Political violence in Colombia after the 2016 peace agreement

Our interactive map shows the intensity and location of political violence across the country. Click on the departments to view the individual cases.

Using data from Colombia’s Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), a platform which promotes the freedom to exercise civil and political rights, this graphic illustrates the spread of violence against political candidates and pre-candidates in Colombia during the electoral periods for the 2015 and 2019 local elections.

Since the 1940s, Colombia has been no stranger to political violence. Spikes in violence can often be traced back to the conflict with the guerrillas, most notably during the terror campaign conducted in the 1980s and 1990s against the Patriotic Union, the left-wing party associated with the rebels.

Several years after the signing of the 2016 peace agreement between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, political violence persists.

The 2015 map depicts 34 instances of violence – not including threats – committed between October 27, 2014 and October 25, 2015 against candidates and pre-candidates running in the 2015 local elections. Of these 34 cases, there were 10 murders, 21 attacks, two disappearances and one kidnapping.

  • = 1 case
  • = 2 cases
  • = 3 cases or more

2015 Acts of violence

Antioquia

X

Jose Alirio Prieto

  • Municipality
    Bello
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido de la U
  • Act
    Murder

Diana Patricia Alvarez

  • Municipality
    Barbosa
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido/Alianza Verde
  • Act
    Attack

Alfonso Gonzalez Soto

  • Municipality
    El Carmen de Viboral
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    ASI
  • Act
    Murder

Andrés Guerra

  • Municipality
    Medellín
  • Position
    Candidate for governor
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Ángel Mesa Castro

  • Municipality
    El Bagre
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Convergencia/PIN/Opción Ciudadana
  • Act
    Attack

Arauca

X

Edgar Guzman Robles

  • Municipality
    Arauquita
  • Position
    Gubernatorial candidate
  • Party
    Convergencia/PIN/Opción Ciudadana
  • Act
    Attack

Bolívar

X

Mayerlis Angarita

  • Municipality
    San Juan Nepomuceno
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    ASI
  • Act
    Attack

Boyacá

X

Gilberto Bustos Castañeda

  • Municipality
    Puerto Boyacá
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido de la U
  • Act
    Murder

Caquetá

X

Luis Antonio Peralta

  • Municipality
    El Doncello
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Sin Partido (precandidato)
  • Act
    Murder

Sandra Milena Floriano

  • Municipality
    El Doncello
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Attack

Casanare

X

Arsenio Sandoval

  • Municipality
    Yopal
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Luis Ivan Roa Castro

  • Municipality
    Aguazul
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Polo Democrático
  • Act
    Murder

Cauca

X

Eliberto Narváez Hoyos

  • Municipality
    Patía
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for municipal council
  • Party
    Polo Democrático
  • Act
    Murder

Manuel Garces Granja

  • Municipality
    López
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    GSC
  • Act
    Attack

Huila

X

Silvio Gomez Claro

  • Municipality
    Pitalito
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

La Guajira

X

Juan Carlos Soto

  • Municipality
    Barrancas
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Attack

Magdalena

X

José Joaquín Vives

  • Municipality
    Santa Marta
  • Position
    Gubernatorial candidate
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Attack

Alfonso Alfaro Tejeda

  • Municipality
    Plato
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Attack

Meta

X

Esperanza Vargas Quimbaya

  • Municipality
    Villavicencio
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    GSC
  • Act
    Attack

Nariño

X

Helman Solarte

  • Municipality
    El Tambo
  • Position
    Candidate for municipal candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Murder

Giraldo Ojeda

  • Municipality
    Albán
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Murder

Sonia Zoraida Cifuentes

  • Municipality
    Policarpa
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Attack

Luis Carlos Lucero

  • Municipality
    Linares
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido/Alianza Verde
  • Act
    Attack

Norte de Santander

X

Diego Villamizar Salinas

  • Municipality
    Cúcuta
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Victor Julio Claro

  • Municipality
    La Playa
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Attack

Santander

X

Rafael Picon

  • Municipality
    El Playón
  • Position
    Candidate for assembly
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Sucre

X

Hugo Sanchez Alquerque

  • Municipality
    Los Palmitos
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Unión Patriótica
  • Act
    Attack

Tolima

X

Jorge Enrique Oliveros

  • Municipality
    Ataco
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Sin Partido (precandidato)
  • Act
    Kidnapping

Edwin Berrio

  • Municipality
    Ibagué
  • Position
    Candidate for assembly
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Attack

Valle del Cauca

X

Leonardo Nieto

  • Municipality
    Yumbo
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Sin Partido (precandidato)
  • Act
    Murder

Javier Serrano Copete

  • Municipality
    El Cerrito
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Disappearance

Iganacio Londoño Zabala

  • Municipality
    Cartago
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    GSC
  • Act
    Murder

Jair Meneses

  • Municipality
    Cali
  • Position
    Candidate for city council
  • Party
    ASI
  • Act
    Attack

Mirama Montoya Baltán

  • Municipality
    Buenaventura
  • Position
    Candidatefor local administrative board
  • Party
    Disappearance
  • Act
    Desaparición

2019 Acts of violence

Antioquia

X

Héctor Gómez Barrios

  • Municipality
    Medellín
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Murder

Nelson Enrique Gaviria Garcia

  • Municipality
    Betania
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Cambio radical
  • Act
    Murder

Hernando Orley García Vásquez

  • Municipality
    Toledo
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Coalición
  • Act
    Murder

