A country almost four times as large as Italy, with a population that will reach 50 million in 2018, Colombia has entered a new phase of its history with the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and the bilateral ceasefire between the government and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (the ELN, or National Liberation Army), which came into effect Oct. 1 and remained in force until Tuesday. It is a history that, even if we limit ourselves to only the past 70 years, has been profoundly marked by violence.
The democratic foundations of the state are frail. The Colombian Republic has always been ruled by a tiny elite, and it has never had leftist governments. When Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, a leader with such an orientation, emerged within the Liberal Party and ran for the Presidency of the Republic, he was assassinated on April 9, 1948, by perpetrators who remain unknown.
His death sparked a revolt (the Bogotazo) which spread from the capital to various parts of the country, inaugurating the period known as the Violencia (1948-1958), a civil war between liberals and conservatives which led to around 300,000 deaths and which is the ultimate origin of the liberal guerrilla groups. The internal conflict (but not the Violencia itself) ended, with the assent of the strongest political and economic forces of the country, during the dictatorship of General Rojas Pinilla (1953-57), who, with his promises, managed to convince a part of the guerrillas to demobilize. Then, the National Front governments (1958-1974) took over from the dictatorship, based on the agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Party that they would alternate in forming the government, irrespective of the outcome of the elections.