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3. Armed conflict and peace processes in the Americas


Overview, Marina Caparini [PDF]

I. Key general developments in the region, Marina Caparini [PDF]

II. Armed conflict and the peace process in Colombia, Marina Caparini [PDF]

III. Armed conflict in Mexico, Marina Caparini [PDF]

The Americas presented a complex and mixed picture for peace during 2020, with worsening conflict in certain countries, but less violence in some, partly as a result of Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdowns. In others, armed violence continued at a similar level to that in 2019. Two countries—Colombia and Mexico—had several parallel non-international armed conflicts on their territories. 


The region hosted three multilateral peace operations: the United Nations Verifi­cation Mission in Colombia, the Organi­zation of American States Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, and the UN Integrated Office in Haiti.



The 2016 peace accord between the Govern­ment of Colombia and the Revo­lution­ary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP) brought an end to a non-international armed conflict that had endured for over 50 years. However, imple­mentation of the peace agreement con­tinued to encounter problems in 2020. Non-international armed conflicts with other armed non-state groups and para­military organizations, including the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), the Popular Liber­ation Army (Ejército Popular de Liber­ación) and the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia), continued. Some FARC–EP dissidents joined armed groups, and violence against civil society actors increased. 



In Mexico there were three non-international armed conflicts: between the Government of Mexico and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación), between the govern­ment and the Sinaloa Cartel, and between the two cartels themselves. Homicides declined slightly in 2020 but remained at a very high level, while government efforts to counter the cartels became increasingly militarized. A new National Guard created in 2019 had around 100 000 personnel by the end of 2020, controlled by a military operational command. 


Criminal violence and political unrest

Homicide rates across the region varied significantly. In 2020 several countries in the Americas, such as Jamaica, remained among those with the highest homicide rates in the world, while others, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, saw a significant reduction in homicides. 


There was targeted political violence towards human rights activists and social movement representatives in some countries in 2020, including Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico. As a result of Covid-19-related lockdowns, 2020 did not bring a repeat of the often-violent mass demonstrations and riots that occurred throughout 2019 in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador, which had been driven by public frustrations with poor economic conditions, growing inequalities and political corruption. Nevertheless, popular protests broke out sporadically in response to political crises in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. There were allegations of harsh public-order policing responses in several cases. 

Dr Marina Caparini