Posts by: Nazih Richani

Feb 12, 2014
Nazih Richani

Peace in Colombia is in a precarious position—says the literature on post-conflict countries. A 2003 report states that on average, 44% of countries emerging from civil war return to conflict within the first five years.

Jan 7, 2014
Nazih Richani

There is a crisis in the "national state" formations in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, increasing due to the declining hegemonic power of U.S. imperialism. Within this complex panorama of the deepening crisis of the national state, we might ask: what about Colombia after 50 years of civil war? 

Dec 26, 2013
Nazih Richani

In a report published on December 21, the Washington Post brought the U.S. role in the Colombian conflict into sharper focus when it revealed the role of the CIA and the NSA in the assassination of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander Raul Reyes in March of 2008. According to the report, the U.S. covert military operations were funded by a multibillion dollar “black budget.”

Dec 3, 2013
Nazih Richani

President Juan Manuel Santos meets today with President Barak Obama in the White House. The United States is not only the major trading partner and major market of Colombia’s exports, but also an active participant party in Colombia's 50-years long civil war.

Nov 13, 2013
Nazih Richani

A few days ago the Juan Manuel Santos government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed off on the second item of their five-point negotiation program: that of political participation. This agreement, alongside the preceding agreement on the agrarian question, elevates the positive expectations that the peace process is moving in the right direction, and that prospects of a final agreement are closer than ever before.

Nov 1, 2013
Nazih Richani

The specter of the increasing public debt in Colombia is expected to generate a deep economic crisis if not addressed.

Oct 9, 2013
Nazih Richani

U.S. imperialist policy is shifting toward surgical military operations, a shift that tends to perpetuate violence without addressing its root causes. This has become apparent in Colombia, a country that is attempting to negotiate a peaceful end to its almost 50 years of civil war.

Sep 25, 2013
Nazih Richani

FARC negotiators Iván Marquez and Pablo Catatumbo have both been unsatisfied with the adamant refusal of the Santos government to tackle tough points in the peace negotiations. This is especially the case with disagreements having to do with the agrarian question.

Sep 11, 2013
Nazih Richani

To contain Colombia´s  spreading rural crisis, the government of Juan Manuel Santos, facing peasant strikers who have blocked several crucial highways, has followed a three-pronged strategy of co-optation, coercion (some of it violent) and a surface re-shuffling of government officials. Up to this point, nothing has worked as the strike enters its fourth week.

Aug 27, 2013
Nazih Richani

The government of Colombia has been forced to negotiate with peasants' organizations in the wake of the peasants' strong show of force. The rural workers who have mounted Colombia's national agrarian strike are staying the course after four peasants and one policeman were killed and scores more detained. Hundred of thousands of peasants and small farmers are participating in this historic mobilization whose scope and magnitude have not been seen for decades.

Aug 19, 2013
Nazih Richani

Today Monday, August 19, Colombia is witnessing a general rural strike involving most of its population—a strike revealing the deep crisis of the rentier-economic model.

Aug 12, 2013
Nazih Richani

The on-going peace talks in Havana between the rebels and the government are deadlocked.

Jul 17, 2013
Nazih Richani

The national strikes that have been going on for the last month are now increasing in rural Colombia as peasants protest the economic crisis resulting from the failure of the neoliberal economic model.

Jun 30, 2013
Nazih Richani

The rebellion in Catatumbo, North Santander, reveals the ills of Colombia's economic model of development.

Jun 21, 2013
Nazih Richani

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are calling for a constituent assembly to lay the foundation for a democratic system.

Jun 3, 2013
Nazih Richani

The United States has historically played a critical role in Colombia's civil war due to its special links with its military that were cemented through Plan Colombia.

May 21, 2013
Nazih Richani

An agreement on the agrarian question is emerging from the peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government which could usher in a revolution in land tenure.

May 10, 2013
Nazih Richani

While negotiations continue between the Santos government and the FARC, potato farmers in the countryside went on strike. This comes in the wake of the widespread protest movement staged by the small coffee growers some weeks ago.

Apr 29, 2013
Nazih Richani

The progress and a successful conclusion of the current peace talks in Colombia largely depends on a change in U.S. policy toward the Andean subregion and in Latin America at large.

Apr 12, 2013
Nazih Richani

Colombia's “Green War” over the emerald trade is another example of the precarious path of state building that Colombia has had to undergo since its independence in the 19th century. It is a process that is still unfolding.

