When Iván Duque was elected president of Colombia in 2018 he had a lot on his plate. He was, at once, trying to reduce violence and drug trafficking; implement crop substitution and coca eradication programs, (which wasn’t exactly popular with many of his people); and manage an increasingly hostile relationship with Venezuela.
At the same time, the 2016 peace accord former President Juan Manuel Santos struck with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — which ended Colombia’s fifty-year war with the guerilla group, a conflict that killed over 200,000 Colombians and left seven million displaced — was unraveling. The violence that came after the agreement was signed came mainly from FARC fighters who refused to disarm as well as other groups who filled the vacuum that the peace accord created. These groups not only attack civilians, but they also attack each other.
Just over two years after the historic agreement was signed, the United Nation’s human rights commissioner reported that at least 400 human rights activists (whom the Colombians called “social leaders”) had been killed. The Colombian ombudsman put that number at closer to 710. These social leaders were advocates for everything from the environment to the rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian people.
Ultimately, a proposed tax increase, high unemployment, continued inequality, and increased crime led to plummeting approval ratings for Iván Duque. Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego was elected president of Colombia in June 2022 and took office on August 7, 2022.