Policy paper on involving Colombia’s victims abroad in the truth commission

Victims of the armed conflict in Colombia are spread all over the globe. Even more important it will be to hear their voices – and thus their experiences – within the framework of the truth commission (CEV) in Colombia. It was a pleasure to compile this short policy paper with Andrei Gomez and Gwen Burnyeat for Rodeemos el Diálogo and hopefully the lessons learned from five other cases can be useful for the Colombian truth commission. Check out the document here.


23 short reflections of living in Bogotá for three years

Unbelievable but true. Already since October 2013, I have the pleasure and adventure to live in the capital of Colombia, Bogotá. In this article I reflect about my general impressions that I have had:

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Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

Colombia will create a truth commission. The Colombian government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC decided on 4 June 2015 to set up a body that should clarify major human rights violations committed by all sides. It should reveal past atrocities, recognize the victims and make sure that these kinds of crimes will not be repeated in the future. While a big step forward, many challenges remain ahead. Continue reading “Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations”

Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes”

Over the period of seven months, I was part of “Somos CaPAZes”, an NGO consisting of students and young professionals who work with disadvantaged children in Bogotá. More precisely, we worked in peace education in Ciudad Bolívar, the poorest part of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. Continue reading “Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes””

Why peace is ideological in Colombia

Peace is not aspired by everyone in Colombia, despite the fact that the country is living in historic times to bring its civil war to an end, which has caused more than 220,000 deaths and 6,864,934 victims (mostly displaced people). In fact, the debate about peace is an ideological battle between the left and the right. Many armed actors are involved in violence, intimidation and in drug trafficking. However, the ideological view usually allows just a limited perspective one has on the conflict.
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Decision between war and peace in Colombia

The first round in the Colombian presidential elections brought the two favorites into a run-off that will take place on 15 June 2014. However, it was quite surprising that it was Iván Óscar Zuluaga who gained almost 30% while incumbent Juan Manuel Santos only obtained 25% of the votes. Considering the fact that just half a year ago Zuluaga was basically unknown among Colombians and Santos was able to use all the state machinery in his favor, this first round certainly was a surprise. Now, the run-off will decide between war and peace in Colombia. Continue reading “Decision between war and peace in Colombia”

Presenting the six Colombian presidential candidates

The political climate in Colombia is poisoned. The race for the highest post in Colombian politics is mostly influenced by a person who is not even running, former president Álvaro Uribe. The battle between president-candidate Juan Manuel Santos and Óscar Zuluaga, the puppet of Uribe who is today the arch enemy of Santos, is characterized by dirty campaigning and startling accusations against each other. However, in total there are six candidates in the race (including a non-existing one) to be the next president. This blog post will present all of them. Continue reading “Presenting the six Colombian presidential candidates”

Colombia’s left not wanted in politics

The former mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro. He was kicked out of office on 20 March 2014. (c) Wikipedia

It was like a telenovela, a Colombian soap opera. The fight between the mayor of Bogotá and the country’s powerful inspector general has dominated the headlines in Colombia since early December 2013. It was, as the New York Times put it, “an absurdist drama in which two actors alternately fascinate and irritate their audience with squabbling, philosophizing and the occasional kick in the pants.” On 20 March 2014, however, the leftist mayor was removed from office by Colombia’s president and is barred from public office for 15 years. This decision has not only an impact on local politics in Colombia’s capital but also on the peace process on Cuba between the Colombian government and the FARC. Continue reading “Colombia’s left not wanted in politics”

Colombia on the crossroads after parliamentary elections

Voto en blanco (c) commons.wikipedia.org
The actual "winner" of the elections are the 63% who did not vote for a party. (c) commons.wikipedia.org
The actual “winner” of the elections are the 72% who did not vote for a party. (c) commons.wikipedia.org

It was an exciting race in front of the screen. On Sunday, 32.8 million Colombians had to the chance to head to the polls to elect the lower and upper house of parliament. Colombian commentators declared ex-president Álvaro Uribe as the winner of the elections with his newly created party Centro Democrático gained 14.3% although his success might have been too little to stop the peace process with the FARC.
Continue reading “Colombia on the crossroads after parliamentary elections”