Apr 3, 2013
Nazih Richani

This blog addresses the U.S. posture toward the peace process in Colombia, as seen by the commander of the South Command, General John Kelly.

Mar 27, 2013
Nazih Richani

The three thousand peasants that participated in the third encounter of the National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones, which took place last Friday, were an important impetus to the FARC’s proposal of expanding agricultural reserve zones in Colombia.

Mar 19, 2013
Nazih Richani

White smoke is rising in Havana, Cuba where the negotiators of the Juan Manuel Santos and the insurgents of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been negotiating since early last year. The two sides have almost agreed on the most important issue on the agenda: the agrarian question.

Mar 12, 2013
Nazih Richani

Colombia's rentier-based economy constitutes the main threat to development and peace.

Mar 4, 2013
Nazih Richani

Small and medium-sized coffee growers are on strike protesting the declining prices of the coffee beans and the lack of government support.

Feb 25, 2013
Nazih Richani

The peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC in Havana are subject to conflict and politics that could undermine the process.

Feb 12, 2013
Nazih Richani

More than 5,000 workers at coal multinational corporation began a strike demanding higher salaries, better working conditions, and effective measures to protect the environment. This strike reveals yet a much larger problem with the extractive resource industry in Colombia.

Feb 5, 2013
Nazih Richani

The peace process hit a snag last week after FARC resumed its military operations following the expiration of its 60-day unilateral cease fire.

Jan 28, 2013
Nazih Richani

The negotiations between the FARC and the Santos government have advanced, and last week they established a benchmark for the first item on their discussion of the agrarian question.

Jan 21, 2013
Nazih Richani

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has modified its position regarding Colombia's latifundios. This is its first change on the latifundio question since its inception in 1964.

Jan 14, 2013
Nazih Richani

Peace talks between representatives of the Juan Manuel Santos government and the FARC delegates resume today in Havana, Cuba.

Jan 1, 2013
Nazih Richani

The peace talks in Colombia are in recess and will resume in January 14 when the parties will continue their discussion of the agrarian question.

Nov 26, 2012
Nazih Richani

This week a U.S. delegation is to meet with the Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón and the Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín. This is the most important U.S. delegation to visit Colombia since the inception of Plan Colombia in 2000 and demonstrates what is to come for Colombia within the U.S. regional security regime and global strategy.

Nov 3, 2012
Nazih Richani

The peace process in Colombia faces several challenges. One of which is a recalcitrant military institution preoccupied about its future—considering its dismal human rights record—if an accord is reached.

Oct 19, 2012
Nazih Richani

In light of the initiation of the peace process in Colombia, the country faces a stark choice between durable peace or continous war.

Oct 2, 2012
Nazih Richani

Both the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are preparing for their meeting in the Norwegian Capital, Oslo, on October 17. The composition of the facilitators and observers reflect a balancing act between the Santos government and the FARC.

Sep 25, 2012
Nazih Richani

The composition of  any negotiating team reveals facts about the importance of the negotiations, the nature of those negotiations, and their prospects for success. Drawing on this understanding, we can make some educated guesses about what to expect from the upcoming negotiations between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Sep 16, 2012
Nazih Richani

 
One of the core reasons why the civil war in Colombia has endured for so long is because the costs of peace for the dominant classes and the United States is more than the costs of war. Nevertheless, there are several issues that can assess the possibility of success of the process of a possible peace in Colombia. 

Sep 2, 2012
Nazih Richani

The secret peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC are now out in the open. It is premature to anticipate the prospects, however they are the first talks since the collapse of the last peace negotiations in 2002. I believe that the chance for success is higher now than in the 1998–2002 round. Success is by no means guaranteed, but there may be some hope.

Aug 22, 2012
Nazih Richani

Former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe's recent verbal attacks against President Juan Manuel Santos are perhaps most important for where they were made—Sincelejo, a powerful stronghold of Colombian landed elite. Across the country, this group has disproportionate political power that far exceeds its economic weight due to its success in political engineering and its employment of brutal force.

Aug 14, 2012
Nazih Richani

Since July 23, workers have been on strike at Colombia's private railway company FENOCO demanding better salaries, improved work conditions, and more social investments in areas of coal production. The strike may have serious implications on coal supply and prices in international markets, considering that Colombia is among the world’s largest coal exporters.

