Music and dance play a central role in
Colombian cultural life. The music unites influences
from Andean tones in the south, Caribbean rhythms in the
north and the heritage of Spain. The heritage of
indigenous peoples, Afrocolombians and Europeans is also
reflected in other cultural expressions.
Cumbia and vallenato are two domestic forms, but the
country is a major exporter of Latin pop and salsa as
well. Artist Shakira has a major impact internationally
and is known among others for the official song Waka
Waka at the Soccer World Cup in South Africa 2010.
Latest population statistics of Colombia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Literature has a strong position. The country's
greatest cultural personality is Gabriel García Márquez
(1927–2014), Nobel laureate in literature in 1982. His
most read novel, Hundred Years of Solitude, is
described by the fingered village of Macondo, both
Colombia's and Latin America's history. Among other
well-known contemporary writers are Laura Restrepo
(including the Leopard in the sun) and Juan
Gabriel Vásquez (The Sound of Things Falling).
One of the continent's most famous artists is
Fernando Botero (1932–), famous for his realistic motifs
of grotesque obese people in typically Latin American
environments. Theater life is also broad and developed.
The prehistoric cultural heritage is rich. The Gold
Museum in Bogotá is considered among the foremost of its
kind. Most famous is Balsa Muisca, a pure gold image of
the raft used by the indigenous people of Muisca in
their coronation ceremonies.
Muisca's rituals brought to life the rumors of the
gold town of El Dorado, which propelled the Spanish
colonizers to constantly new conquests. Ciudad Perdida
(Lost City) is considered to be the capital of the
tayrona people. It was discovered in the 1970s in the
jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
The Spanish colonizers who arrived in the early 16th
century have characterized Colombia in several respects.
One of South America's best-preserved colonial cities is
Cartagena on the north coast, named by the city's great
author Germán Espinosa as "the city of legends".
New general strike following call attempts
A third two-week general strike is being carried out, and union members,
students and groups of origin are leading demonstrations against the government
around the country. The day before, direct talks were held for the first time
between the government and the National Strike Committee, with no results.
Protest leaders present demands
The national strike committee leading the ongoing protests presents a list of
13 demands to the government, including the abolition of a proposed tax reform,
the peace agreement with Farc from 2016 being respected and fulfilled, and the
government doing more to prevent the assassination of social activists and
former rebels. Perhaps the most controversial claim is that the elite police
force Esmad should be dissolved, after an 18-year-old protester died after being
hit in the head by one of the police's tear gas canisters. The National Strike
Committee has been formed by around 300 trade unions and groups representing
students, university teachers and groups of origin, among others. A few days
earlier, President Iván Duque has launched what he calls a national dialogue to
try to pour oil on the protest wave, together with mayors and other politicians.
Mass protests erupt
Hundreds of thousands of Colombians participate in protest marches around
Colombia, in protest against violence and drug trafficking and in support of the
peace agreement with Farc 2016. The demonstrations have been largely inspired by
similar protest movements in Chile and Ecuador during the fall. The government
is deploying 170,000 soldiers and police to maintain the order, closing the
country's borders. Unrest and vandalism erupt in several places. Three people
die and around 270 are injured.
The Minister of Defense resigns
Defense Minister Guillermo Botero leaves his post after accusations that he
tried to darken a scandal in which children fell victim to a military air
strike. The 71-year-old lawyer Botero has previously been criticized both for
lack of experience in security matters and for reproducing incorrect information
about a military operation against a former guerrilla soldier. The criticism
grew into a storm after he claimed that the deaths in connection with the air
strike were people who had been recruited by an armed gang consisting of
defeated guerrillas. Nine of the 14 victims were children.
Military deployed following murder of origin leader
The government decides to send 2,500 elite soldiers to an area in
southwestern Colombia where former Farcrebeller murdered a leader and four
others who belonged to the indigenous people's nasa. The murders occurred in a
region that is administratively controlled by NASA, which states that Farc
dissidents are trying to force locals to participate in drug smuggling.
President Iván Duque accuses the rebels who abandoned the peace agreement of
terrorizing indigenous peoples. The elite soldiers are now tasked with stopping
the drug smuggling and crushing the Farc dissidents' groups. Indigenous peoples
organization Onic states that 123 people belonging to indigenous peoples have
been murdered since Duque took office in August 2018.
Record number of candidates in local elections
When governor elections and elections in the municipalities are held, 116,000
candidates stand, of which 37 percent are women. That's more than ever before.
In Bogota, for the first time, a woman is elected mayor. In addition,
49-year-old Claudia López is openly gay, tweeting about a historic victory. The
former guerrilla Farc is running for election for the second time, but only
takes home a single municipality in southwestern Colombia.
Ex-president Uribe facing HD
During a major security effort, the senator and leader of the ruling party
CD, Álvaro Uribe, appoints in the Supreme Court. The court will decide whether
the former president (2002-2010) should be tried, for suspected testimony. The
recording is a report Uribe himself made in 2012 against another senator,
leftist politician Iván Cepeda, who claimed that Uribe was planning to falsely
link him to paramilitary groups.
