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Colombia Old History

 

The area that makes up today's Colombia was conquered by the Spaniards in the 16th century and became America's leading gold producer with the help of slave labor and oppression of the indigenous peoples. In 1819 the freedom hero Simón Bolívar brought the colony to independence. A violent struggle between liberals and conservatives led around the turn of the 1900s to the bloody "Millennium War". Then followed a period of peace.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Colombia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Colombia is on the crossroads between North and South America and was flooded early by different cultures. However, it was outside the range of the high cultures of the Aztecs and Maya people in Mexico and Central America as well as the Inca people in the Andes. Instead, several smaller cultures flourished in the area. At Puerto Hormiga, America's oldest known ceramic has been found, 5,300 years old. Some people early developed advanced agriculture, such as the Sinú people, who built ingenious facilities for irrigation.

The most prominent people at the arrival of the Spaniards in 1499 were chibcha, or muisca, who lived on the plateau around today's Bogotá (see Culture). The rumor of the indigenous peoples' gold craft caused the Spanish conquerors to subdue both the coast and the highlands in no time. Santa Marta on the north coast is Colombia's oldest city, founded in 1525, but already a decade later, a number of cities were built far up in the Andes, including Bogotá.

The Spanish colony was named New Granada. It first belonged to the Viceroy of Peru, but in 1739 it was elevated to its own Viceroy, which also included the present Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. In New Granada, more gold was produced than anywhere else in America. Enormous wealth was shipped from Cartagena, which became one of the most important and strongest fortified port cities of the Spanish Empire. In the other direction, African slaves were brought in to work in the mines.

Old History of Colombia

Already in the second half of the 16th century many Spaniards immigrated to New Granada. Most settled in the highlands as farmers. Through the encomienda system, urinals were forced to work for the settlers free of charge. Slavery and new epidemics killed many indigenous peoples.

The Creoles (Spanish kittens born in America) did not have the same rights as peninsulares (those born in Spain), and as the Creoles grew in number, tensions between the two groups also increased. When the French Emperor Napoleon occupied Spain in the early 1800s, several local Creole governments were formed in New Granada, but colonial power soon regained control of the colony. Only after Simón Bolívar's victory over the Spaniards in 1819 in Boyacá (near Bogotá) was the country's independence secured.

Bolívar's vision was to unite all areas that had broken away from Spain into a Latin American Union that could compete with the United States for influence and power. As part of this plan, the Republic of Gran Colombia (Greater Colombia) was formed, which consisted of the present Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador. After eleven years, however, Venezuela and Ecuador broke down and the leaders of Bogotá took the name New Granada. In 1886, the country was given its present name, the Republic of Colombia.

The 19th century was characterized by an often violent struggle between liberals and conservatives. Several civil wars were fought. The Millennial War of 1899-1902 was the cruelest one to date. When the Conservatives finally defeated their opponents, around 100,000 people had been killed.

In 1903, Panama broke out of Colombia. Difficult terrain and poor communications made it impossible for Colombia to defend the area. In addition, the United States intervened on Panama's side to guard its own interests in the construction of the Panama Canal.

After the Millennium War, 40 years of peace followed as the coffee and textile industry flourished.

2013

December

Bogotá's mayor kicked

Gustavo Petro is banned from holding political records for 15 years, after accusations of neglect of the city's garbage disposal. The decision is made by a body similar to the Swedish Chancellor of Justice. Petro must, through changes in the system, which resulted in no garbage collection for several days, disrupted the free market and endangered the health of the residents. Petro is one of the country's most influential left-wing politicians and a possible future presidential candidate, and he calls the act a right-wing coup. Tens of thousands demonstrate his support.

Farc announces new ceasefire

The guerrillas announce a month-long truce and criticize the government's refusal to cease fire. The day before, nine people were killed in a Farcattack against a police station.

November

Santos is up for re-election

The President announces his intention to stand in the May 2014 presidential election.

Point two of the peace talks finished

An important step is taken when the government and Farc settle on political participation for the former rebels in the future. Farc will lay down its weapons and turn it into a political party.

October

CD appoints presidential candidate

Uribe's Party Democratic Center appoints former Finance Minister Óscar Iván Zuluaga as its presidential candidate ahead of the May 2014 elections. Zuluaga makes clear that he does not believe in the peace talks.

