Colombia Hopes of peace and stability
Developments in Colombia since 2016 have been generally positive. Security has improved in large parts of the country, foreign businesses are investing more in Colombia's economy, and tourist numbers are on the rise. The improvement of the security situation is particularly marked in rural areas, where children are able to go to school again and people are now able to leave their homes in the evenings.
This has become possible thanks to a peace deal concluded between the government and the country's largest guerrilla group, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), in 2016.
Prior to that, Colombia had suffered for more than 50 years under an armed conflict between government security forces, left-wing guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitary groups. More than 260,000 people were killed in the fighting, and more than 80,000 "disappeared", with no information available on what became of them. Some eight million Colombians were displaced by the conflict, most of them (98 per cent) inside their country.
The hope is now that it will be possible to build lasting political and social peace in Colombia, resolve existing conflicts non-violently, and appropriately address crimes and human rights violations of the past. However, there have been a number of setbacks in the recent past. A breakaway FARC group announced that it would take up arms again, and in November and December 2019 a number of general strikes took place because people were dissatisfied with the current government.
Colombia plays an active role in important global development processes such as the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations climate negotiations. In response to the country's reform efforts, it was declared a "global partner" of NATO in May 2018, and in 2020 it was admitted to the OECD as a new member.
Relations with Germany
Germany and Colombia have close political, economic and cultural relations. Colombia is one of Germany's development cooperation partner countries, meaning that there is a programme of close cooperation based on intergovernmental agreements. The programme of cooperation currently focuses on peacebuilding and conflict prevention, environmental policy and resource conservation, and sustainable economic development.
German development cooperation with Colombia
At the government negotiations in November 2018, Germany and Colombia decided to set up an alliance for peace and sustainable development. Its focus is on supporting the peace process. In order to bring the alliance to life, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) committed some 535 million euros to Colombia, including 500 million euros in the form of reduced-interest development loans. This is twice the level of funding committed in 2016. In addition, the BMZ is providing about 55 million euros for the work of civil society and faith-based organisations and political foundations.
Bilateral cooperation focuses on the following priority areas:
- Peacebuilding and conflict prevention
- Environmental policy and protection of natural resources
- Sustainable economic development
Germany's activities focus on regions particularly affected by the conflict – Norte de Santander on the Venezuelan border, and Meta and Caquetá in central Colombia.
Colombia also takes part in the BMZ's "Migration for Development" programme. This programme assists people who wish to use the knowledge they have gained in Germany for the benefit of their countries of origin, for instance by returning there to work as specialists or set up a business, or by working from Germany to assist their countries of origin.