Elections and Events 1995-2000



Keesing’s record of world events April 1995: "The ruling Liberal Party (PL) was plunged into crisis on April 21, when it was announced that nine PL legislators were to be investigated by the Prosecutor-General’s office for suspected ties to the Cali drug cartel" (page 40498).


Dugas 2000: Àlvaro Gómez is assassinated in November 1995 (page 108).


Angell 2001: "Between the first election of mayors in 1988 and the end of 1995, 29 mayors were assassinated by guerrilla forces and 102 were kidnapped" (page 37).

Country report. Colombia 1996, 3: "On June 12 the Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, voted by 111 votes to 43 that there was no evidence that the president, Ernesto Samper, knew about the financing of his election campaign by the Cali drugs cartel" (page 7).

Dugas 2000: "After a highly criticized congressional investigation, the effort to impeach Samper failed in June 1996 as the Chamber of Representatives voted 111-43 to absolve him of all charges. Although several Conservative representatives voted to impeach the president, their minority status in the chamber, coupled with the deep division within the PC, kept the party from exerting much influence on the outcome" (page 105).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 13 number 7 July 1996: "Congress has unexpectedly voted to absolve Samper of charges including fraud and illegal enrichment, so ending an investigation that has rocked Colombia’s political establishment for over two years...The decision...can be attributed to the Liberal Party’s congressional majority of 93 seats to 72 and the fact that many Liberal Party congress members have themselves been accused of having ties with the drugs trade" (page 5).


Angell 2001: "By 1997 it was estimated that there was guerrilla presence in 622 municipalities, and a presence of paramilitary forces in 450" (page 37).

Boudon 2001: "(A)fter almost three years of virtual inactivity, the AD M-19 held a national conference in Bogotá May 31-June 1, 1997, at which the nearly 500 delegates decided to relaunch the party beginning with the local elections to be held October 27, 1997" (page 85).


Dávila Ladrón de Guevara 1998: "En julio de 1997 se celebró la cumbre de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), en la cual se ordenó una gran ofensiva en los Llanos Orientales y en los corredores de acceso a Bogotá, de cara al proceso electoral" (page 85).


Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 14 number 9 September 1997: "Guerrilla violence is increasingly focusing on disrupting October’s local elections. In northern Colombia, National Liberation Army (ELN) forces kidnapped several councillors in Bolivar province, while in the south, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has forced large numbers of candidates to withdraw. The killing of Liberal Party senator and key Samper ally Jorge Cristo by the ELN has also increased fears within the political establishment. Voting in 10 towns has already been cancelled. The towns affected—in southern Caqueta and eastern Meta provinces—only represent a tiny proportion of the electorate, but there is a very high risk that violence will escalate further" (page 4).

October: local elections

Angell 2001: "(T)he climate of intimidation for the 1997 elections was extremely high, and the relatively high turnout was seen as a victory for the political process against violence at the time, given that 359 mayoral candidates withdrew from the elections, in 153 municipalities" (pages 38-39).

Arango Gaviria 1998: "Estaban en juego 32 gobernaciones, 1.004 alcaldías, 502 curules de Asambleas, 11.805 de Concejos y 5.927 de Juntas Administradoras Locales (JALs)" (page 80). "Risaralda. Votación por el mandato ciudadano y porcentaje de abstención por municipio. 1997" (page 103). For each municipio in the department gives the number of registered voters, the number who voted, and the abstention rate. "Risaralda. Resumen del comportamiento electoral. 1997-2000" (page 105). Gives the number of departmental offices won by each party. "Risaralda. Votos nulos, blancos y tarjetas no marcadas. 1997" (page 111). "Colombia. Voto por la paz, gobernaciones y alcaldías según departamentos. 1997" (pages 122-123) (table reprinted from El Tiempo of November 4, 1997). "Colombia. Votación para gobernadores, según partido. 1997" (pages 124-125). "Colombia. Votación para alcaldes de ciudades capitales, según partido. 1997" (pages 126-127). "Risaralda. Votación final para Asamblea. 1997" (ages 137-142). Gives the name of each candidate, their party, and the number of votes they won in each municipality and the number of votes cast for lists, the number of blank votes, the number of valid votes, the number of null votes, the number of unmarked ballots, and the total votes. "Dosquebradas. Votación para concejo. 1997" (pages 143-146). "Risaralda. Votación final para gobernador. 1997" (page 147). "Pereira. Votación final para concejo. 1997" (pages 148-151).

Botero Restrepo 1998: "Total votación para JAL, concejo y alcaldía mayor – 1997" (page 158). Gives results by district. "Resumen voto para concejo por partido o movimiento político" (page 159). "Votación y listas juntas administradoras locales – 1997" (page 160). "Votaciones JAL por partido o movimiento político" (page 161). "Resumen de votación para alcaldía mayor por localidad" (page 162). "Concejales electos por localidades" (page 163). Gives detailed information on election in each district of Bogotá (pages 167-188).

Boudon 2000: "By election day, October 26, 1997, the National Electoral Council had recognized 48 political parties and movements, the vast majority of which could best be described as ‘microparties,’ with little support beyond a certain locality or leader" (page 39). The MCI "ran 700 candidates in the local elections" (page 40). Describes other results of the election (pages 41-43).

Bustamante 1998: "Elecciones para alcalde mayor [Bogotá ]—octubre de 1997. Resultado votación por candidato y por localidad" (page 157). Gives by district in Bogotá the number of votes for two candidates, blank votes, valid votes, null votes, and total votes.