Former Farc leaders admit guilt for kidnappings
Eleven leaders of the former left-wing guerrilla Farc say they take "ethical
and political responsibility" for the thousands of kidnappings carried out
during the long civil war in Colombia. It happens when the former commander and
now party leader Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londoño submits testimony to the special
judicial body JEP. Londoño says the Farc leaders have taken the first step in a
long process. JEP will investigate crimes committed by the guerrillas between
1993 and 2012, and let ex-rebels avoid prison sentences if they admit, replace
the victims and promise never to resort to violence again. Londoño and a couple
of other former guerrilla leaders pleaded with the JEP victims in July 2018 for
Ex-rebels take to arms
A former peace negotiator and second man in the Farc left guerrilla, Iván
Márquez, says he and several other ex-rebels are now picking up weapons again
(see also October 2018). The message is given in a video in
which Iván Márquez appears in military clothes, surrounded by several armed
former Farc members. Among them are two other famous men, Jesús Santrich (see
July 2019) and Hernán Darío Velásquez ("El Paisa"). Márquez
accuses the government of cheating on the implementation of the 2016 peace
agreement and unilaterally changing the terms. On the same day, President Iván
Duque announces that a special army unit will be formed to hunt down former Farc
members. He also promises the equivalent of $ 882,000 to anyone who succeeds in
arresting any of the people in the video.
Arrest warrant for Farc leader
The Supreme Court issues an arrest warrant for former rebel leader Jesús
Santrich after failing to appear in court (see also May and
June 2019). Santrich, who is suspected of drug smuggling, is
reported to have disappeared two days earlier from the "reintegration zone"
where he was, near the Venezuela border. President Iván Duque accuses Santrich
of going underground to avoid justice while his lawyer says he doesn't know
where he is, and his son fears he has been kidnapped or killed. Another three
leading Farc members have disappeared (see also October 2018).
Farc leaders appeal for protection for ex-rebels
The supreme leader of the former leftist guerrilla Farc, Rodrigo Londoño,
appeals in an open letter to President Iván Duque about a halt to the
"systematic murders" of former guerrillas. Two new such murders have just
occurred: one former Farc member was shot to death while working as a journalist
and the other after a meeting with UN staff. President Duque has condemned the
murders and ordered an investigation. A total of 160 former Farc soldiers and
their relatives are estimated to have been murdered since the peace treaty was
concluded in 2016. The UN has found that it is mainly illegal armed groups and
narcotics that are behind the murder of the former Farc soldiers.
Farc leader becomes congressman
Former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich swears the oath and takes his place in
Congress where the former left guerrilla Farc, now a political party, has ten
reserved seats until 2026 in accordance with the peace agreement. Santrich
himself says that a new step has been taken in defense of peace in Colombia -
but President Duque has recently called him a "mafioso" who runs the Colombian
society (see also May 2019).
Court order to release Farc leader
The Supreme Court orders the government to immediately release former
guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich who was released and then remanded earlier this
month. The Court also rejects a number of amendments to the peace agreement
proposed by President Duque. Duque says he accepts the court's decision, but
also that he will continue to try to resolve things that "do not go well" with
the peace agreement concluded in 2016 with Farc, the former guerrilla who is now
a political party.
The army reverses "dead" orders
The military announces that an order for sharpened action against criminals
should be modified - as a result of a critical New York Times article. According
to the article, there was a great risk of an increased number of civilian
casualties when the army ordered a doubling of the number of criminals and
members of armed groups killed, arrested or forced to capitulate in combat. The
order raised concerns about the repetition of the severe abuses committed during
Álvaro Uribe's presidency in 2002-2008, when up to 5,000 civilians are believed
to have been murdered (see Modern History and Political System). According to
the army, the order has been misinterpreted. The government accuses New York
Times journalist Nicholas Casey, regional bureau chief of the prestigious
newspaper, of being bought by former left-wing guerrilla Farc. The International
Press Federation in Colombia rejects the allegations and requests a correction.
Casey has left Colombia.
Farc leaders are released - and arrested again
The court that investigates crimes committed during the civil conflict
decides that former guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich should be released and not
released to the United States, who wants to put him on trial for drug smuggling
(see April and May 2018). The prosecutor
protests against the decision and President Iván Duque says he is confident that
it will change. When Santrich leaves the prison - in a wheelchair - he is also
immediately re-arrested and taken away by helicopter. The prosecutor says he
acted on an arrest warrant linked to drug smuggling. Santrich, who is actually
called Seuxis Paucias Hernández, is accused by the United States of being
involved in smuggling ten tons of cocaine into the United States after the peace
treaty with the leftist guerrilla Farc was signed. According to the peace
settlement, amnesty for former guerrilla soldiers only applies to crimes
committed before the agreement was signed. Farc, now transformed into a
political party, claims that Santrich has been subjected to a "legal trap".
A new regional forum is formed
During a meeting in Chile, eight South American presidents launch the new
Regional Forum for the Progress of South America (Prosur), which is intended to
replace Unasur - a regional body that has effectively ceased to function.
Prosecur will mainly support democracy and the market economy, it says. The
initiative has been taken by President Iván Duque and Chile's Sebastián Piñera,
and the other participating countries are Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana,
Paraguay and Peru. Representatives of the left-wing governments in Bolivia,
Surinam and Uruguay attend the meeting, but those countries do not join Prosur.
Venezuela was not invited.
Bloody explosion in Bogotá
A car bomb explodes at a police school in Bogotá and demands the lives of 20
police cadets, in an attack for which the Marxist guerrilla ELN then takes on
the blame. Nearly 70 are also injured in what the government classifies as
terrorist offenses and which leads to President Iván Duque announcing three days
of country grief. The act of violence is the worst that has hit the capital in
15 years. The driver of the car, who also dies in the explosion, is identified
as an explosive expert at ELN. Following the attack, President Duque is
demanding the expulsion of ten ELN leaders from Cuba, which the Cuban
government, however, rejects.