This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Last Updated:2/22/01
Peace Timeline: Pre-1999
1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002

October 1997

In a non-binding ballot accompanying municipal elections, the vast majority of voters -- 10 million Colombians in all -- voice support for a peaceful end to Colombia's conflict.

May 1998

On the one-year anniversary of the murder of two human rights workers, thousands of Colombians take to the streets to demand peace. The peaceful protests are the largest in Bogotá in decades.

June 15, 1998

With popular clamor growing for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, peace becomes a key issue in Colombia's ongoing presidential campaign. Candidate Andrés Pastrana reveals that an emissary, future High Commissioner for Peace Víctor G. Ricardo, met with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Manuel Marulanda Vélez (alias "Tirofijo," or "Sureshot").

July 9, 1998

Pastrana (right), now president-elect, travels to the mountains of rural Colombia to meet with FARC leaders, including Marulanda (left).

July 15, 1998

Two leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN, Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group) sign an agreement in Mainz, Germany, with forty Colombian business and civil-society leaders. The "Puerta del Cielo" accord commits the ELN to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, particularly through the hosting of a "convention" with civil-society and government leaders at some future date.

July 26, 1998

A group of labor, business and civil-society leaders meets with paramilitary representatives in Nudo de Paramillo, the headquarters of paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño. The resulting "Nudo de Paramillo Accord" expresses paramilitary support for an eventual peace negotiation and for an end to attacks on civilian populations.

Carlos Castaño

July 30-31, 1998

Civil-society groups host a "Permanent Assembly for Peace" in Bogotá. The event, designed to increase non-governmental participation in Colombia's peace process, draws more than three times the expected number of participants.

October 8, 1998

Government and guerrilla representatives continue discussions about a FARC proposal to pull all security forces out of five municipalities in southern Colombia, creating a temporary "clearance zone" for the holding of peace talks. The municipalities are Vistahermosa, La Macarena, Uribe, and Mesetas in Meta department, and San Vicente del Caguán in Caquetá department.

The guerrillas' clearance plan requires that the "Cazadores" Infantry Battalion vacate their headquarters in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá. The government, however, insists that the 130 troops stationed there be allowed to remain.

Approximate location of FARC "clearance zone" (in green; map from MapQuest)

October 11-12, 1998

The ELN meets again with Colombian business and civil-society leaders, this time in "the mountains of Colombia" (made possible by a temporary pullback of Army troops). The ELN agrees to develop its negotiating agenda by hosting a "convention" in Colombia in February 1999, attended by hundreds of civil society and government representatives.

October 15, 1998

The government and FARC agree to demilitarize the five municipalities, except for the Cazadores Battalion. While the government pushes for the presence of unarmed soldiers at the Battalion, the FARC insists on a full demilitarization.

October 18, 1998

The ELN peace process is dealt a severe blow after the group blows up an oil pipeline in Machuca, Antioquia state, accidentally triggering a fireball which kills at least 45 people.

November 7, 1998

The first 90-day demilitarization period officially begins in the five municipalities where talks with the FARC are to occur. Except for those stationed in the Cazadores Battalion, all soldiers and housed police in the newly demilitarized zone are recalled. The FARC conditions the start of official talks on the removal of the Cazadores Battalion and on government agreement to a controversial prisoner exchange.

December 1, 1998

Attending the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Cartagena, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen meets with his counterpart, Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Lloreda. The officials sign an agreement for closer U.S.-Colombian military cooperation. The agreement creates a formal Bilateral Working Group between both countries' armed forces, which is to meet periodically, and pledges U.S. assistance for the creation of a counternarcotics battalion within the Colombian Army.

December 13-14, 1998

Philip Chicola of the U.S. State Department's Andean Affairs Office meets secretly in Costa Rica with FARC representative Raúl Reyes. The meeting was requested by the FARC via the Colombian government. Chicola conveyed the U.S. government's will to continue pursuing its counter-drug strategy in Colombia, and urged the FARC to halt aggression against U.S. citizens in Colombia and to demonstrate a clearer commitment to the peace process.

December 14, 1998

FARC leader "Tirofijo" and Ricardo agree to hold talks between the two parties beginning January 7, 1999. Ricardo agrees to withdraw the Cazadores Battalion, apparently without consulting the army.

1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002

See also:

"An Overview of Recent Colombian History," from the Colombia Human Rights Network website.

"Colombia: A Country Study" - US Library of Congress

State Department Background Notes: Colombia

CIA World Factbook 1998: Colombia

CIP's New and Noteworthy Page, including links to current Colombia news

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