Cepeda Ulloa 1999: "On 27 October 1997, Colombians went to the polls to elect 32 governors, 1004 ‘alcaldes’ (city-mayors), 502 deputies of departmental assemblies, and 11,805 members of municipal councils" (page 446).

Chernick 1999: "In October 1997 almost 10 million Colombians voted in favor of a generally worded ‘mandate for peace’" (page 159).

Country report. Colombia 1997, 4: "The political environment of the last quarter has been characterised by acute violent conflict. Guerrilla and paramilitary violence rose to an all-time high in the run-up to local elections held on October 26th, in which the ruling Partido Liberal (PL) won 22 out of the 32 gubernatorial posts…A total of 35 local council candidates were murdered and a further 200 were kidnapped, while over 1,300 would-be candidates were forced to retire from the campaign. These incidents forced the national electoral commission, which co-ordinates the polls, to declare several weeks before voting that polls would be impossible in over 200 of the country’s 1,071 municipalities—either because of the level of violence, or because too many candidates had withdrawn…(M)ore than 10m Colombians turned out to vote, representing a turnout of 49% of registered voters—up slightly from 47% in 1994" (page 10).

Dávila Ladrón de Guevara 1998: "Las guerrillas encaminaron sus acciones a la obstaculización del proceso electoral con ataques a la población civil (fundamentalmente en Cauca, Caquetá y el eje cafetero), el secuestro de cédulas (en Putumayo, Caquetá, Guainía y Vaupés), la convocatoria a un paro armado entre el viernes 24 y el lunes 27 de octubre, y la intimidación y el sabotaje que produjeron 920 renuncias a candidaturas, 121 secuestros o retenciones, 22 asesinatos y 19 atentados a las oficinas de la Registraduría entre marzo y septiembre. Hasta el viernes 24 de octubre, estas cifras se incrementaron de manera tal que 359 candidatos a alcaldías y 1.520 en listas de concejos municipales renunciaron a sus candidaturas ante las amenazas" (pages 85-86). "En los comicios del 26 de octubre se eligieron 32 gobernadores de los 125 candidatos inscritos, 1.004 alcaldes entre 3.416 candidatos, 502 diputados de 1.895 listas inscritas, 11.815 concejales de 28.643 posibilidades, 5.927 ediles de 8.490 candidatos inscritos" (page 102). "El Partido Liberal obtuvo 19 gobernaciones (59.37%), el Conservador 3 (9.3%) y las coaliciones y candidaturas independientes 9, es decir el 28.13% de los cargos departamentales" (page 104). "Gobernadores electos 1997" (page 116). Gives department, name of governor, and party.

Keesing’s record of world events October 1997: "According to official figures, some 49 per cent of the 20.4 million registered electorate participated in the poll despite the cancellation of voting in 20 of the 1,072 municipalities because of threats of violence…Preliminary results gave the ruling Liberal Party (PL) 19 of 32 governorships compared with four which were won by the main opposition Social Conservative Party (PSC). The PL also won control of 412 local councils compared with 301 for the PSC. Gains were made by non-establishment candidates with Enrique Penalosa, an independent Liberal, the comfortable winner of the mayorship of the capital, Bogotá. The PSC took the mayorship of the second-largest city, Medellín" (page 41856).

Miranda Hamburger 1998: "Las elecciones locales de octubre de 1997 estuvieron marcadas por el sabotaje de los grupos guerrilleros y los grupos paramilitares...Renuncias 920, retenciones 121, asesinatos 22, atentados a Registraduría 11...Las guerrillas y los paramilitares usaron las elecciones locales para mostrar su fuerza" (page 78).

Peñaranda 1999: "(E)n octubre de 1997...[la ASI logró] elegir el gobernador del departamento del Vichada, 6 diputados y cerca de 200 concejales respaldados por más de 100,000 votos" (page 128).

Pinzón de Lewin 1998: "Participación electoral de las 10 ciudades en elecciones de alcaldes 1997" (page 415).

Pizarro Leongómez 1998: "Los diez millones de votos a favor de la paz y de la aplicación inmediata del Derecho Internacional Humanitario constituyeron un acontecimiento sin antecedentes, dado que evidenciaron la fatiga colectiva con la guerra crónica que afecta al país" (page 91). "Problemas de orden público" (page 92). Table lists the problems involved in the election and the municipalities where they took place. "Número de municipios que nunca inscribieron listas y candidatos" (page 94). Renuncias de candidatos a las alcaldías y listas para el concejo antes del 14 de agosto de 1997" (page 95). Gives the full text of the "voto por la paz, la vida y la libertad" (page 96). Gives a variety of statistics related to the election (pages 96-98). "Mientras que los liberales retrocedieron en un 9.3% y los conservadores en un 18.6%, las coaliciones y candidaturas independientes para alcaldías y gobernaciones aumentaron en un 18.6%. En el departamento de Guainía, y por primera vez en la historia, un candidato apoyado por un movimiento indígena, la Alianza Social Indígena, alcanzó una gobernación" (page 98).

