuela, New Granada (Bogota) and Ecuador.
In 1832, Santander was called back from exile to be president of New Granada. A stern liberal reformer, Santander's educational and economic reforms were blocked by the Church and conservative interests. In 1840, local revolts against rule by Bogota ended in a two year civil war. The Conservatives prevailed and by 1845, Colombia was ruled by President Tomas Cipriano Mosquera who represented a centralized, conservative government backed by the clergy. Cipriano, a complex person, was in some senses a liberal intellectual and he brought in liberal educational reforms and introduced steam-boats on the rivers, still Colombia's main means of communication.
Cipriano's conservative centralism with its liberal reforms may have contained the seed of Colombia's fate to constantly split and reunite around a political centre for the next century and more. In due course, Cipriano's conservative party split between centralizing liberal intellectual and decentralizing (federal) clerical conservative factions.
In 1850, New Granada was officially renamed Colombia. In 1853- an liberal, anti-clerical constitution was brought in causing the right wing of the Liberals to join the Conservatives in opposition to a Liberal military dictatorship in 1854. In 1857, the conservatives triumphed with the ascent to the presidency of Mariano Ospina who brought in a new constitution only to be overthrown in 1863 by Cipriano at the head of an army. Cipriano was overthrown by a barracks revolt in 1867.
The period of 1867-1880 was a long fractious period of Liberal rule. The Liberals allowed the introduction of Protestant missionaries along with secularizing reforms. It was during this period that Colombia hired the French engineer Ferdinand DeLesseps to dig the Panama Canal and negotiated a deal with Washington to allow U.S. control of the new canal zone. The deal was blocked by the Colombian senate.
In 1880, in another of Colombia's perennial attempts to create a consensus around the political centre, the poet and scholar Rafel Nunez became president, gathered immense power which he used to prevent further rebellions and ruled from his plantation at Caracas. He brought in a federalizing anti-clerical liberal constitution but it was overthrown.
1885 saw the writing of a new constitution which ended the federalist-centralizing struggle by enshrining a strengthened, centralist government. The Conservative hegemony of 1886-1930 produced a more powerful and stable presidency.
In 1899, the 19th century ended in a strange coda to the perennial liberal- conservative battle. Liberal coffee planters revolted in protest against a Conservative move to issue paper money which devalued the peso at a time when world coffee prices had already tumbled. The 'War of the Thousand Days' lasted until 1903.
The controversy over the Panama Canal returned when Bogota refused to lease the canal zone to Washington at the request of US President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt fomented a separatist rebellion in Panama, US warships blocked the arrival of Colombian troops and Panama, under US protection, became independent. After the Conservative dictatorship of the economic and industrial reformer Rafael Reyes, there was another attempt at power-sharing between Liberals and Conservatives.
Colombia's neutrality during World War One, the enriching of its sea ports from trade via the Panama Canal and the granting of concessions on newly discovered oil led to an economic boom that lasted until 1930 when the rigours of the Depression brought in the Liberal administration of Enrique Elaya Herrera. The Liberal hegemony of 1930-1946 expanded industrial development and brought in social welfare. Over the next twenty years, Colombian nationalism, inflamed by US economic expansion, would fire the radical wings of both Liberals and Conservatives but it was till a period of cultural and economic progress.
During the war, Liberal President Alfonso Lopez settled the religious question, for the time being, by subjecting the Catholic Church and its schools to government inspection but in 1945, his anti-clericalism got him replaced by another Liberal Llera Camargo. The Conservarives, meanwhile, feared Liberal tolerance of the left-wing opposition. Camargo atttempted reconciliation but the Liberals split into factions and the pro-clerical Conservatives of Ospina Perez took power in 1946, dissolving the legislature and banning left wing opposition groups. The century old conflict between Liberal secularists and Church-backed Conservatives was reignited and with the assassination of the Liberal, Eleacer Gaitan, 40 years of peace and relative prosperity ended with Colombia's descent into the worst civil strife she had ever known- 'La Violencia'.