September

Londoño among convicted Farc leaders

Nine Farc leaders are sentenced in their absence to 31-year prison sentence and high fines for an 2005 attack that killed six people. Grandfather Rodrigo Londoño is among those convicted, despite participating in the Havana negotiations. However, he is not arrested.

Colombia rejects ICJ decisions

Santos explains that Colombia cannot apply the ICJ 's decision to an area in the Caribbean (see November 2012) because it violates the Constitution. The play comes in a situation where the president is pressed and plays out the secure card of national sovereignty. He is supported by the people - and also by the archrival Uribe.

Growing protests against free trade

Protests against free trade agreements and agricultural policy are growing, tens of thousands of people have continued to demonstrate since the agreement with the EU was signed (see August 2013). Many social groups are partying for the farmers, but the protests also apply to education and pension reforms. Violence between police and protesters requires the deaths, and many are injured. Military is ordered out in the capital and on blocked roads. Santo's popularity in public opinion has fallen from 48 to 21 percent in a couple of months. After a few weeks, roadblocks are removed, and the government proposes a "national pact" for the development of agriculture and rural areas, in which small farmers are to participate.

August

Ready for peace talks even with ELN

After the ELN releases a kidnapped Canadian mining official, President Santos announces that the government is ready for peace talks even with the minor left guerrilla. One condition, however, is that all the kidnapped are released first.

Protests against free trade agreements with the EU

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate when a free trade agreement with the EU comes into force, in protest of the cheap imports they expect to follow in the free trade agreements with both the EU and the US (see May 2012). The farmers demand increased government subsidies.

July

The state admits abuse

The government is admitting for the first time that the state has committed serious human rights violations during the country's long conflict. However, President Santos emphasizes that this does not exempt guerrillas and militias from responsibility.

Investigation of the victims of the conflict ready

A state investigation into 54 years of armed conflict in Colombia shows that nearly 220,000 people have been killed. More than four-fifths of the victims were unarmed civilians. The investigation was set up as a result of a law on compensation for the victims of the conflict, which was adopted in May 2011.

Deadly battles between Farc and the army

Nineteen soldiers are killed in battle with guerrillas, despite ongoing peace talks. President Santos resolutely retaliates and sends troops reinforcements to arrest or kill guerrilla members.

Farcparti reappears

A court returns the legal status of the party Farcs and the Communists' old party the Patriotic Union (UP) (see Political system). This allows the party to take part in elections 2014.

June

Criticism against Natonarming

Colombia signs an information exchange agreement with NATO, which means that the Colombian military may participate in NATO exercises. Left-wing governments in the region have expressed harsh criticism of everything closer to the US-led defense alliance. Two years later, the Constitutional Court disapproves the settlement with NATO, mainly on technical grounds.

May

Settlement on land reform

The first breakthrough in the peace talks means that the parties agree on a commitment to economic and social development of the countryside, and that poor farmers should be provided with land. It is called "the beginning of a radical transformation of Colombia's countryside".

April

Most internally displaced people in the world

For the fourth year in a row, Colombia has more refugees within its borders than any other country. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council's estimate, there are between 4.9 million and 5.5 million people. In 2012, some 230,000 people are estimated to have moved home because of the armed conflict. At the same time, police figures show that the largest crime league, Los Urabeños, now has more members than ELN.

Demonstration in support of calls

Tens of thousands of people around the country express their support for the peace talks between the government and Farc. President Santos says he is willing to start talks with ELN as well.

March

Smaller crime gangs are increasingly threatening

President Santos says that the new paramilitary groups called "bacrim" (see Conflicts-Colombia) are losing their position. Instead of 27 major leagues there are now around 300 smaller groups.

ELN hostage is released

Two German brothers held hostage by the smaller left-wing guerrilla ELN are released. The ELN has increased the number of kidnappings and is considered willing to push forward a participation in the peace talks.

January

Armistice expires

Chief negotiator Iván Márquez regrets that Farc must return to warfare "no one wants" and re-urges the government to a mutual ceasefire (see November 2012). However, Farc has promised to stop kidnapping civilians against ransom.

Uribe under investigation for AUC connections

Prosecutors reopened an investigation into ex-president Uribe and his suspected conspiracy with right-wing militia groups when he was governor in the 1990s.

 
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