Rojas Arias 1998: "Votos por alcalde de Armenia. 1998-2000" (page 181). "Votos por gobernador del Quindío. 1998-2000" (page 181). "Quindío. Votación por el mandato ciudadano y porcentajes de abstención por municipio. 1998-2000" (page 205). "Quindío. Resumen del comportamiento electoral. 1998-2000" (page 207). "Quindío. Votos nulos, blancos y tarjetas no marcadas. 1998-2000" (page 208). "Diputados electos y votación. 1998-2000" (page 212). "Votación final para gobernador (según municipio). 1998-2000" (page 213). "Alcaldes electos en el Quindío según partido. 1998-2000" (page 214). "El Quindío no eligió [en 1997] ni una sola mujer en cargos de alcalde, ni gobernador" (page 214). "Votos para alcalde de Armenia. 1998-2000" (page 215). "Voto por la paz en el Quindío. Votos por alcaldías. 1998-2000" (page 216). "Quindío. Cuocientes y residuos. 1998-2000" (page 217). "Concejales electos según partidos [Quindío]" (pages 218-221).

Shifter 1999: "Reinforcing the grounds for optimism was the overwhelming public ‘mandate for peace’ reflected in the support of more than 10 million Colombians in a nonbinding plebiscite in October 1997. This mandate has assumed various organizational forms, such as the Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace, which has brought together diverse sectors of Colombian society" (page 118).

Sierra Hernández 1998: Lists the towns in Caldas and the faction to which the newly elected mayor belongs (page 48). Gives the number of city council members in the state elected from the different factions (page 49). "Resultado del escrutinio general de gobernador de Caldas" (page 73). Gives the number of votes won by each candidate, the number of blank votes, the number of valid votes cast, the number of null votes, and the number of unused ballots. "Resultados del escrutinio general de asamblea departamental en Caldas" (page 74). Gives the number of votes won by each successful candidate, the total number of votes for lists, the number of blank votes, the number of valid votes, the number of null votes, and the number of unused ballots. "Resultado escrutinio general de alcalde de Manizales" (page 75). Gives the number of votes for each candidate, the number of blank votes, the number of valid votes, the number of null votes, and the number of unused ballots. "Resultado del escrutinio general para concejo de Manizales" (page 76). Gives the number of votes won by each successful candidate, the total number of votes for lists, the number of blank votes, the number of valid votes, the number of null votes, and the number of unused ballots.


March: congressional elections

Botero Jaramillo 1998: "Composición partidista del senado 1998" (page 299). "Ultimos lugares senado – 1998" (page 306). "Partidos nuevos – senado 1998" (page 311). "Partidos tradicionales – senado 1998" (pages 316-318). Gives "cabeza de lista," party, and number of votes received. "Indice de concentración regional del voto. Senado 1998" (pages 334-335).

Boudon 2000: "(A) full 30 percent of the seats in the lower ‘Cámara de Diputados’ went to candidates who chose not to affiliate themselves directly with the two traditional parties, an increase from 19 percent in 1994" (page 33). Discusses the results (pages 43-44).

Bustamante 1998: "Representantes a la Cámara por Santa Fé de Bogotá, D.C. Marzo 8 de 1998" (page 159). Gives names of elected officials with the number of votes and percent of total vote each received. "Resumen de la votación para la Cámara de Representantes por Santa Fé de Bogotá, D.C., por localidades. Marzo 8 de 1998" (page 160). Also includes results for 1994 election.

Cepeda Ulloa 1999: "Elections for the two houses of congress—the Senate (102 seats) and the House of Representatives (161 seats)—took place on 9 March 1998" (page 446).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections 32 1998: Describes the electoral system used to elect seats in the house of representatives and the senate on March 8, 1998 (pages 47-52). Statistics include the distribution of seats in each house by party and sex (pages 49, 51, and 52). "The 1998 congressional elections took place against the backdrop of a violent guerrilla offensive in the country, as Marxist rebels continued to oppose government security forces in the country’s nearly 30-year-old civil war…Altogether more than 6500 candidates, representing 64 political parties, contested the 263 seats at stake…Final results gave the PL a renewed clear majority in both Houses as the electorate, turning out in relatively low numbers, opted for a general status quo" (page 48).

Keesing’s record of world events March 1998: "In legislative elections to both chambers of the legislature, the Congress, held on March 8, the ruling Liberal Party (PL) of President Ernesto Samper Pizano managed to retain a narrow overall majority…Turnout was estimated at 45 per cent, one of the highest figures in recent legislative elections" (page 42120). Gives details and some statistics.

Peñaranda 1999: "(D)urante las elecciones para Senado en marzo de 1998, la ASI duplicó el resultado obtenido para el Senado, cuatro años atrás. Con una cifra cercana a los 60.000 Jesús Piñacué logró una de las votaciones más altas en la circunscripción ordinaria...Adicionalmente, superando lo alcanzado por el conjunto de las organizaciones indígenas en elecciones anteriores, la ASI logró la elección de dos representantes a la Cámara, uno por el departamento de Guainía y otro por el departamento de Vaupés" (page 129). "Elecciones senado 1998. Candidatos indígenas" (page 129). Gives movement, candidate, and number of votes.

Pizarro Leongómez 1999: "Votación obtenida por las comunidades indígenas (1998)" (page 321). For "circunscripción especial" and "circunscripción nacional" gives name of organization, head of list, and votes received.