LOCATION OF NOTE: THE DESPEJE or DEMILITARIZED ZONE: an area in southeastern Colombia the size of Switzerland was granted to the FARC by President Pastrana in 1998 to build good faith in negotiations. The area lies in the Caguan river basin in the Departments of Caqueta and Meta and the main town is San Vincente del Caguan. The region is heir to the rural violence of the "la Violencia" period (1948-1957) when Liberals tended to hold the capital while the police supported the conservatives and conservative vigilante bands in the countryside. As La Violencia waned in the early 1960s, guerrilla groups inspired by Cuba and Fidel Castro replaced the old 'bandolero' rebels of the civil war. Autonomous "guerrilla republics" were formed in the remote jungles of the South and rebel activity and violence was especially intense in the Llanos or plains north of the Caguan. When government forces drove Manuel Marulanda (later head of FARC) and his "Southern Bloc" guerrillas out of the "Marquetalia" insurgent region in the southern department of La Tolima, they moved eastward to Caguan where they set up the "Riochiquito" rebel zone. In Caguan, the guerrillas started an agrarian movement, political education and self-defense units among the peasants. It was there that they were later formed into FARC.

PROFILE: MANUEL MARULANDA VELEZ nom de guerre of the commander of FARC who is in fragile health and near 80. His real name is Pedro Antonio Marin (he is also known as Tirofijo or 'sureshot' due to his marksmanship) and he was born around 1928 in Quindio Department in west-central Colombia to a peasant family that was aligned with the Liberals during La Violencia. He fought for the Liberal cause but later switched over to the Communist Party guerrillas. Around 1960, he and his cohorts settled in the autonomous rebel region of Marquetalia in the Department of Tolima, south of Bogota. In the wake of the Liberal-Conservative power-sharing pact of 1957, the persistence of autonomous rebel regions was regarded as a danger and the government began to act. In 1960, the founder and chief of the Communist Party of Colombia's guerrilla force was killed by government troops and succeeded by Marulanda. In May, 1964, government troops occupied Marquetalia. Marulanda and remnants of the PCC regrouped and called themselves the Southern Bloc. In 1966, Marulanda re-established the guerrilla group as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). It was staffed by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Marulanda was falsely reported killed on September 14, 1970. In 1998 Conservative candidate Pastrana won the election after Marulanda endorsed his peace proposals and then persuaded Pastrana to give FARC the sanctuary of Caguan- but without giving anything in return. Marulanda proceeded to use the region to fund his 15,000 strong army with the local coca crop. In a January 1999 interview with the Colombian weekly news magazine "Semana," Marulanda said: "We cannot allow our people to continue dying of hunger, without a home, without a car, without a roof over their heads, without education, without health, while others have huge buildings filled with dollars. No. That must be changed. It will not be easy because the confrontation will be with a state that has given nothing and wants to give nothing." On Monday, January 14, Hugo Chavez asked the Colombian government to arrange a meeting between him and Marulanda in an attempt to find a political solution to the conflict; Chavez added that it was also to deprive Washington of any further pretext for its military presence in Colombia.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Columbia is a paradox: relatively functioning democracy and economic stability has been shaken by long periods of political violence. Ideological adherence to political parties (the Liberals and Conservatives), while weak in other Latin American countries has been strong in Colombia. The resulting balance between a liberal financial interest and a landed, Catholic Conservative interest insured economic progress by avoiding the stagnating effect of a one-party state. A constant theme has been the attempt to end the polarization by finding a consensus between those two parties around the political centre which has repeatedly split apart, sometimes violently. Most often, the split was caused by liberal tolerance or encouragement of secular progressvism, Protestantism and left wing political groups in the face of the pro-Catholic conservatives. The end of the 1946-1957 'Violencia' or civil war with a power-sharing agreement between Liberals and Conservatives left the militant left as the only armed opposition. Though the Left no longer divides mainstream society as La Violencia did, the guerilla groups have drawn much of their intractability from persistent poverty in rural areas and support by the drug traffic. Otherwise, Colombia remains united around the mainstream political parties. Three constitutions can be said to be responsible for what political stability Columbia has had: the constitution of 1885 which put an end to federal-centralist wrangling by entrenching a centralized government; the constitution of 1957 which all but ended the civil war by arranging for Liberals and Conservatives to share power by ruling in alternating terms; and the constitution of 1991 which gave the government the legal and executive power to fight the drug barons.

