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Background | Political | History

Historical: The last 50 year of Conflict

1948-57 - 250,000-300,000 killed in civil war.

1958 - Conservatives and Liberals agree to form National Front in a bid to end the civil war; other parties banned.

1965 - Leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) and Maoist People's Liberation Army (EPL) founded.

1966 - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc, the current largest guerrilla grouping) set up.

1970 - National People's Alliance formed as a left-wing counterweight to the National Front.

1971 - Left-wing M-19 guerrilla group emerges.

1978 - President Julio Turbay (Liberal) begins intensive fight against drug traffickers.

1982 - President Belisario Betancur (Conservative) grants guerrillas amnesty and frees political prisoners. War against drug cartels stepped up

1984 - Campaign against drug traffickers stepped up following assassination of justice minister.

1985 - Eleven judges and 90 other people killed after M-19 guerrillas force their way into the Palace of Justice; Patriotic Union Party (UP) founded. Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupts. An estimated 23,000 people are killed in four Andean towns.

1986 - Virgilio Barco Vargas (Liberal) wins presidential elections by record margin. Right-wing paramilitary groups begin murder campaign against UP politicians, amid continuing violence by left-wing groups and death squads run by drugs cartels.

1989 - M-19 becomes legal party after reaching peace agreement with government.

1989 - Liberal and UP presidential candidates murdered during presidential election campaign, reputedly at the behest of drug cartels; Cesar Gaviria elected on anti-drug platform.

1991 - New constitution legalises divorce, prohibits extradition of Colombians wanted for trial in other countries and guarantees indigenous peoples' democratic rights, but without addressing their territorial claims.

1993 - Pablo Escobar, Medellin drug-cartel leader, shot dead while trying to evade arrest.

1995 - Ernesto Samper Pizano (Liberal) elected president and is subsequently charged and cleared of receiving drug-cartel money for his election campaign.

1998 - Andres Pastrana Arango - a Conservative - elected president, begins peace talks with guerrillas.

1998 November - Pastrana grants Farc a safe haven the size of Switzerland in the south-east to help move peace talks along. The zone is off-limits to the army.

1999 January - Peace talks formally launched but proceed in stop-start fashion. Pastrana and Farc leader Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda meet.

1999 January - Powerful earthquake kills some 1,000 people. Cities of Armenia and Pereira badly hit.

2000 July - Pastrana's "Plan Colombia" wins almost US$1 billion in mainly military aid from the US to fight drug-trafficking and rebels who profit and protect the trade.

2000 September - Government freezes talks; alleges Farc harboured hijacker of plane forced to land in safe haven. Later, Farc refuses to resume talks, accuses Pastrana of not stopping paramilitary groups.

2001 February - The Farc return to peace talks after meeting between "Sureshot" and Pastrana. Pastrana extends demilitarized area for eight months.

2001 June - Farc rebels free 359 police and troops in exchange for 14 captured rebels. Farc accused of using safe haven to rearm, prepare attacks and conduct drug trade.

2001 October - Government, Farc sign San Francisco agreement, committing themselves to negotiate ceasefire. Pastrana extends life of safe haven until January 2002.

2002 January - Pastrana accepts Farc ceasefire timetable and extends safe haven until April.

2002 20 February - Pastrana breaks off three years of tortuous peace talks with Farc rebels, says hijacking of aircraft hours earlier is final straw. He orders rebels out of demilitarised zone. Government declares war zone in south after rebels step up attacks.

2002 May - Independent candidate Alvaro Uribe wins a first-round presidential election victory, promises to crack down hard on rebel groups.

2002 August - Moments before Alvaro Uribe is sworn in as president, suspected Farc explosions rock Bogota. Twenty people are killed. Days later, Uribe declares state of emergency.

2003 October - 14 out of 15 of President Uribe's planned austerity measures and political reforms rejected by voters in referendum. Three ministers, national police chief resign.

2003 November - Some 800 fighters from right-wing United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) disarm. AUC says its 13,000 paramilitaries will disarm by end of 2005.

2004 May - Farc's Ricardo Palmera, the most senior Colombian guerrilla ever captured, is jailed for 35 years.

2004 July - Right-wing AUC and government begin formal peace talks. AUC leaders address Congress.

2004 November - AUC demobilises some 450 of its fighters as part of the peace process with the government.

2005 January - Bitter 15-day dispute with Venezuela over the capture of a Colombian rebel Farc leader on Venezuelan soil. The presidents of both nations resolve the affair at talks in Caracas in February.

Additional Information
Background | Political | History



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