Ungar B. 1998: "En las tres elecciones posconstituyentes, el Partido Liberal ha sido mayoría en el Senado. Sin embargo, en 1998 su participación porcentual disminuyó, al pasar del 54.9% en 1991 y 1994, al 49%, representado en 50 curules; le siguieron el Partido Conservador Colombiano, que en esta ocasión sacó 16 curules, o sea el 15.7%, frente al 19.6% obtenido en 1994; la Nueva Fuerza Democrática con el 6.9% (7 curules); la Alianza Social Indígena, el Movimiento Nacional Progresista y el Movimiento de Defensa Ciudadana con el 2% cada uno (2 curules); otros movimientos o partidos con el 18% y las coaliciones con el 4.9%. Es decir, entre el Partido Liberal y el Conservador Colombiano obtuvieron el 64.7%, diez puntos porcentuales menos que en 1994" (page 197). "Votación de los doce mayores electores, senado 1998" (page 208). "Concentración de votos por circunscripciones (12 mayores electores, senado 1998)" (page 209).

Zambrano 1998: "El 8 de marzo de 1998 se presentaron 74 mujeres a la Cámara y 30 al Senado; entre ellas, María Isabel Rueda obtuvo la segunda votación más alta para la Cámara (109.211) e Ingrid Betancourt obtuvo la primera para el Senado (154.657), aumentando en diez veces su votación de hace cuatro años (15.459)" (page 255). "Mujeres elegidas al Congreso, 1998" (pages 278-279).


Chernick 1999: "By May 1998 millions heeded the call to stop work for a symbolic hour while tens of thousands more marched in the streets to demand a halt to political violence that had been claiming, on average, 23.4 lives a day and more than 700 a month since 1988. The Colombian government responded by establishing a permanent National Council for Peace composed of key representatives from the state, local government, and civil society and charged with advising the government on ways to reach a negotiated end to the country’s armed conflicts" (page 159).

May: presidential election, first round

Boudon 2000: Discusses the election (pages 44-47). "Presidential Election 1998: First-Round Results" (page 46).

Cepeda Ulloa 1999: "The outcome of the presidential election was more directly affected by the recently created institution of the vice-presidency and the two-round electoral system—both introduced by the 1991 constitution. Having candidates for the vice-presidency, freely chosen by presidential candidates regardless of party affiliation, allows for the formation of coalition movements or for the strengthening of a partisan ticket…The first candidate to emerge was the former Minister of Foreign Relations, Noemí Sanín, a dissident Conservative who resigned her position as Ambassador in London in August 1995 to lead a coalition movement—outside the traditional parties—opposed to the government…Andrés Pastrana was only officially launched as a candidate in February 1997, after being selected by 60 percent of the votes at the Conservative convention. However, by November 1997 there were about 15 candidates. Among them, there were at least seven candidates whose chances of reaching the second round could not have been then easily discarded" (page 447). Discusses the choices of vice-presidential candidates (page 448).

Country profile. Colombia 1999-2000: "Revelations of corruption and links to drug-traffickers contributed to growing dissatisfaction with the old parties in the 1990s, making room for the rise of independent movements such as Opción Vida (Life Choice), headed by Noemí Sanín, who won 27% of the vote in the first round of the 1998 presidential election" (page 8).

Country report. Colombia 1998, 3: "A high voter turnout of 10.7m in the May 31st presidential election produced a close fought race between the two leading contenders, Horacio Serpa of the ruling Partido Liberal (PL) and Andrés Pastrana of the Partido Conservador (PC), in addition to a surprisingly high vote of over 2.8m for the political outsider Noemí Sanín. Mr Serpa polled 3.7m votes in the first round, according him a narrow victory over Mr Pastrana, who polled 3.65m votes" (page 10).

Dugas 2000: "Noemí Sanín, herself a product of the Conservative Party and a former ambassador and foreign minister, spearheaded the Opción Vida (Life Option) movement. Her running mate was the eccentric but unquestionably independent former mayor of Bogotá, Antanas Mockus. Together they made a convincing case that their movement offered the only viable alternative to the clientelistic machine politics that characterized both the PL and the PC" (page 106). Describes results of the election.

Hoskin 1998: "Pastrana perdió la primera vuelta por 43.286 votos y ganó la segunda por 456.234" (page 362). "Elecciones mayo 31 de 1998: resumen y votación por departamentos, presidente y vicepresidente de la república" (pages 384-385).

Keesing’s record of world events May 1998: "With more than 98 per cent of votes counted, Serpa had gained 34.5 per cent of the vote compared with the 34.3 per cent achieved by Pastrana. Noemí Sanín Posada, an independent, had won 27 per cent, performing particularly well in Bogotá, Medellín and Cali…Turnout in the first round was estimated at more than 50 per cent" (page 42263).

Pinzón de Lewin 1998: "Votación por Noemí Sanín en 10 ciudades, 1a vuelta 1998" (page 417). "Resultados de las elecciones presidenciales en diez ciudades, primera vuelta 1998" (page 431).

June: presidential election, second round (Pastrana / PC)

Alcántara Sáez 1999: "Elecciones presidenciales de 1998" (page 336).

Boudon 2000: "Presidential Election 1998: Second-Round Results" (page 47).

Cepeda Ulloa 1999: Conservative Andrés Pastrana is elected "with the support of a coalition—the Gran Alianza para el Cambio" (page 446). "Colombian presidential elections, 1998" (page 450). Gives number of votes for three candidates in the first round and two in the second. "Pastrana’s victory brought an end to 12 years of Liberal dominance of the Colombian presidency. He was, however, elected by a coalition which included prominent dissident Liberals, and independents. The Vice-President, Gustavo Bell, is a Liberal" (page 450).