Jul 31, 2012
Nazih Richani

The state is not winning the civil war in Colombia thanks to the limitations of its behemoth military and the capacities of the insurgency to adjust to changing war conditions.

Jul 16, 2012
Nazih Richani

Former president Alvaro Uribe Velez has built a coaltion of reactionary political forces and social groups to challenge president Santos's peaceful overtures and his attempt to return lands to those dispossessed by right-wing groups and the landed elite. 

Jun 27, 2012
Nazih Richani

The Colombian congress recently passed a bill that will lead to impunity if President Juan Manuel Santos approves.

Jun 11, 2012
Nazih Richani

Land restitution in Colombia is moving toward failure because the Santos government is committed to the neo liberal orthodoxy of agrarian development based on large scale agriculture. A law passed last year granting compensation to victims who lost their land in the conflict has given rise to opposition between activists and paramilitary groups.
 

May 29, 2012
Nazih Richani

Considering that the human toll now tops 50,000 fatalities, Mexico's War on Drugs could more accurately be described as a civil war. Nor is it an accident that Colombia’s new Patriotic March in Colombia echoes the voice of the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity in Mexico, identifying peace and social justice as the only rational approach to settling its own civil war.

May 6, 2012
Nazih Richani

The birth of the Patriotic March movement in Colombia may usher in a new phase in the country's quest for peace and social justice. But can it harness the potential and push the country to a tipping point for peace?

Apr 24, 2012
Nazih Richani

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Colombia on Monday as part of a regional tour that includes Brazil and Chile. Panetta's visit came on the heels of Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak's trip to Colombia and may be planned to bless the growing Colombian-Israeli collaboration, which Colombia believes can help it position itself as a major exporter of security in the region.

Apr 10, 2012
Nazih Richani

According to a recent report, about 40% of Colombian land "has been licensed to, or is being solicited by, multinational corporations in order to develop mineral and crude oil mining projects." The extractive development is at the expense of food production, a profound shift in land use that puts the future of Colombia’s food security in jeopardy.

Apr 3, 2012
Nazih Richani

Last week, U.S. Army general Martin Dempsey visited Colombia, which may be on the road to becoming the third theater of U.S. military operations after Afghanistan and Iraq. Dempsey revealed that U.S. colonels with combat experience will be sharing their experiences with the Colombian military in the coming weeks.

Mar 27, 2012
Nazih Richani

During the last week and yesterday the Colombian government carried out a pair of bombing raids on camps of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), killing over 60 guerrillas. The government offensive is strategically significant. The production of the country’s oil is largely concentrated in the region of the raids, where big interests are at stake.

Mar 8, 2012
Nazih Richani

The FARC is taking the political initiative and increasing the pressure on the government of Juan Manuel Santos to initiate peace talks. It remains unclear, however, if Santos will engage the FARC and seek a peaceful end to hostilities before the 2014 presidential election.

Feb 27, 2012
Nazih Richani

The United States is changing its "high value target" military strategy against the FARC in Colombia to focus on mid-level commanders and units that are critical to the organization's financial support. 

Feb 20, 2012
Nazih Richani

President Juan Manuel Santos is on a collision course with a growing faction of powerful economic groups that oppose the land restitution Law 1448. The outcome of this dispute will show whether Colombia's democracy could stand up to the influence of the richest classes. 
 

Feb 12, 2012
Nazih Richani

Last Saturday Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos celebrated a media blitz in Necocli, Antioquia, when he launched his plan to return some of the lands that were forcefully taken from millions of peasants over the course of the last twenty years. The question is: Can this government withstand the resistance of the formidable forces that benefited from this land grab?

Feb 7, 2012
Nazih Richani

Reactionary forces in Colombia are challenging President Juan Manuel Santos's plans to implement Law 1448, which calls for land restitution to the victims of Colombia's conflict. The Colombian Banana Growers Association (AUGURA) warns against possible violence that could be unleashed by Santos's demonstration in Necocli, Antioquia, this upcoming Saturday.

Jan 30, 2012
Nazih Richani

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos recently declared that his government was committed to implementing the recently passed Victims’ Law, which calls for the restitution of lands that were usurped during the last two decades to their legitimate owners. There are many obstacles, however, and it is unclear if Santos is willing to stand up to the large land owners that have caused so much suffering.