EYE-WITNESS: Reaction to the assassination of Eleacer Gaitan, April 9, 1948: "The day Gaitan was killed, I was gathering guavas in Tulua. The bullets started to fly. Liberals and conservatives started to shoot each other…My uncle; Juan Martin talked to me a lot about him [Gaitan]. He was my idol. When he was killed I was very sad. But I was sadder when I saw my father running to the forest to hide his horse and cart so that it wouldn't be destroyed by the liberals ... The conservative 'pajaros' killed three of my uncles: Daniel, Juan and Antonio Marin. Daniel was assassinated with rifle and machete. He was killed in front of his eleven children."- Ivan Marino Ospina, leader of the guerrilla group, M-19. From Braun, H. The Assassination of Gaitan: public life and urban violence in Colombia The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.p. 198

Account of an execution in 1996 Apartado in nothern Antioquia.
"On Wednesday, August 21 1996 I arrived to an elementary school to assist in a presentation called: 'Let's do together the homework of peace'. When we arrived at the school a little girl told me:
'Mayor, I saw two men painting the walls and they were armed.' - then I asked the teacher: - 'What do you think, should we stay?'
The teacher shrugged. It had become so normal to see people painting walls, and armed. We started to line up the children. I lined up with them. Suddenly, the little girl told me:
'Major, look! Those are they!'
I looked to the street outside and I saw the two young men walking: one with long hair, tall, slim; the other more or less middling, robust. I fell silent, for a second that lasted an eternity, and the girl said- 'They are going to take that boy and they are going to kill him.'
'No, don't worry' - I answered.
It seemed impossible to me that something like that could happen. Then I saw that they took the boy, dragged him to the middle of the street, beat him in the stomach and cut his head off. They took his head and raised it, and I was so horrified, so horrified, that I only recall the little eyes of the children, wide open. I hadn't seen anything like that before…" -Sandoval, M. Gloria Cuartas, Porque no Tiene Miedo, Editorial Planeta, Bogota 1997, p.17

PRESENT SITUATION: President Uribe has come closer to solving the problems of political violence and drug trafficking than any recent president. Nor does the FARC have the broad and deep social roots it once had or the support among the general public. However, its resources are massive and deep poverty in rural Columbia will sustain its ideology. Marulanda knows this and Hugo Chavez is unlikely to get FARC to do anything but continue to drive hard bargains.

PLUS CA CHANGE: In 1982, President Betancur declared an amnesty for left wing guerrillas, freed political prisoners and brought militants into the political system. In 2008, Present Uribe continues to use the same strategy with FARC.

CURIOSITY: Normally, Latin American intellectuals haven't occupied positions of political power.The exception, apparently, is Colombia, where Cipriano Mosquera, known for his versatile intellect held led Colombia in the mid-19th century. Rafel Nunez, also a Conservative was a poet, a scholar and an intellectual who became president in 1880.

TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF COLOMBIA:

European Discovery.

-the region is split north-south by 3 mountains ranges and North-South river valleys. Plateaus at the head of the rivers in the south are inaccessible. Provincial rivalries will continue well into the 20th century.

-Carib Indians; the Choco, Chobcha, Motilon.
1498- on his third expedition, Columbus sights the mouth of Venezuela’s Orinoco River, believing he has discovered not only the East Indies, but the gates to paradise and the Garden of Eden. He proclaims that here “no one can go but by God’s permission.”

1499- Colombia-Venezuela coast or “terra firma” explored by Alonzo de Ojeda and Americo Vespucci.

1509- Spanish arrive in search of slaves and gold.

-founding of Darien in present day southern Panama.

-1533- Pedro de Heredia finds gold, exploring near Bogota

The Earliest Settlements and Audiencias

1536- Popayan founded by Sebastien Benalcazar

1537- Cali founded by Sebastien Benalcazar.

1549- Audiencia established at Santa Fe de Bogota. The audiencia was an adminisrative and executive center which acted as a court of law for several provinces. News Granada itself is the captaincy general for northen South America- one of four governing Spain’s colonies.

1563- Audiencia of Quito (southern Colombia to Ecuador)

1620- a Tribunal of the Inquisition established at Cartagena. In America the inquisition dealt only with offenses within the Church.

Bourbon Reforms to Increase Taxation.

1717-1739- New Granada governed by Spain as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. (Venezuela, New Granada and Quito)

1739- as part of reforms by the Bourbon kings to improve the yield and flow of taxation to Spain, the Captaincy General of Granada is united with the territory of Venezuela.

1739 -New Granada is promoted from Captaincy General to Viceroyalty as a result of its self-sufficiency from Viceroyalties of Peru and Mexico, largely due to its wealth in gold.

-in regions most reorganized for tax reform, like New Granada, all classes, Creoles, Indians and clergy alike rise in frequent rebellion against increased tax pressure.

The Communero Tax Revolt

1781- the Communero Revolt- under the Spanish ‘right of revolt’ against royal injustices, Mestizos, planters and Indians of Sorocco region rise up against Bourbon administrative measures involving expropriation to extract more tax from tobacco growers. Several thousand rebels march on Bogota, where there is sympathy from the Creoles who share a dislike of the Bourbons. The bishop and clergy persuade them to relent. But insurgents and Indians continue to hold out for the return of their lands. Jose Antionio Galan rises to lead the continuing rebellion. The Creoles eventually go over to the Bourbon administrators and the revolt is crushed.