Country report. Colombia 1998, 3: "Mr Pastrana, who lost to Mr Samper in 1994, emerged victorious from the second-round run-off between himself and Mr Serpa. Mr Pastrana polled 50% of the vote in the second round, compared with 46% for Mr Serpa. Independent votes overwhelmingly favoured Mr Pastrana, while the PL party machinery showed signs of strain" (page 10). "Voter swing in the second round" (page 10). Gives votes for top candidates in the first round and two candidates in the second round. "The PL’s contrasting performance in the Caribbean coastal departments and in Antioquia illustrates the tendency for the more-developed parts of the country to favour the opposition or independents, while the less-developed areas turn out a higher vote for the PL" (page 10). "Votes for Mr Pastrana over those for Mr Serpa by department / region" (page 11). "Widespread discontent with the government of Mr Samper was the principal reason for Mr Pastrana’s victory…The PL, which has become increasingly polarised into pro-Samper and anti-Samper camps during the past four years, remained divided throughout the election campaign."

Hoskin 1998: "Pastrana perdió la primera vuelta por 43.286 votos y ganó la segunda por 456.234" (page 362). "Elecciones junio 21 de 1998: resumen de votación por departamentos, presidente y vicepresidente de la república" (pages 392-393).

Keesing’s record of world events June 1998: "In run-off presidential elections held on June 21, Social Conservative Party (PSC) candidate Andrés Pastrana Arango polled 50.6 per cent of the vote, defeating the candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (PL), Horacio Serpa Uribe, who won 46.5 per cent of the vote. Pastrana, whose victory ended 12 years of PL rule, was scheduled to take office on August 7. Turnout was unusually high at almost 60 per cent" (page 42329).

Pinzón de Lewin 1998: "El peso de las 10 ciudades en la votación por los candidatos presidenciales segunda vuelta de 1998" (page 411). "Resultados de las elecciones presidenciales en diez ciudades, segunda vuelta 1998" (page 431). "Participación electoral 1a y 2a vueltas 1998" (page 432).


Colombia: annual report on government, economy, the business environment and industry, with forecasts 1999: "In mid-August, the FARC launched an offensive to try to regain control of the banana-producing region of Urabá, one of its former strongholds" (page 37).

Dugas 2000: "Upon his inauguration as president in August 1998, Pastrana initiated an ambitious effort to negotiate peace with Colombia’s guerrilla movements, mend relations with the United States, and confront the perennial problem of drug trafficking. Nevertheless, his prospects for success on these different fronts were constrained by a worsening economic situation and renewed paramilitary violence. Not least, Pastrana’s ability to govern was constrained by the Conservative Party’s minority position in both houses of the congress and by continuing fragmentation within the party itself" (pages 106-107).

Nielson and Shugart 1999: "(A)fter the 1998 election resulted in the first Conservative president since 1986, the new government proposed further reform" (page 335). Gives details.


NotiSur—Latin American affairs 1998-12-18 (electronic version): "Despite sporadic advances toward peace, violence continues to dominate life in much of Colombia. Troops have pulled out of a large area of southern Colombia in preparation for peace talks between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), but killing by rebels, paramilitaries, and the military threaten the process...On Dec. 14, government officials met top guerrilla leaders and agreed to begin formal peace talks Jan. 7, breaking a five-week deadlock regarding ground rules for the negotiations... Many see the talks, the first in six years, as the last hope for a political solution to the conflict that has killed more than 35,000 people in the last 10 years...On Dec. 13, the government agreed to withdraw the 130 soldiers from the neutral zone to unblock the peace process. San Vicente del Caguan in the department of Caqueta and Mesetas, Uribe, La Macarena, and Vista Hermosa in the department of Meta comprise the 42,000-sq km demilitarized area" (page 1).


Shifter 1999: "The violence in Colombia is not attributable to the kinds of intense ethnic and tribal conflicts that have consumed so many other countries since the cold war’s end. It is instead the product of the intersection of three distinct tendencies: the crucial political role of violence, the development of the criminal drug economy, and the weakening of the state’s capacity and effectiveness…Though estimates vary widely, FARC is believed to have approximately 15,000 soldiers, organized in some 80 ‘fronts,’ with a presence in roughly half of Colombia’s municipalities; the group is especially strong in rural areas…Today the ELN is a significant insurgency, with some 3,000 to 4,000 troops that are concentrated in the oil-rich northeast of the country…Over the past year, a sucession of humiliating military defeats has dominated the news—and demoralized the country’s security forces and most Colombians. These circumstances have helped give rise to an exponential growth in the country’s paramilitary forces, now estimated to number roughly 4,000 to 5,000 combatants" (page 117).

May 21

Keesing’s record of world events May 1999: "On May 21 the paramilitary United Self Defence of Colombia (AUC) kidnapped a prominent Liberal Party (PL) senator, Piedad Córdoba. On the following day AUC leader Carlos Castaño announced that she would not be released unless his organisation was granted political status and given a place at the negotiating table. Castaño has been trying out a variety of strategies to achieve recognition of the paramilitaries in the peace process" (page 42934).

NotiSur—Latin American affairs 1999-6-4 (electronic version): "On May 21, a squad of paramilitary assailants seized prominent Partido Liberal Sen. Piedad Cordoba as she walked out of a Medellin health clinic. An outspoken human rights advocate and the most prominent national politician of African descent, Cordoba is still being held by paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño" (page 3).

