Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 04/2012

Retooling U.S. Policy For Peace In Colombia

Milburn Line

February 2011

The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego


The ongoing insurgencies in Colombia began as classic Cold War confrontations in the 1960s based on historical inequities and land tenancy disputes, as well as the legacies of political and social conflict from the 12-year period known as La Violencia, following the assassination of political leader Jose Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. From the 1970s on the conflict developed now familiar patterns of kidnappings for ransom by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and attacks on civilians by the combatants on all sides, including paramilitaries protecting the interests of local elites and often working in coordination with the Colombian Armed Forces, as they fought over territory and drug production zones.