Jan 23, 2012
Nazih Richani

Colombia has recently become very attractive to multinational corporations, particularly in the mining and oil sectors. Over the last three years foreign direct investment in these Colombian sectors has more than doubled. With this rise in investments land conflicts are only expected to increase, violating ever more human, cultural, labor and environmental rights.

Jan 15, 2012
Nazih Richani

The new leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Timoleón Jiménez has reiterated the call for the urgent resumption of peace talks. However, to get there, the United States must change its position toward favoring a peaceful solution. This is the white elephant whose role has been omnipresent yet underappreciated by analysts of war and peace in Colombia.

Jan 8, 2012
Nazih Richani

On January 1, the Colombian government killed Juan de Dios Úsuga, the leader of the Urabeños, one of the most powerful groups formed out of the demobilized Colombian paramilitary. In response to the killing, the Urabeños unleashed a wave of violence and threats over the last week, demonstrating the intimidating power of this criminal group.

Dec 27, 2011
Nazih Richani

The judicial reform bill, currently being debated in the Colombian congress, threatens to compromise the relative independence that the country’s courts have enjoyed since the passage of the 1991 Constitution. This independence has allowed Colombia to investigate more than 60 members of congress for charges of collaborating with narco-traffickers and paramilitaries.

Dec 12, 2011
Nazih Richani

Yesterday morning Colombia and Latin America lost one of its most influential intellectuals and social scientists: Álvaro Camacho Guizado, a colleague, mentor, and, above all, a very dear friend. Camacho dedicated his life and energy to the study of narco-trafficking. He was also an early critical voice against U.S. anti-drug policy in Colombia.

Dec 5, 2011
Nazih Richani

Over the weekend, it was reported that U.S. government agencies are laundering money on behalf of narco-traffickers, and helping them to smuggle weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border. With these policies, the U.S. government is increasingly participating in a war that that is killing hundreds of thousands and eroding the prerequisites for good governance.

Nov 28, 2011
Nazih Richani

Last Saturday, Colombian government troops attacked a FARC encampment, leading to the death of four FARC prisoners. The deaths are at least partially due to the government's willingness to take riskier missions, which threaten more lives. In the absence of a peace negotiation, a more cautious policy is badly needed.

Nov 21, 2011
Nazih Richani

In May, the World Bank published its 2011 World Development Report, in which it considered civil wars and organized crime to be obstacles to economic development. However, without properly examining the problem of unequal land distribution, the recommended policies in the report will not be enough to end violence in many countries, including Colombia.

Nov 7, 2011
Nazih Richani

On November 4, FARC leader Alfonso Cano was killed by the Colombian army, raising questions about the country’s on-going conflict. The core question is whether President Santos will capitalize on his victory to push for a negotiated peace agreement, or squander the opportunity and prolong this very costly conflict.

Oct 31, 2011
Nazih Richani

Regional elections were held across Colombia yesterday. However, at least 25% of the newly elected governors are alleged to have ties to right-wing paramilitaries. This reveals a deep-rooted problem in Colombian electoral politics in the midst of the on-going armed conflict

Oct 24, 2011
Nazih Richani

In just 48 hours, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia delivered two strong blows against the Colombian military, killing 20 soldiers and wounding many others. The timing of the attacks is significant, occurring less than 10 days before the October 30 Colombian local and legislative elections.

Oct 17, 2011
Nazih Richani

Among the wide spectrum of U.S. international conflicts is the U.S. war in Colombia. This war has been often understated and almost forgotten, but thanks to recently-released WikiLeaks documents the U.S. involvement in Colombia is increasingly coming to light.

Oct 13, 2011
Nazih Richani

Yesterday the U.S. Congress approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia. While it is still too early to assess the full magnitude of the FTA, there are already obvious losers and winners.

Oct 10, 2011
Nazih Richani

The U.S. congress is expected to approve the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia this Wednesday. The alarms are already sounding among many sectors in Colombia, especially the producers of rice, corn, wheat, and dairy products. 350,000 Colombian small farmers are expected to be among the first to be hit.

Oct 3, 2011
Nazih Richani

Each year, including pensions and other benefits to military personnel, the Colombian government spends as much as 25% of it's GDP on defense. But this already huge figure only accounts for the immediate costs of the continuation of the war system and does not tell us much about the hidden and more important longer-term effects of the war on the country’s economic and political development.