May 26

NotiSur—Latin American affairs 1999-6-4 (electronic version): "Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Lloreda resigned May 26, citing differences with the administration of President Andres Pastrana regarding the peace process...Lloreda, the 1990 Partido Conservador presidential candidate and a former senator...had publicly disagreed with Victor G. Ricardo, Pastrana’s peace envoy, regarding talks with the 15,000-member... FARC...He said the government erred in announcing an indefinite extension of an army pullout begun last November from a Switzerland-sized area in southern Colombia... Pastrana ordered all troops out of the 42,000-sq km area in November in what was described as a temporary measure to induce the FARC into preliminary peace talks. But peace commissioner Ricardo announced May 27 that the region would remain a FARC sanctuary as long as peace talks with the group remain on track" (page 1). "Lloreda had begun a program to strengthen the 146,000-member armed forces, which won the loyalty of top officers. His resignation shocked the military" (page 2).

May 30

Keesing’s record of world events June 1999: "On May 30 the left-wing rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) kidnapped some 140 members of a congregation during a mass in La María church in the south-western city of Cali" (page 42990).


Keesing’s record of world events June 1999: "On June 7 the political reform bill, aimed at providing President Pastrana with sweeping powers to handle the peace process, including an amnesty for convicted guerrillas, was defeated in the Congress. The defeat undermined Pastrana’s claim to broad national backing in his negotiations with the guerrillas, as it was the first time that the independent bench in Congress had united with the opposition Liberal Party on a key issue to overturn the government" (page 42991).


Colombia: annual report on government, economy, the business environment and industry, with forecasts 1999: "In early July 1999, the rebels launched a major offensive directed at Bogotá, apparently using the demilitarised zone as a base. These large-scale attacks have been interpreted as part of the FARC’s efforts to increase its bargaining power before they start peace negotiations with the government" (page 37).


Keesing’s record of world events October 1999: "According to the organisers, up to 10 million people marched for peace in Colombia on Oct. 24" (page 43194).


April 4-5

Country report. Colombia 2000, 2: "On April 5th Mr Pastrana submitted a draft 17-question referendum to the Chamber of Deputies. The referendum proposal seeks to reform a host of Colombia’s political institutions, with particular emphasis on the lower house" (page 12). Lists the seventeen points. "The proposal has weakened Mr Pastrana’s coalition alliance, Gran Alianza Para El Cambio, and it is likely that several legislators from the opposing PL who have been supporting the president will return to the PL to form a majority opposition block in Congress" (page 13).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 6 June 2000: "In April 2000, the government announced it would hold an ‘anti-corruption’ referendum in July to propose fresh elections for congress" (page 5).

Nielson and Shugart 1999: Describes reform proposals (page 335).

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 10 number 13 April 7, 2000: "On April 4, Pastrana announced a referendum for July 30 on reforming Congress…(T)he referendum will include fundamental issues such as anti-corruption measures, changes in the political system, and reform of Congress. The most significant would be whether voters want to dissolve Congress immediately to implement the anti-corruption measures or wait until current terms expire. The president said if the referendum vote supported immediate change, Congress could be dissolved and new elections held Oct. 29" (page 3). "The Gran Alianza, which controls the 163-member House and 102-member Senate, includes Pastrana’s Partido Conservador Colombiano (PCC), dissident PL members, and some independents. Its cohesion on key votes is vital to ensure a majority over the mainstream wing of the PL, the largest single party in Congress" (page 4).

Torres Velasco 2000: "En los dos últimos años el gobierno buscó la aprobación de un proyecto de reforma política cuya intención era la de consolidar la legislación sobre partidos y modificar las reglas electorales, esto último con el fin de fortalecer la representación mayoritaria" (page 45).

April 9

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 10 number 16 May 5, 2000: "On April 9, top business and labor leaders met FARC rebels in their demilitarized zone to discuss ways to reduce unemployment—the first item on the 12-point agenda of the slow-moving talks to end the civil war. The meeting was the first of what negotiators have called public hearings, in which experts and ordinary Colombians will give their opinions on each point on the negotiating agenda…Colombia’s 18.1% unemployment rate is the highest in Latin America, and the country is in its worst recession in history" (pages 2-3).

April 14

Keesing’s record of world events April 2000: "On April 14 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) released a damning report on Colombia’s human rights record. The annual report pinned much of the blame for the current humanitarian crisis on the government’s failure to take effective action against human rights abusers. According to the report 402 massacres had occurred in Colombia in 1999, most of which were committed by the far-right paramilitaries" (page 43508).

April 19

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 10 number 16 May 5, 2000: "(O)n April 19, trade unionists, academics, and members of youth, women’s, and indigenous movements formed the Frente Social y Político (FSP), a leftist alliance aimed at ‘depolarizing’ the political scene…The driving force behind the new movement was CUT leader Luís Garzón" (page 4).

Torres Velasco 2000: "La reciente aparición del Frente Social y Político, encabezado por el líder sindical Luis Eduardo Garzón, representa una opción interesante para las izquierdas en la medida en que aglutina un conjunto amplio de fracciones. Sin embargo, sus perspectivas electorales son poco claras, toda vez que los grupos asociados tienen proyectos políticos independientes" (page 45).

April 20

Keesing’s record of world events April 2000: "On April 20 the government agreed to create a haven (some 4,800 sq. km) in the north of the country from which the National Liberation Army (ELN), a second guerrilla group, could start peace talks. President Pastrana informed the military high command that the government had decided to remove the military from the municipalities of Cantagallo, San Pablo (in southern Bolívar department) and Yondo (in Antioquia department)" (page 43508).