-revolutionary juntas are proclaimed in various cities in New Granada- but the most radical is in Caracas, represented by Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda.

The Cabildos: Popular Sovereignty against Napoleon.

-1810- in response to Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and upsetting of the Spanish monarchy, Cabildos, or districts of popular sovereignty, begin to take power in Venezuela and New Grenada on behalf of a sovereign Spain.

-the first Republic, based on Bogota, is so theoretical it is nicknamed “La Patria Boba.”

Bolivar Sets up a Junta: War of Independence

1810- Francisco de Miranda starts a movement against Spanish rule, deposes the capitain-general ruling on behalf of Napoleon and Simon Bolivar sets up a junta.

1812- Bolivar takes refuge in Gran Colombia when Venezuela is lost back to Spain.

1812- an earthquake hinders the cause of the patriots and helps the royalists. The rebels relent and sign a peace treaty. Believing that Miranda had collaborated with the royalists, Bolivar and his followers hand Miranda over to imprisonment in Spain. Bolivar takes refuge with revolutionaries in Cartagena.

1813- Aug. 6- Bolivar's new army marches from Cartagena and retakes Caracas.

1815- Spanish forces overthrow the Bogota republic of “la Boba”


New Granada in an Independent Gran Colombia.

1819-1830- “New Granada” gets its independence before uniting with Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. In the Union of Gran Colombia.

1819- from the central plains of Venezuela, Bolivar takes his army into Colombia.

1819- Bolivar is elected dictator and president of the liberated areas. He campaigns into the Andes and defeats Spanish forces at Boyaca. He creates the state of Gran Colombia which includes Venezuela and all of northern South America.

1819- Dec. Colombia is declared independent

Victory of Bolivar at Carabobo.

-Bolivar marches through the passes south of Cali on the upper Cuaca, takes Popayan and Pasto.

1821- June- Bolivar defeats Royalists at Carabobo.

-Congress of Cucuta, Bolivar is declared president of Gran Colombia comprising New Granada, Quito and Venezuela with the capital at Bogota.

1821- Bolivar formally inaugurates the confederation of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador as Gran Columbia but Venezuela is an unwilling participant.

-Francisco de Santander is given administration of New Granada. Severe and remote he is known as “the Man of Laws.”

Resistance to Bolivar’s Gran Colombia.

1821- the capital of Gran Colombia is set up at Cucuta on the Colombia-Venezuela border. Immediately there is tgension between Gran Colombia’s Santander and Venezuela’s Paez.

1822- Antonio Jose de Sucre defeats Royalist forces at Pichincha, liberating Ecuador.

1825- although slavery has been abolished in most republics, it continues in places where there are plantation economies, like Colombia.

1827- Convention of Ocana- federalists, who were opposed to the union of Gran Colombia are overthrown and Bolivar becomes dictator.

1829- the collapse of Gran Colombia

-Santander is exiled for trying to kill Bolivar.


The Collapse or Gran Colombia

-Caracas breaks away from Bogota to become the capital of Venezuela.

1830- Ecuadorian leader Juan Jose Flores convenes a cabildo abierto by which Ecuador secedes from Gran Colombia

-Quito breaks away from Colombia to become the capital of Ecuador.

1832- Ecuador's Juan Jose Flores tries and fails to take Popayan Province by conquest from Colombia. But he gains the Galapagos islands.

1830-1835 Venezuela led by Paez, Landowners hold the power.

Liberals in Power Under Santander.

1832- Santander is called back from exile to be president of Colombia. He heads the Liberal party but popular outcry blames him for administrative chaos and he clamps down on all opposition. Conservatives loyal to the Church from the provinces of Popayan and Pasto block his liberal educational and economic reforms.

-ecclesiastic and military resistance to Santander results in civil war. Pedro Alcantara Herran becomes president.

1840- Santander, ill and dying in opposition gives a last speech in defense of his policies.

Progress under Cipriano and the Conservatives.

1843- Herran and his successor Mosquera bring in a new constitution. The Conservatives come to power.

1845- Centralism and Church power are together represented by the Conservatives under dictator Tomas Cipriano de Mosquera.

-though a Conservative from Popayan, Cipriano Mosquera has a highly versatile intellect, is philosophically liberal and forward thinking. He brings in liberal education reforms, introduces steam boats on the Magdalena.