Jhon Jairo Vásquez

  • Municipality
    Caucasia
  • Position
    Candidate for municipal council
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Attack

Arauca

X

Jahir Corredor

  • Municipality
    Saravena
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Bolívar

X

Belisario Arciniega García

  • Municipality
    Morales
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido de la U
  • Act
    Murder

Kaleth Mejía Gaibao

  • Municipality
    San Pablo
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Attack

Luis Eduardo Caldera Villaminzar

  • Municipality
    San Jacinto del Cauca
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido de la U
  • Act
    Murder

Caquetá

X

Hervi Abello Horta

  • Municipality
    San José del Fragua
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Coalición
  • Act
    Attack

Cauca

X

Cesar Lizardo Cerón

  • Municipality
    Suárez
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Attack

Ceferino Sánchez

  • Municipality
    Caloto
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for assembly
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Attack

Karina García Sierra

  • Municipality
    Suárez
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Murder

Yeison Obando

  • Municipality
    Suárez
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Murder

Rubén Darío Banguero

  • Municipality
    Caloto
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Colombia Renaciente
  • Act
    Attack

Cesar

X

Misael Liz Quintero

  • Municipality
    La Jagua de Ibirico
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Attack

Chocó

X

Tulio Mosquera Asprilla

  • Municipality
    Alto Baudó
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Secuestro

Córdoba

X

Jorge Herney Castrillón Gutiérrez

  • Municipality
    San José de Uré
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin Partido
  • Act
    Murder

Dumer Fernando Barco Palomino

  • Municipality
    Sahagún
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Líder sin Partido
  • Act
    Murder

Cundinamarca

X

Nelson Bermúdez

  • Municipality
    La Vega
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Coalición
  • Act
    Attack

Guaviare

X

Heynder Palacios

  • Municipality
    San José del Guaviare
  • Position
    Gubernatorial pre-candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Attack

Magdalena

X

Jesús Galindo

  • Municipality
    El Retén
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Reivindicación Étnica "PRE"
  • Act
    Attack

Nariño

X

Fabián Efraín Prado Rosero

  • Municipality
    Mallama
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    MAIS
  • Act
    Murder

Walter Rodríguez López

  • Municipality
    San Pedro de Cartago
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido de la U
  • Act
    Attack

Norte de Santander

X

Emiro del Carmen Ropero

  • Municipality
    Convención
  • Position
    Candidate for assembly
  • Party
    FARC
  • Act
    Attack

Betsaida Montejo Pérez

  • Municipality
    San Calixto
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    GSC
  • Act
    Attack

Bernardo Betancurt Orozco

  • Municipality
    Tibú
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Murder

Putumayo

X

Sonia Rosero González

  • Municipality
    Puerto Asís
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Murder

Santander

X

Nicolás Contreras

  • Municipality
    Barrancabermeja
  • Position
    Mayoral candidate
  • Party
    GSC
  • Act
    Attack

Pacifico Ayala Lance

  • Municipality
    Puerto Wilches
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Partido Liberal
  • Act
    Attack

Valle del Cauca

X

Hugo Eduardo Cedeño

  • Municipality
    Cartago
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Attack

Silvio Montaño Arango

  • Municipality
    El Cerrito
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Líder sin partido
  • Act
    Murder

José Daniel Gómez Cruz

  • Municipality
    El Cairo
  • Position
    Mayoral pre-candidate
  • Party
    Partido Conservador
  • Act
    Murder

Orlando Ordóñez Vanegas

  • Municipality
    Toro
  • Position
    Pre-candidate for town council
  • Party
    Cambio Radical
  • Act
    Murder

Silvio Alonso Álvarez

  • Municipality
    Versalles
  • Position
    Candidate for town council
  • Party
    Centro Democrático
  • Act
    Murder

Four years later, in the period between October 27, 2018 and October 18, 2019, there were, again, 34 acts of violence against candidates and pre-candidates. Of note, however, is the increase in murders — 16. Further evidence of the escalation of political violence can be found in the number of threats made, which increased from 79 to 102.

The perpetrators have been merciless: when Nelson Enrique Gaviria García — candidate to the municipality council of Betania, Antioquia — was shot to death in a taxi, sources say that the assailants that stopped the vehicle fired several bullets at a 14-year-old boy who was also sharing the taxi. In the municipality of Suárez (Cauca), a vehicle carrying mayoral candidate Karina García Sierra and young municipal council candidate Yeison Obando was shot at while it traversed a highway, before being set on fire. In addition to both of the candidates, three local activists and Karina García’s mother were also murdered in the attack.

Essential to the understanding of political violence in Colombia is recognizing its indiscriminate nature. MOE data shows no tendency on a national level to disproportionately target any political party or sector in either electoral period.

MOE data shows no tendency on a national level to disproportionately target any political party or sector in either electoral period.

With the majority of the crimes left unsolved, it is nearly impossible to identify the culprits. Given that so much of the violence occurred outside of territories where armed groups are present, there are suspicions that the responsibility for many of the cases lies elsewhere. Ángela Gómez Vega, an investigator for the MOE, explained to Latin America Reports that the “personal interests of individuals” was more likely to be a motivator behind the attacks than ideological antagonism between political parties.

To find out more about the factors explaining political violence in Colombia, read more on our interview with Ángela Gómez Vega here.

*Graphic design by Sebastian Castro and David Gonzalez

Read more: Colombia’s key local election outcomes mark a shift away from political elite

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