April 25

Country report. Colombia 2000, 3: "On April 25th the government announced that it had reached an agreement with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) concerning the venue for their national convention at which the ELN would negotiate peace...The accord envisages the withdrawal of military personnel from a 4,800-sq km area in northern Colombia that includes the municipalities of San Pablo and Cantagallo in the department of Bolívar, and Yondó in the department of Antioquia, to allow the convention to take place. The proposed area is significantly smaller than the 42,000-sq km area that the FARC has controlled since November 1998, and unlike the FARC zone, civil authorities, and national and international observers would maintain a presence in the zone" (page 13).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 6 June 2000: "The government has bowed to demands from the National Liberation Army (ELN) for a demilitarised zone similar to that secured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)...The creation of the area, one tenth the size of the FARC zone in southern Colombia, has been opposed by a significant proportion of the population and is likely to spur paramilitary activity" (page 1).

April 26

Country report. Colombia 2000, 3: "The peace commissioner, Victor Ricardo, resigned on April 26th having received death threats from paramilitary groups following his decision to extend the demilitarised zone" (page 12).

April 29

Country report. Colombia 2000, 3: "The launch of the FARC’s political wing, the Movimiento Bolivariano por la Nueva Colombia (MB), on April 29th did little to increase public enthusiasm" (page 12).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 6 June 2000: "The FARC has continued with its plans to form the Bolivarian Movement as a political counterpart to its military operations...Despite their creation of a political arm, there are also fears the rebels plan a major offensive against government forces" (page 1).

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 10 number 16 May 5, 2000: "On April 29, the FARC announced the formation of the Movimiento Bolivariano por la Nueva Colombia, which will operate clandestinely for the time being. Reyes said the party documents will be public, but the membership will not. The party was launched to break the century-long monopoly on political power by the Partido Liberal and the Partido Conservador, which the rebels say have maintained their grip on power through a combination of vote-rigging, political clientelism, and power-sharing deals…The party’s main goal will be to promote the FARC’s 10 core political proposals, which include sweeping agrarian reform, radical wealth redistribution, a stronger state role in key sectors of the economy, restrictions on foreign investment, and an end to free-market economic policies…This is the second attempt by the FARC to launch a political party. The first, in 1985, was the Union Patriotica (UP), created during the peace process carried out under the administration of Belisario Betancur (1982-1986). The UP enjoyed some early successes in municipal elections, but in a 10-year all-out war against the group by the ultra-right paramilitaries, allegedly backed by the military and civilian power elites, more than 3,500 leaders and sympathizers were killed" (pages 3-4).


Country report. Colombia 2000, 3: "A decision by the president...to propose a referendum to call for the dissolution of the legislature in late March 2000 proved to be a miscalculation. The president has been weakened by a loss of credibility and support as a result, and his coalition in Congress has disintegrated...On May 8th the interior minister, Néstor Humberto Martínez, who had spearheaded the referendum proposal, resigned... The government then withdrew its referendum text from Congress, but this failed to end the crisis, which deepened on May 18th when the opposition threatened to call for an early presidential election in 2001" (page 11).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 6 June 2000: "Opposition to [the anti-corruption referendum] was stronger than expected, with congress retaliating by putting forward several censure motions on ministers...In response, the government tried to withdraw its initial proposal and bypass congress by getting enough signatures to call a referendum, by the popular route...Humberto de la Calle has been recalled from London to be the new interior minister, but he will find it virtually impossible to recreate the grand coalition in congress. Congress has now called for its own referendum, including a clause on a presidential election in 2001...Government credibility has also been seriously strained and Pastrana’s authority has been undercut with the president close to becoming a lame duck" (page 5).


NotiSur—Latin American affairs 2000-7-14 (electronic version): "On June 30, the US Congress approved US$1.3 billion in aid for Colombia. Ostensibly earmarked for stopping the flow of illegal drugs from Colombia to the US, the aid will likely be used in the Colombian government’s longstanding battle with insurgents" (page 1).


Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 10 October 2000: "U.S. President Clinton has cleared the US$1.3bn aid bill for the drugs war in Colombia. The president chose to waive human rights conditions imposed by congress and the military will not have to prove that links with the paramilitary groups have been severed before the aid is granted" (page 5).


NotiSur—Latin American affairs 2000-9-8 (electronic version): "US president Bill Clinton made a ten-hour visit to Cartagena, Colombia, Aug. 30, the first visit to the country by a US president in a decade. Following the approval of US$1.3 billion in mostly military US aid, Clinton’s visit was a show of support for Colombian President Andres Pastrana...The trip sought to boost support for Pastrana’s US$7.5 billion Plan Colombia...to fight drug trafficking, continue peace negotiations with the insurgents, strengthen the economy, and improve the justice system" (page 1).

October: departmental election

Duque Escobar 2000: "La cifra de ciudadanos inscritos para el próximo 29 de octubre es de 3.251.656"(page 193). "Resumen de ciudadanos inscritos a nivel nacional: elecciones octubre 29 de 2000" (page 194). Gives number registered in each department. "En el proceso electoral del 29 de octubre se elegirán 30 Gobernadores, 502 Diputados a las asambleas departamentales, 943 Alcaldes municipales, 12.118 Concejales y 6.748 Ediles o miembros de Juntas Administradoras Locales, para lo cual se inscribieron ante la Registraduría Nacional 146 candidatos a las Gobernaciones, 1.556 listas para Asambleas, 3.427 candidatos a las Alcaldías, 29.901 listas para Concejo y 5.584 listas para Juntas Administradoras Locales"(page 196).

