National Geographic : 2018 Jan
76 of an overwhelmingly popular leader of the tra- ditional Liberal Party, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. The murder sparked deadly riots in the capital, Bo- gotá, and a 10-year wave of partisan killings—La Violencia—in the countryside. But long before that, members of the Conservative Party had been slaughtering Liberals, and often enough, vice versa. In 1957 an agreement to end the violence by rotating power between both parties led to a dec- ade or so of relative peace, and in the cities not many people took notice of a few dozen Liberal campesino families who’d been radicalized by a forceful communist organizer. Among those who did were the army, the sitting president, and an archconservative senator who accused the campesinos of wanting to create “independent republics” inside Colombia. In 1964 a military operation involving thousands of troops overran the Liberal group’s small, precipitous holdings in Colombia’s Andean foothills. Further radical- ized by being bombed, the campesinos adopted the FARC name and embarked on a guerrilla war against the state that was to last 52 years. The small band of radical campesinos with no weapons to speak of and no proper military train- ing little by little recruited neighbors and nearby villagers, until their numbers exceeded the most fantastical expectations. Then the FARC grew again, explosively, in the 1980s, thanks to a war on drugs that began in the United States and was largely fought in Mexico and the Andean coun- tries, where coca is grown. Leaves from the shrub- by coca bush are medicinal, sacred to the native populations of the Andes. They’re also the central ingredient in cocaine, a chemical compound first developed in Germany in the mid-19th century. When growing coca was declared a criminal activ- ity more than a hundred years later, Andean peas- ants simply moved what was by far their sturdiest cash crop to increasingly remote parts of Colom- bia’s vast hinterland. After all, some bloodthirsty drug mafia or other was always willing to pay top dollar for the otherwise useless plant. Given the never-ending demand for recre- ational drugs from New York to Shanghai, the drug war only served to force prices ever upward. Bogotá FARC area of influence 1990s-2010s Disarmament center 2016 VENEZUELA PANAMA COSTA RICA ECUADOR PERU BRAZIL Caribbean Sea Lake Maracaibo Gulf of Venezuela PACIFIC OCEAN Cali Barranquilla Cúcuta Bucaramanga Ibagué Pereira Pasto Villavicencio Manizales Montería Valledupar Buenaventura Neiva Palmira Armenia Popayán Tumaco Sincelejo Santa Marta Medellín Quibdó Ricaurte El Salado Cartagena Bogotá ANDESGUAJIRAPENINSULA CESAR MAGDALENA ATLÁNTICO BOLÍVAR NORTE DE SANTANDER SUCRE CÓRDOBA ANTIOQUIA CALDAS SANTANDER ARAUCA CASANARE DISTRITO CAPITAL VICHADA GUAINÍA VAUPÉS AMAZONAS CAQUETÁ PUTUMAYO NARIÑO CAUCA VALLE DEL CAUCA CHOCÓ TOLIMA HUILA META CUNDINAMARCA QUINDÍO RISARALDA BOYACÁ GUAVIARE LA GUAJIRA SOUTH AMERICA NORTH AMERICA Hacienda Nápoles 591 2,335 1,288 101,161 15,614 171,920 REFUGEES MetaOrinocoMagdalenaCaucaAtratoMiraGuaviareGuainíaVaupésAmazonApaporis C aquetá Putu mayo COLOMBIA Guajira Desert AMAZON BASIN Panama Canal Annual newly internally displaced persons Total internally displaced persons 2016: 7,410,816 1984: 60,039 2002 753,678 84,151 13,835 Active peace process 1985 ’95 ’90 ’10 ’15 ’05 2000 Conflict fueled by political instability, land disputes, and the drug trade has plagued Colombia since the 1960s. Fighting among government forces, guerrilla groups such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and criminal gangs erupted in rural areas and spread throughout the country. Legacy of strife Decades of displacement The total number of internally displaced people in Colombia has swelled to more than seven million, one of the largest such crises in the world. For years they have crowded into cities and away from embattled rural areas. Peace process: Colombian government and the FARC, 2012–2017 2012 Official peace talks get under way in Cuba, and a two-month cease-fire is declared. 2013 Parties agree to the first of five agenda items: a land reform deal addressing rural inequality. 2016 A historic peace accord is signed but remains controversial. 2017 FARC rebels disarm.