-Cipriano Mosquera signs a treaty allowing the US to build a railway across the Isthmus of Panama.

-Mariano Ospina, one of Cipriano’s ministers, builds the city of Medellin and develops it into a successful center for coffee growing.

The Gap between pro-clerical Conservatives and anti-Clerical Liberals widens.

1849- Cipriano’s Conservatives split over disagreements with the Liberal intellectual elite over religious reforms. The Conservatives are forced out of power.

-Indians of upper Magdalena River make war on white men exploring for oil.

-chronic strife between anti-clerical Liberals and pro-clerical Conservatives. The central, enduring struggle in Colombia, firstly between Centralism and Federalism; and secondly between an all-powerful Church and freedom of religion will result altogether in over 100 insurrections and civil wars.

-the Liberals tend to by industry-minded urban Centralists. The Conservatives Church-minded rural Federalists.

1850- New Granada is officially re-named Colombia.

1850- Clayton-Bulwer Treaty- no nation is to have exclusive control of any canal built across Panamanian isthmus

Liberal Dictatorship.

1853- liberal, federalistic anti-clerical constitution is brought in. Separation of Church and state is threatened. Liberal military dictatorship takes power.

1854- The right wing of the Liberals splits to join the Conservatives and the Church against a military dictatorship.

Conservative and clerical triumph with election of Conservative Ospina

1857-1860- Mariano Ospina becomes Conservative president.

-the deeply religious Mariano Ospina drafts the “Granadine” constitution, bringing Church and state into an alliance. It is Federalistic, devolving power to the countryside.

Anti-clerical Cipriano returns and seizes power.

1863- former dictator Cipriano Mosquera, at the head of the army, overthrows the new constitution.

-Cipriano Mosquera’s new constitution is anti-clerical and devolves enormous power to outlying regions- referring to the nation as “the United States of Colombia.”

-internecine guerilla war ensues between the provinces and the capital.

-Mosquera fights a border war with Ecuador in an attempt to recreate Gran Colombia.

1867- Cipriano Mosquera is overthrown in a Bogota army revolt and sent into exile.

Fall of Cipriano. Liberals encourage Protestantism.

1867-1880- Liberals maintain a rule shaken by violence and revolts.

-Liberals allow Protestant missionaries to set up among Llanero ranchers in the highlands and later among jungle rubber workers because Church has no social programs.

1876- Liberal party split between moderates and radicals who promote freedom of worship and of education. The Church feels threatened and prompts an armed uprising. The victors are a coalition of moderate liberals and conservatives.

Colombia Blocks US rights to DeLesseps Canal in Panama.

-$10 million paid by DeLesseps to dig the the Panama Canal is used to pay off the debt incurred by the civil war.

1878- US resents DeLesseps deal with Colombia. But France is forced out by tropical conditions, French firm sells its rights to the US.

-US and Colombian foreign minister Herran make a deal by which the US pays a sum and annual fee for rights to canal zone. Regional elements in Colombian senate block passage of deal.


Strong Rule by Moderate Nunez.

1880 –a moderate ruling coalition is named the National Party and comes to power backed by the Conservatives and the Church headed by President Rafael Nunez- a poet, scholar and intellectual. So powerful, he rules from his plantation at Cartagena.

Nunez’ use of force in preventing further outbreaks of civil war earns him the nickname “the Regenerator.”

1885- Cipriano’s federalizing anti-clerical constitution is overthrown and a new constitution is written, enshrining stability through central authority. The old federalist-centralist struggle is finally reconciled.

1886-1930 -a Conservative hegemony strengthens the presidency.

1894- Nunez dies.


War of the Thousand Days over Low Coffee prices.

1899-1903- the War of a Thousand Days between Liberals and Conservatives takes 100,000 lives.

-it erupts because Liberal-backed coffee planters suffering from falling world price of coffee only to have the Conservative in power devalue the peso with paper money

-Conservatives were united as nationaliss while the Liberal forces were split between peace and war factions.

1900- May 25- Liberals defeated at Palonegro in Thousand Days’ War.

1900-1902- war degenerates into widespread guerilla attacks.


As U.S. Interferes, Panama Secedes.

-Panama an isolated province of Colombia

1901- Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850 is abrogated.

1901-1902- US is trying to negotiate with Colombia for Panama.

1902- June 12- Conservatives offer amnesty and reformes to end the Thousand days war.

-November- Liberals agree to a peace settlement with Conservatives to end war of Thousand Days.

