How peace leads to violence
The war against FARC is over—but peace has yet to come to the areas once controlled by the leftist rebel group, said Salomón Kalmanovitz. A peace accord signed in 2016 ended decades of conflict between FARC and the Colombian army. It also opened up a “power vacuum” in former FARC-dominated areas that the state has not managed to fill. Ex–FARC members, narcotraffickers, and the Marxist ELN militia have taken advantage of that opening and are “trying to replace community leaders and organizers with new ones loyal to their interests.” Since the accord was signed, some 180 local leaders have been killed in former FARC territory—more than half of those in the past six months. The victims tend to be “members of relatively powerless groups,” such as indigenous tribes, peasant groups, and environmental organizations. Anyone with any local clout is a target, particularly anyone whose protests might threaten the militants’ drug crops or mining interests. The killings also “undermine the legitimacy of the peace accord,” a treaty that has many powerful enemies, including President-elect Iván Duque. He and other “politicians who stoke violence with their incendiary discourse” are only making matters worse. Peace in Colombia remains a distant dream.