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Colombia

Yearbook 1997

Colombia. According to Countryaah, President Ernesto Samper Pizano began the year declaring the country in financial distress. The following emergency measures were taken: a reduction of government expenditure by the equivalent of DKK 900 million. dollars, a ceiling for state wage increases of 13% and a number of tax increases. When a general strike among the civil servants threatened to break out at the end of February, the president agreed to a salary increase of 20%.

The two guerrilla movements operating in Colombia reminded their presence. The FARC guerrilla, the larger of the movements, reportedly killed 16 soldiers at the beginning of the year and the ELN guerrilla killed five police officers. To this, the government, after first changing the Minister of Defense on two occasions, responded by inviting guerrillas to peace talks. The FARC responded that "peace is not obtained through decrees, it is built". The government then demilitarized a large jungle area. FARC's reaction was to release 70 captured government soldiers in the presence of an assembled world press. This led to a proposal by the President during the summer on the establishment of a National Peace Commission.

At the end of August, the FARC agreed to negotiations with the government, while the ELN guerrilla chose not to do so. Peace negotiations stalled during the autumn when the only viable route from different directions, including from the country's two largest parties, the archbishop and author Gábriel Gárcia Marquez, were considered to be the president's resignation first.

In an attack on an army base by the FARC guerrillas at the end of December, 22 government soldiers were killed and seven captured. The local elections in late October were won by the ruling Liberal Party PL (Partido Liberal), which gained a majority in 19 of 32 electoral areas. The Conservative Party PSC (Partido Social Conservador Colombiano) won in four electoral districts and the party won the mayor's post in the country's second largest city Medellín.

Other important issues in Colombia during the year were the cultivation of coca leaves and the trafficking of cocaine, the possibility of extraditing persons suspected of illicit trafficking in drugs and the issue of human rights. All three of these domestic policy issues were initiated in an interaction between demands for measures from the United States in particular and the difficult economic situation in Colombia.

1997 Colombia

1983 Peace talks

The guerrillas - especially the FARC and the M-19 - were subjected to intense government action by Julio C. Turbay Ayala (1978-1982). In 1982, the conservative Belisario Betancur was elected president. He was a journalist, poet, humanist and had actively participated in drafting peace proposals for resolving the conflicts in Central America. He joined Colombia in the Alliance Free Movement, defended the debt-plagued developing countries' interests and their right to collective bargaining with the lenders, and in 1983 began peace negotiations with the M-19 guerrilla.

In 1980, M-19's head Jaime Bateman had proposed conducting a summit in Panama to discuss the crisis in Colombia and its solutions, but Bateman died in a mysterious "plane crash" and negotiations were suspended. At the same time, the FARC entered into an agreement with government envoys. According to the agreement, the fighting had to be stopped and a number of steps had to be taken politically, socially and economically. But the landlords opposed this government-guerrilla dialogue. The landowners made up only 4% of the farmers, but controlled 67% of the arable land. They criticized the peace efforts as "concessions to the guerrillas" and suggested the establishment of private armies. The paramilitary activities resumed and the landlords created Muerte a los Secuestradores (MAS, Death of the Abductors) in response to the government army withdrawal from the guerrilla areas. Still, peace efforts continued. A ceasefire was initiated to extend over 1 year, but after 5 months the M-19 withdrew from the agreement because the military did not comply with the agreements.

In January 1985, the government implemented an economic restructuring program to curb the crisis, which led to a fall in real wages and more frequent devaluations. Public spending was reduced, oil and transport prices were raised and taxes were raised. The goal was to give exports higher priority and reduce the state's $ 2 billion budget deficit by 30%. The plan was rejected by the trade unions, the left-wing parties, and the international lenders were not satisfied either. A group of 14 banks led by the North American Chemical Bank demanded that the government sign an agreement on its financial goals and enter into a formal agreement with the IMF. These were two steps the Betancur government wanted to avoid.

 

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