Keesing’s record of world events November 2000: Discusses the election and gives results (page 43848).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 12 December 2000: "President Andrés Pastrana is continuing to lose political authority and it will be increasingly difficult for him to regain the initiative in the second half of his term. Pastrana’s Conservative Party suffered serious defeats in recent elections for mayors and governors. The Liberal Party and independents each won 15 of the 30 departmental governorships, with the Conservatives failing to win any. In Bogotá, the mayoral election was won by independent Antanas Mockus, who previously served as mayor between 1995 and 1997...The elections themselves were relatively peaceful and the turnout was higher than expected at close to 50%. In the run-up to the polls, however, there were widespread reports of intimidation as the guerrilla and right-wing paramilitary groups sought to influence the contest. At least 20 candidates were killed and over 200 kidnapped, while hundreds more were persuaded to withdraw" (page 5).

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 10 number 40 November 3, 2000: "In municipal elections Oct. 29, Colombians elected governors in 30 of the 32 departments, 965 of the 1,092 mayors, 502 regional deputies, and 12,118 municipal councilors. Many of the winners were independents challenging the two traditional political parties—the Partido Conservador and the Partido Liberal—which are increasingly blamed for Colombia’s woes. Results were seen as a serious setback for President Andres Pastrana and the Conservadores...About 48% of Colombia’s 23 million registered voters went to the polls, a typical midterm election turnout in the nation of 40 million inhabitants... During the campaign, more than 20 mayoral candidates were killed by paramilitaries or guerrillas and 15 were kidnapped. About 100 candidates withdrew from the elections following death threats...The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) control the south, the paramilitary Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) hold much of the north, while the ELN dominates the west. In all about 40% of the country’s 1,089 municipalities are under the domination of one or another armed group" (page 5). Describes impact of these groups on the elections (pages 5-7). "Independents claimed victory in mayoral races in four of Colombia’s five largest cities. They also won 10 of the 30 governorships, and triumphed in nine departmental capitals. The Partido Liberal won 19 governorships and the mayoral post in 18 departmental capitals. The big loser was the Partido Conservador, which only won a single governorship and only two provincial capitals. The Conservadores’ losses included two of their strongholds—the governorship of Antioquia and the mayoral post in Medellin, where in both instances the Partido Liberal won...Independents’ victories included Bogota [Antanas Mockus]. Other independent mayors elected include John Maro Rodriguez in Cali, Humberto Caiaffa in Barranquilla, and Ivan Moreno Rojas in Bucaramanga. In the western department of Cauca, Floro Tunubala will become the country’s first indigenous governor. In one of the most unprecedented victories, shoeshiner Luis Eduardo Diaz Chaparro was elected to one of the 42 seats on the Bogota City Council, receiving the 12th-highest number of votes among 228 candidates" (page 7).


Country report. Colombia 2001, 1: "Although the congressional opposition has backed peace efforts in principle, it has claimed that Mr Pastrana’s failure to broaden participation in negotiations has weakened the process. Mr Pastrana responded in November by forging an alliance called the Frente Común por la Paz..., which includes members of both the government and opposition parties...On November 14th the talks were again suspended, but this time by the FARC, to put pressure on the government to move against the right-wing paramilitary armies of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia...On November 25th the president of the cattle ranchers’ association...proposed reviving citizens’ militias, which were created in 1980s to fight the drug cartels" (page 11). "During the first week of November the ELN was forced to release the civilian hostages it had held since September...as the military closed in on the guerrillas" (page 12).

Latin American monitor. Andean group volume 17 number 12 December 2000: "In a further sign of weakening government authority, the planned referendum on the peace talks was cancelled at the last moment. The ballot had been approved, but was then cancelled by the national registry, which claimed there were insufficient resources or time to organise it. The government, however, was concerned there would be an overwhelming rejection of the strategy and it was a political calculation to abandon the vote" (page 5).


Country report. Colombia 2001, 1: "Although peace talks were still suspended, Mr Pastrana decided to extend the deadline (from December 7th to January 31st 2001) for a decision on whether to continue with the demilitarised zone, which was originally granted to the FARC to get talks started in December 1998" (page 11). "Mounting demands for the termination of the demilitarised zone were further fuelled by the murder, on December 29th, of a PL congressman and president of a congressional peace commission, Diego Turbay...On December 23rd the ELN released 42 policemen and soldiers whom it had held hostage for two years...However, in light of the FARC’s abuses since it was granted a demilitarised zone..., opposition to the creation of another demilitarised zone is staunch" (page 12). "The paramilitary AUC continues to seek political status, but the government maintains that it will not give it political status or include it in the peace talks" (page 13).

NotiSur—Latin American affairs volume 11 number 2 January 19, 2001: "On December 23, the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) released 42 police and military personnel in what some called the first success of Pastrana’s efforts...The ELN operates mostly in the northern states of Bolivar, Cesar, Antioquia, and Santander, the eastern Orinoco River Basin and the southwestern states of Valle, Cauca, and Narino. Key to ELN-government talks is the establishment of a new demilitarized zone. The government has agreed to the zone, but residents have put up stiff resistance, concerned that it would heighten violence in their region" (page 2).