1903- Colombia refuses to give Theodore Roosevelt the lease necessary to build the Panama Canal. After a local revolt breaks out on Panama City and Panama is declared an independent republic. US warships block Colombian troops sent to prevent the separation. Colombia was too weakened by the 1000 days war to resist.

1903- Rafael Reyes, strong man emerging from the turbulence of 1903- and holds the presidency from 1904-1909.

-Reyes was a dictator supported by a bloc of landowners and officers but he was an economic reformer and railroad builder.

1909- the Reyes-controlled assembly extends his term in office. That and his handling of Panama negotiations gets him forced out and sent to exile in Europe.

Peace and an Economic Boom.

-Succeeding Conservative regime extends power-sharing to Liberals.

-Colombia prospering from Panama canal because her west and north coasts are both accessible to ocean freight

-WW I- Colombia neutral so it’s enriched by trade.

1922- US President Harding improves relations with Colombia at behest of US oil which wants to drill there. US pays Colombia 25 million for loss of Panama.

1920-1930- economic boom and progress in cofeee, oil, Medellin makes Cuaca valley an industrial center and a Conservative region.

-Cali becomes a Liberal stronghold.

1922-26- President Pedro Nel Ospina.

-Colombian oil boom.

1926-1930- President Miguel Abadia Mendez.

Liberals return with the Depression and Economic Crisis.

1930- the Depression brings a slowdown on top of increase in illiterate labouring class. Conservatives lose hold on power to Liberals.

1930-1946- a Liberal hegemony brings about industrial expansion and social welfare.

1930- Liberal President Enrique Olaya Herrera promises social reform.

-President Herrera and Lopez and Sanchez who follow him are journalists and intellectuals.

1930-1950- nationalism radicalizes the extremes of the Liberals and Conservatives but at the same time Colombia is seen as progressive and cultured.

1932- Peruvian army sends detachment to expel inhabitants from disputed, remote border settlement of Leticia. After a short war, international arbitration gives the town back to Colombia.

Liberal Lopez tries to Secularize Colombia.

1934- Liberal President Alfonso Lopez.

1934-1940- Liberals bring about ecnomic recovery, settle the Church question.

1936- Liberals under Lopez bring in a new constitution wich subjects Church schools to government inspectors and charities to gov’t regulation.

-gov’t is economically left-leaning.

-but nationalism, economic progress and rapprochement with US brings back conservative mood.

1938-1942- President Eduardo Sanchez

WW II- 1942- Lopez re-elected.

-Pearl Harbour- Liberals abandon Germany and Nazi business interests and nationalize a German airline seen as a threat to the Panama canal.

1942-1943- negotiations with Ecuador and pero revivie dreams of Gran Colombia.

1943- November- Colombia declares war on the Axis.

-economic progress continues.

1945- Lopez is forced out due to his anti-clericalism. His term is completed by succcessor Llera Camargo. Camargo tries to restore national unity but Liberals have split into two factions.

Pro-Clerical, anti-Protestantism with Conservative Ospina.

1946- Conservatives return to power with the religious, pro-clerical Ospina Perez. Perez dissolves the legislature and outlaws left wing opposition groups.

-Protestants seen to provoke outrage by celebrating services near Catholic churches. And attacking Catholic teaching. This turns many moderate liberals against religious freedom.

The Rise and Assassination of Radical Populist Eleacer Gaitan.

-Left-Liberal Minister of Education Gaitan- his oratory is seen by Conservatives as inflammatory. Jorge Eleacer Gaitan demagogic- supported striking banana workers and landless peasants and industrial workers

1948- April 9- at pan-Latin American meeting to hear US Gen. George marshall-- Gaitan is assassinated. Bogota is taken over by rioting. Gaitan supporters lynch the assassin. Gov’t bames the tiny Communist Party. These riots, known as the ‘Bogotazo’ let loose the civil war, ‘La Violencia’

-newspaper office of Conservative paper owner Laureano Gomez is burned in riots.

La Violencia Begins- Guerillas set up in the Provinces.

-a Liberal-Conservative coalition government is formed to stop the violence. But in fall, 1948 a guerilla group starts in the provinces.

-Gaitan, in death, becomes the moving spirit of the poor.

-Protestantism increasingly seen as a heretical and foreign influence. Protestant missions and other establishments attacked all over.

1948-55- ‘La Violencia’. Civil war between Liberals and Conservatives.

-Ospina moves further to the right.

1950- Ospina defeated in elections.

Right-Wing, anti-Protestant Demagogue Laureano Gomez.

1950 -arch-Catholic Laureano Gomez, ultra-rightist leader of the Conservatives is an admirer of Franco.