Sep 26, 2011
Nazih Richani

The United Nations Development Programme’s latest report on Colombia, released last week, reaffirmed what experts have claimed for a very long time: that the core of Colombia’s problems lies in its rural economy.

Sep 19, 2011
Nazih Richani

The controversy over the new Colombian methodology to calculate the number of poor is far from settled. The problem is, regardless of the “methodological rigor,” there are many doubts over whether the new methodology actually captures the magnitude and scope of Colombian poverty.

Sep 12, 2011
Nazih Richani

Colombia recently changed the method it uses calculate poverty. Consequently the numbers of the poor were reduced significantly. But how accurate are these statistics? And how are the chosen variables measured?

Sep 6, 2011
Nazih Richani

The government of Juan Manuel Santos is adjusting its military strategy to concentrate on special operations rather than on sustained large scale operations such as Plan Patriota. The move is another step in the shifting dynamics of the Colombian conflict in recent years.

Aug 29, 2011
Nazih Richani

In this post, I provide the reader with some additional context to the workers' mobilization in Puerto Gaitan and the problems that multinational investments bring to bear on the country’s political economy of war.

Aug 22, 2011
Nazih Richani

Colombian oil workers resumed their protests in Puerto Gaitan last week, once again confronting security forces. The new protests come after the Colombian government and the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales failed to fulfill promises made during last month’s oil workers’ strike.

Aug 15, 2011
Nazih Richani

Over the weekend thousands of campesinos, indigenous, and Afro-descendants gathered in the city of Barrancabermeja to call on the Colombian government and the insurgency to begin peace negotiations. The insurgency has expressed their willingness to talk, but the Santos government has yet to even explore the possibility. In order to understand why, we have to analyze the core obstacles that have confronted government peace negotiations with the FARC and the ELN since the mid-1980s.
 

Aug 8, 2011
Nazih Richani

During the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Colombian courts defended their independence and the separation of power by holding the executive and the legislative branches accountable to the rule of law. This position sparked a power struggle in the Colombian government that is far from over. Now, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos is attempting to trim the power of the Supreme Court alongside the other courts.

Aug 1, 2011
Nazih Richani

During the 1980s, Colombian narcotraffickers fought ferociously against being extradited to the United States.
But lately in an unprecedented shift, narcotraffickers are changing their attitudes, and courting extradition—the sooner the better.

Jul 25, 2011
Nazih Richani

Last week, in perhaps the largest recent strike in Colombia, 10,000 workers walked out of several multinational oil companies in the Department of Meta. The strikes came in response to recent layoffs and the dismal working conditions in Meta, which over the last few years has become the epicenter of the country’s oil production.

Jul 18, 2011
Nazih Richani

Colombia cultivated a special relationship with the Israeli military during the 2000s, increasing the intervention of foreign forces in its internal conflict. Now, the Israeli government is attempting to cash in by enlisting Colombia’s UN vote against Palestinian statehood in September.

Jul 11, 2011
Nazih Richani

In Colombia the hyper security state is committed to continuing its war in spite of several recent good will gestures by the insurgency. Instead, the Santos government is still following the U.S.-Israeli designed military strategy of “high value targets” (HVTs). In other words, to assassinate the insurgency’s leadership and mid-level commanders in order to disrupt their command and control the structure of the organization.

Jul 3, 2011
Nazih Richani

Over the last decade, several studies have warned that agricultural production is one of the most vulnerable sectors in the global economy, particularly for subsistence and small farmers, who are the main food producers in the world. The upcoming U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is nothing more than the continuation of a policy that promises an economic disaster to small producers, and further opens the door to a global food crisis.

Jun 26, 2011
Nazih Richani

Over the last decade, several changes occurred in the political economy of the war system in Colombia that may lead to the prolongation of the civil conflict.

Jun 20, 2011
Nazih Richani

For almost a century the dominant classes of Colombia have refused to accept a meaningful land reform as a way to end the civil war. What the Santos government needs is a change of course based on the acknowledgment that this protracted war has damaged enough Colombia’s social fabric.

Jun 13, 2011
Nazih Richani

State-sponsored crime is neither unique nor exceptional. In fact, as the prominent sociologist Charles Tilly pointed out, the history of the nation state has been violent. This violence has been harnessed over time to serve the interests of capital—as was the case of Europe.
Colombia is no exception.

May 22, 2011
Nazih Richani