• United States Institute of Peace, Colombia Forum, September 30th

    Historical Memory and Transitional Justice in Colombia



    Historical Memory and Transitional Justice in Colombia

    Forum Examines Key Report on Colombia’s War
    In the past year of peace talks, the Colombian government and the FARC have been negotiating how to address rights of the victims to truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition. The parties recently created a working group on transitional justice, and have made progress on these complex issues. The next event in USIP’s Colombia Peace Forum series, on September 30, will analyze the role of historical memory in relation to these transitional justice issues. This has been one of the most difficult areas of negotiations.

    Authors of Basta Ya! Colombia:  Memories of War and Dignity, produced by Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory, will present their findings for the first time to a U.S. audience. Joined by academics and practitioners, they will examine lessons from this initiative that might contribute to the design and implementation of the national truth commission currently being crafted as part of the peace process in Havana.

    The event will be co-sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America, the International Center for Transitional Justice and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The discussions will take place in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation in both languages. The event will be streamed live without interpretation; webcasts will be posted later in both languages.

    To participate via Twitter, use the hashtag #ColombiaPeaceForum.


    • Virginia M. Bouvier
      Senior Advisor on Latin America Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace
    • David Tolbert
      President, International Center for Transitional Justice
    • Juan Méndez
      Washington College of Law, American University, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
    • Kimberly Theidon
      Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies, Fletcher School, Tufts University
    • Cynthia Arnson
      Director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    • Lisa Laplante
      Associate Professor of Law, New England Law, and Director, Center for International Law and Policy
    • Alejo Vargas
      Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional- Colombia
    • Adam Isacson 
      Senior Associate for Regional Security Policy, Washington Office on Latin America
    • Andrés Suárez
      Lead Researcher, National Center for Historical Memory
    • Martha Nubia Bello
      Lead Researcher, National Center for Historical Memory, and Director, National Museum of Memory, Center for Historical Memory
    • Anthony Wanis- St. John
      Associate Professor, American University
    • David Crocker
      Senior Research Scholar, University of Maryland- College Park
    • Elizabeth “Lili” Cole
      Senior Program Officer, Center for Applied Research on Conflict, U.S. Institute of Peace

  • Colombia Peace Forum: Paths to Reintegration


    Peace negotiators seeking to end Colombia’s five-decade-long conflict are beginning to tackle the final issues, including how to reintegrate former insurgents into civilian life. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace on Jan. 29 in a discussion of this vexing question with experts including a former negotiator at the peace talks in Havana.

    Photo Credit: The Real Estreya/Flickr

    As the parties in the talks prepare for their 32nd round of negotiations in early February, the key remaining issues to be resolved focus on establishing processes that ensure victims of the war will be able to secure their rights to truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees that violations won’t be repeated. Another challenge regards negotiating how former combatants and their associates will make the transition back to civilian life, a process known as demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR).

    Two panels at this Colombia Peace Forum on Paths to Reintegration will analyze the successes and pitfalls of DDR processes from around the world, lessons from Colombia’s past reintegration efforts, and policy recommendations in a new report from the International Crisis Group (Read the report).

    The program will feature:

    • Virginia M. Bouvier
      Senior Advisor for Latin American Programs, United States Institute of Peace
    • Alejandro Eder
      Former High Commissioner for Reintegration
      Former Alternative Plenipotentiary at the Havana Peace Talks
    • Mark Schneider
      Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America, International Crisis Group
    • Susan Reichle (Invited)
      Counselor, U.S. Agency for International Development
      Former Head of Mission, USAID in Colombia
    • Daniel Millares (TBD)
      Mission to Support the Peace Process, Organization of American States
    • Kimberly Theidon
      Senior Fellow, Latin America Program,  Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
    • Adam Isacson
      Senior Associate for Regional Security Policy, Washington Office on Latin America
    • Julie Werbel
      Senior Security Sector Reform Advisor, U.S. Agency for International Development

    Video of the event:


  • Public Opinion and the Peace Process in Colombia

    Woodrow Wilson Center, Latin American Studies Program, May 4, 2015.   http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/PublicOpinionColombia

  • Reconstructing Masculinities: The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Former Combatants in Colombia


  • Excellent update on the land restitution issue in Colombia

    Far_from_the_Promised_Land Far_from_the_Promised_Land


  • Media coverage of social protests in Colombia…or Peru…or Brasil…or fill-in-the-blanks…


  • El paro campesino…la tierra no se vende!

  • La Loma, Medellín, Colombia

    June 16th, 2013

    Yesterday I was in La Loma, a comuna perched on the verdant hills above Medellín.  Last month los BACRIM — nebulous, ill-defined, lethally armed criminal groups — swept through the town, giving people 48 hours to pack up and leave.  Some people did flee, especially those families with young men at risk of appearing on the hit lists.  People carried out what they could, and one photo sparked particular outrage. The soldiers were walking in pairs down the steep slopes from La Loma, AK 47s strapped around their chests in order to free up their arms to carry a dozen mattresses down the steep sides of the mountains.  What to make of soldiers participating in the collective flight rather than protecting people so that they could stay in the homes they had carefully constructed over several decades? Some people took out machetes and hacked up their furniture, determined not to leave anything for the BACRIM who would soon move into their “abandoned” homes.  Others roasted chickens all night long, compelled by a steadfast refusal to let their animals end up in the bellies of the very people who were forcing them to flee.

    But not everyone left.  Some families sent their young people to the relative safety of Medellín, leaving behind a striking contrast of pre-adolescent children and elderly women, some alone in their homes and insisting they would die there before anyone could make them leave.  Doñas Dolores, María, Angélica — their homes carefully swept, family photos hanging from the walls, Jesús bleeding on the cross, flower pots full of defiantly blossoming orchids: house after house, widows invited us in to sit for awhile and talk through their audacious decision to remain in La Loma.

    And those young children, especially the little boys, crowded around with questions about life in the Estados Unidos, life somewhere far away. I spoke at length with a group of 10-12 year old boys, full of life and so eager to exchange Facebook names and send our friend requests.  I was struck by their sweetness and curiosity about the world, and cried the entire way back to my hotel.  I had not done that in awhile.  I realize that in a couple of years, most of them will have been forced into one of the armed groups, forced to leave their families behind, or killed for refusing to take up a gun.  Their faces took me back a decade to my first trip to Urabá and the pueblos I visited as we traveled the length of Río Atrato and Río Sucio.  Guerrillas from the FARC would pass through, carefully sizing up the adolescent boys.  They watched for the brightest, the most outgoing, “los más habiles.”  They were just waiting for them to grow up a little bit more.  I hate thinking about a social world in which just growing up can get a child killed.

    Off to Apartadó tomorrow, but unable to get La Loma out of my mind.

  • Sergio Jaramillo and “territorial justice” in Colombia

    “Comienzo con la dimensión más práctica, que voy a llamar el problema de la justicia territorial. Es todo lo que hay que hacer en los territorios para restablecer y proteger los derechos de propiedad sobre la tierra.”


  • A talk by María Clemencia Ramirez

    poster_m-_clemencia.pdf poster_M._Clemencia