You are here

Colombia: News & Updates

Colombia has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (five million) due to the half-century internal armed conflict—the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere (since 1964). Control for territory and popular support among the three main groups (left-wing rebel forces FARC & ELN, right-wing paramilitaries, Colombian police/military) has left 220,000 killed, 75% of them non-combatants. Since 2000, the US has exacerbated the violence by sending more than $9 billion in mostly military assistance. Colombia, which has both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, holds strategic interest for the US for global trade and military posturing.


Learn more here.

News Article

The Colombian government has extended a cease-fire with the FARC-EMC rebel group until July 15. The cease-fire, part of peace talks in Bogota, requires the rebels to cease attacks on civilians in areas under their control. The FARC-EMC splinter group, not part of the 2016 peace deal, has around 3,500 fighters. Despite previous cease-fires, critics argue that rebel groups continue recruiting, extorting, and kidnapping civilians. The new cease-fire also prohibits threats to community leaders and restrictions on villagers' movements. Talks may address economic projects for rural transformation and sustainable development to combat deforestation.

News Article

This report explains how issuances of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are an effective tool to mitigate the effects of the multiple crises that Latin American and Caribbean countries currently face. SDRs are among the most important alternative financing mechanisms available within the international monetary system, as they can generate new resources without increasing debt levels. Untapped for decades, recent issuances in 2009 — to address the effects of the global recession — and in 2021 — to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic — reintroduced SDRs as a powerful instrument for addressing global emergencies. However, the scale of their impact could be much more significant.

The current context, marked by the climate crisis, economic stagnation, and rising external debt burdens, calls for a strong, coordinated, and global response by the international community. So far, however, the response has failed to meet these challenges sufficiently or adequately. Given these circumstances, a new SDR issuance becomes not only relevant but also necessary for ensuring that countries of the Global South receive the financial support required for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to achieve further issuances of SDRs, a coordinated push by Latin American and Caribbean countries, together with other countries and organizations in the Global South, is essential.

News Article

The implications of the Monroe Doctrine in Mexico, Central America, and Honduras, highlighting the failures of US policies like the Merida Initiative and drug war strategies. It emphasizes the devastating impact on these regions, resulting in violence, human rights abuses, and corruption. The focus is on adopting new paradigms, shifting away from punitive drug policies to prioritize human well-being, domestically and internationally. It also sheds light on the US influence in Honduras, pointing out interventions, support for corrupt regimes, and obstructing reforms. Furthermore, it addresses immigration, stressing the need for a humane approach rather than militarization. Recommendations include investigating DEA activities, reforming drug policies, anti-militarism measures, non-interference in Honduran affairs, and prioritizing human rights in immigration reforms.

News Article

Border security continues to be a hot button issue in Congress. And some congressional leaders are holding hostage other non-border issues because of their tough stance on immigration and desire to gut US asylum law. 

In last month’s newsletter, we shared an article about a one-page document that three Republican senators submitted to President Biden on November 6, summarizing the border and migration proposals they demand to include in the supplemental budget request that the president is submitting for the war in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and the US-Mexico border. The draconian measures include: ban asylum access for people who did not cross the border at ports of entry; ban asylum access for people who pass through other countries without seeking asylum there; heighten eligibility standards to pass a credible fear interview; expand migrant detention (including families and children); restrict temporary humanitarian parole.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) responded in a combined letter on December 14, denouncing that: “Republicans continue to hold funding for America’s allies hostage at the expense of migrants and to pass Trump-era border policies.”

Articles in this monthly newsletter: 1) ICE Air: update on removal flight trends. 2) How US Policy Toward Latin America Has Fueled Historic Numbers of Asylum Seekers. 3) WOLA Urges Congress to Protect Asylum and Update Obsolete Border Policies. 4) At the Border: Recent Incidents. 5) Governor Abbott Signs Law to Arrest Anyone in Texas without Immigration Papers.

See the Take Action items listed at the bottom of this newsletter. Our advocacy is needed to maintain some modicum of humanity in the nation’s immigration system and to address root causes of migration.  1) Stop Border Militarization. 2) Take Action Now Against Extreme Asylum Restrictions.  3) Help Migrants and Refugees in Cleveland. 

Read the full IRTF Migrant Justice Newsletter each month at .

News Article

Colombian President Gustavo Petro challenges traditional diplomatic norms in a beachside Dubai interview, emphasizing the urgency of addressing climate change. He advocates for a global shift away from fossil fuels, positioning Colombia as a model for decarbonization. Petro, known for his unconventional style and leftist views, proposes using financial institutions to reduce debt in exchange for environmental protection. Internationally, he plays a crucial role in COP28, supporting a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Despite ideological differences, Petro's approach aligns with a growing global consensus to phase out fossil fuels amid escalating climate concerns

News Article

Yuly Velásquez, an environmental activist in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, has survived three assassination attempts in two years for her efforts to expose water pollution in the industrial city. Colombia is deemed the most perilous country for environmental defenders, with 60 activists murdered in 2022. Latin America faces the highest number of killings, attributed to the region's active civil society and Indigenous groups. Despite Colombia's biodiversity and improved security post a 2016 peace treaty, criminal groups, drug traffickers, and corrupt officials persistently target activists. Velásquez, facing threats since denouncing irregularities in a city contract, emphasizes the environmental fight's importance despite risks. The government's response includes a protection program and the Escazú Agreement, yet killings rose in 2022, highlighting ongoing challenges. Velásquez remains determined, stating the fight must continue for the environment.

News Article

In this monthly newsletter, we include the fiscal year-end numbers from Customs and Border Patrol. CBP reports 2,475,669 “encounters” of migrants at the US-Mexico border from OCT 2022-SEP 2023. That’s up about 100,000 from last fiscal year. 

Let’s be clear. There is no “border crisis.” But there is a humanitarian crisis at the border.

The numbers don’t justify any increased funding for CBP. Federal agents are not having to chase down tens of thousands of migrants along the river bank or into the desert along the 2,000 mile border. A large portion of the “encountered” migrants (roughly 30,000 per month) have actually turned themselves in voluntarily at ports-of-entry to request political asylum. Presenting themselves at ports of entry (i.e., the “legal” way to cross) are these nationalities in this order: Haiti, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru.

But the waiting time to schedule an appointment at the border crossing (via the CBP One app) and then waiting for the actual appointment—this is causing tens of thousands of migrants to seek humanitarian assistance on the Mexico side of the border as they sit it out and wait.

As burdensome as the asylum process is, a group of US senators is trying to make it worse. They are threatening to stall any supplemental budget request that Biden is submitting for the war in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and the US-Mexico border. They say that won’t approve any Biden request unless it contains new border restrictions, including: more detention, family and child detention, restrictions on humanitarian parole, and banning the right to asylum for migrants who do not present themselves at ports-of-entry (note: this is clearly an illegal provision that violates both domestic and international asylum law.). 

See the Take Action items listed at the bottom of this newsletter. Our advocacy is needed to maintain some modicum of humanity in the nation’s immigration system and to address root causes of migration. 



Please consider supporting IRTF’s Migrant Justice work.

How to donate

You can DONATE now at

Venmo @irtfcleveland

PayPal @irtfcleveland


IRTF, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113