1950-53- Liberal Protestants attacked by Conservatives in rioting and terror. Gomez personalizes the army.

1952- 12,000 killed in guerilla fighting.

1953- upper class kids destroy a Liberal newspaper plant and burn home of former president Alfnso Lopez.

-Laureano Gomez declares a state of seige- as guerillas set up in the hills. Language of Communism and Fascism is used.

-Gomez takes emergency powers.

-Conservative Party splits; country descends into chaos.

Rojas Pinilla takes power at head of Moderate Coalition.

1953- June- Coalition between center Liberals and center conservatives to bring order. General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, at head of moderate part of the army and backed by the Church makes a truce with guerillas in the mountains, lifts censorship and reassures Liberals.

June 13- Pinilla forms a provisional government.

1955- Rojas Pinilla becomes oppressive as rightist guerillas attack Protestant missionaries.

1957- Pinilla has risen to become the wealthiest cattleman in the country- sending money abroad for security. His regime riddled with corruption.

-Rojas Pinilla tries to extend his term limit. Banking and commercial strike provokes army to turn against him.

Fall of Pinilla- ‘National Front’ Power-Sharing Formula.

May 10- Pinilla forced to resign. But his own military junta appoints Gabriel Paris as provisional president. Junta stops persecution of Protestants and allows Potestant missionaries to enter country again. Paris consults with Liberal leader, Alberto Lleras Camargo

- Camargo creates a formula for Liberal-Conservative power-sharing between local and national Liberal and Conservarive leaders. According to an article in the constitution, Liberal and Conservative parties take power alternately term for term. This allows from some stability and the US Alliance For Progress program makes some headway, where it fails in most other countries. Colombia in debt; peso falls.

Dec, 1957- Camargos’ formula is voted through the assembly. The power-sharing deal is known as “The National Front”. All other political parties are banned.

1958- May- Carmargo elected president, inaugurated amid huge celebrations, Aug. 18.

-Camargo brings in economic austerity.

1959- Rojas Pinilla convicted of using his office to enrich himself. Booted out of the army, stripped of his rights.

1960- Caribbean ports are still a week down river from Bogota- except by air. Population is 13 million.

1962- Guillermo Leon Valencia elected president.

-‘La Violencia’ continues in rural areas.

New left Wing Guerilla groups of the 1960s.

-La Violencia gives way to a formal, left wing, rural insurgency. In the end, la Violencia has cost 2 to 300,000 lives.

1965- the leftist ELN, the Naltional Liberation Army and the PLN, the Maoist People’s Liberation Army are formed.

1965- Camilo Torres- a left wing guerrilla priest from an upper class family issues a radical manifesto.

1966- founding of FARC - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia.

1966- Torres is killed by the Colombian army.

1966-70- Carlos Llegas Restrepo- a democratic reformer is president.

Old Liberal-Conservative establishment opposed by new Left.

1970- foundation of the National People’s Alliance- to oppose the National Front.

1971- Leftist M-19 guerilla group is formed.

1970-1990- in rural areas the problems of ‘La Violencia’ never really abate..

1960-1980- after Brazil and Mexico, Colombia shows the strongest economic growth

1978- Liberal President Julio Turbay takes on drug traffickers.

1979- Ecuador: military rule is forced to give way to democratically elected government with a new constitution..

Rise of the Narcotrafficantes

1980s- the narcotics traffic in Columbian cocaine produces two immensely powerful drug cartels in Medellin and Cali. They become sufficiently powerful through car bombings and other attacks to exercise a direct threat to the Colombian government.

1982- President Betancur declares an amnesty for guerillas, brings Left wing groups into the sustem and frees political prisoners. With the left-wing insurgencies under control, the in increasing danger of the drug traffic looms.

1984- Justice minister murdered by drug traffickers- the campaign against the drug traffic increases.

1985- the M-19 forces its way into the Palace of Justice killing 11 judges and 9 other people.

1985- Patriotic Union Party founded.

Rise of Right-Wing Paramilitaries.

1986- Liberal, Virgilio Barco Vargas elected president. Right wing extremists launch murder campaign against the Patriotic Union Party. Drug cartels employ paramilitary death squads.

-eruption of Nevada del Ruiz volcano kills 25,000.

1989- M-19 is legalized as a political party after talks with the government.

Gavaria elected to fight Drug Lords.

1990- Cesar Gaviria Trujillo elected president. Liberal and UP candidates murdered during elections by the drug cartels. Cesar Gvaria is elected to fight the drug barons.

1991- New constitution legalizes divorce, bans extradition of wanted Columbians to other countries; guarantees rights of indigenous peoples but does not mention their territorial claims. However it empowe3rs the state and judiacary in their fight against the drug cartels.

1992- state of emergency.

1993- drug baraon Pablo Escobar is killed by police.

1995- Ernesto Samper Piszano elected president. He is cleared of receiving drug money in his election campaign. But corruption from drug money is widespread within the government.

1998- Ecuador- a drop in the price of oil and austerity measures imposed by the IMF produces social instability.

President Pastrana begins talks with FARC

-left-wing insurgencies and right-wing paramilitaries are both funded by the drug trade.

1998- Andres Pastrana Arango elected President- begins talks with FARC.

1998- Pastrana grants FARC a large safe haven in the south east.

1999- FARC chief Manuel Marulanda and Pastrana hold desultory peace talks.

2000- July- under ‘Plan Colombia’ Pastrana gets almost 1 billion from the US to fight the drug trade and its rebel supporters.

2001- June- FARC releases captured police and soldiers in exchange for rebel prisoners. The government accuses FARC of using its safe haven to re-arm.

Oct.- Gov’t and FARC sign San Franciso agreement for ceasefire. Safe Haven is extended until January, 2002.

2002- Feb- Pastrana extends the safe haven til Apri

Peace talks with FARC collapse.

2002- 20 Feb. In response to a plane hijacked by FARC, Pastrana calls off peace talks and declares war on the rebels’ safe zone.

-May- Independent, Avaro Uribe- makes way toward winning elections. Vows to crack down on FARC
.
-August- Uribe sworn in amidst bombings allegedly by FARC.

President Uribe cracks down on FARC.

2003 -October- Uribe’s austerity measures and reforms rejected by assembly. Several ministers resign.

November- right wing paramilitary United Self Defence Forces of Columbia (AUC) begin to lay down their arms.

2004- highly placed FARC leader Ricardo Palmera is captured by army, imprisoned.

July- AUC and government begin peace talks.

2005- January- -dispute with Venezuela about the capture of a FARC leader on Venezuelan soil. It is resolved in Caracas in February.

Government negotiates to Demobilize Paramilitaries

June- shorter jail terms and protection from extradition for paramilitaries who turn themselves in.

December ELN, (National Liberation Army) second biggest rebel force, and government begin peace talks in Cuba.

2006- March- Colombia and US have free trade deal in principal.

Ecuador- campaigning for president, left-leaning Rafael Correa declares a policy of non-involvement in Columbia's internal troubles with FARC.

March- Uribe wins landslide in elections for the assembly.

May- Uribe re-elected.

August- Ecuador's Correa declares that he is not part of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution though he is freinds with Hugo Chavez.

October- Ecuador's Correa announces he will pursue and capture an FARC guerrillas crossing onto Ecuadorian soil. He condemns FARC's kidnapping and human rights violations.

November- court investigates links between provincial politicians in Sucre and paramilitaries.

December- disarmament of paramilitaries continues despite the withdrawal of some from peace talks.

Ecuador- December- Ecuador-left-leaning Rafael Correa wins presidential election in neighbouring Ecuador.


Struggle to Release Hostages held by FARC.

2007- June- Government releases FARC captives but FARC does not reciprocate, demanding instead that the military pull back and set up a new demilitarized zone.

July- hundreds of thousands protest continued chaos and violence in the country.

Sept. Hugo Chavez offers to talk to FARC about releasing hostages.

November- President Uribe sets December 21 as the deadline for Chavez to bring off a prisoner exchange.

-Chaves withdraws the Venezuelan ambassador from Bogota in a dispute with Uribe who prohibits Chavez from making direct contact in his role as negotiator with the FARC

-2008- January- Chaves’s hostage negations with FARC fall through when it is discovered that one of the hostages, a young boy, is actually in foster care in Bogota. Colombia accuses FARC of a fraudulent attempt to obtain the release of prisoners in exhange.

–January 11- priority hostages Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzales are released due to the intervention and negotiations of Venezuela’s Chavez. Chavez asks that the world cease labeling the FARC a terrorist group. Uribe replies that the Farc fits the definition because it attacks innocent civilians.

March- in a cross-border raid, Colombia kills senior FARC leader Raul Reyes. Data on Reyes' computer allegedly reveals contacts between FARC rebels and the Ecuadorian President. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, in protest of Columbia's incursion into Venezuala's ally, Ecuador, moves tanks and troops to the Colombian border.
Post a Comment