2004 1994 February – Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos wins the presidency. June – Operation Camaleón frees three military and police hostages held for more than 12 years. September – Colombian security forces step up their fight against FARC leaders, killing secretariat member Víctor Suárez (aka Mono Jojoy), and up to 20 other guerrillas. The “Southern Bloc” led by Pedro Antonio Marín (aka Manuel Marulanda Vélez) renames itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This group will surpass all other guerrilla and paramilitary threats in the country. 2012 2005 2008 February – Peace talks collapse and President Pastrana orders FARC out of the DMZ hours after the group hijacks an aircraft and kidnaps a senator. Traveling into the former DMZ to campaign, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt is kidnapped by FARC. By Dialogo October 01, 2012 2008 Political assassinations, rioting and rural unrest in Colombia mark a period known as La Violencia (the violence) in which approximately 200,000 people are killed. Liberal peasants form a number of self-defense organizations that are influenced by communist radicals. FARC grows rapidly and initiates a series of devastating assaults on police and army bases. The U.S. Congress approves $1 billion in military aid to President Pastrana’s $7.5 billion “Plan Colombia” to fight drug trafficking and the guerrillas threatening the safety and security of Colombians. Another $300 million from Washington is intended to promote economic development, judicial reform and human rights improvements. 1984 1987 Historic peace talks between the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrilla group that began in October 2012 prompted Diálogo to take a look back at the 50 years of conflict. Held in Oslo, Norway, and Havana, Cuba, with international monitors Venezuela and Chile, the eyes of the world are watching to see if the Western Hemisphere’s longest conflict will finally come to an end. 1998 President-elect Andrés Pastrana meets with FARC leaders for peace talks. Pastrana would later grant FARC a demilitarized zone (DMZ) – a safe haven in southern Colombia measuring 42,000 square kilometers. Three years of peace negotiations with FARC begin. 1966 2010 The government and FARC sign La Uribe peace accords, under which FARC is permitted to form a legitimate political party, the Patriotic Union (UP). 2002 1982 May – FARC calls for a strategic shift in which the group will employ guerrilla warfare tactics in rural areas and provoke revolution in the cities, with a view to taking power through mass insurrection. Financing for the guerrilla war includes increasing income from drug production and trafficking. August – President Belisario Betancur comes to power and initiates cease-fire negotiations with FARC, the EPL and M-19 guerrilla groups. May – Alvaro Úribe wins the presidency on an aggressive counterinsurgency platform. FARC has an estimated 22,000 members when he assumes office. FARC kidnaps the Dutch consul in Cali and demands a $1 million ransom. The group continues abducting wealthy farmers, using kidnapping for ransom as a major funding source. 1948-58 2001 1975 Right-wing paramilitary groups assassinate UP politicians. FARC resumes its campaign of violence. A report by the International Crisis Group concludes that around 60 percent of operational FARC forces are in some way involved in the coca or poppy trade. 2000 June – Colombia passes the Law of Victims and Restitution of Lands. Then-FARC leader Alfonso Cano praises the legislation as a move toward the agrarian reform the FARC has long fought for. November – FARC leader Guillermo Leon Saenz (aka Alfonso Cano) is killed in a military operation. President Santos declares his killing the most historic blow to the guerrilla movement. 2003 2011 February – Thousands of Colombians across the country march in protest against FARC. March – A Colombian cross-border strike (Operation Phoenix) results in the death of senior FARC member Luis Devía (aka Raúl Reyes) and the seizure of his computers. FARC’s founder, Pedro Antonio Marín, dies of natural causes. FARC secretariat member Manuel Muñoz Ortiz (aka Ivan Rios) is killed by his own men. FARC is accused of using its safe haven as a training ground, a base for attacks and a coca-growing region. Three Irish Republican Army members are convicted of providing explosives and training to FARC fighters. February – FARC detonates a car bomb in a garage inside the Bogotá club El Nogal, killing 35 people and injuring many more. June – President Úribe unveils his “Democratic Security” policy. July – The Colombian Army frees FARC’s highest profile hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, plus three U.S. contractors and 11 Colombian troops in Operation Jaque. April – The first operation of President Úribe’s counterinsurgency Plan Patriota begins in the former DMZ. The plan, helped by $700 million from Washington, aims to weaken FARC by stepping up military action against the group. December – Ricardo Palmera Pineda (aka Simón Trinidad), the most senior FARC guerrilla captured to date, is extradited to the U.S. after being captured in Ecuador. February – FARC declares the end of kidnapping for ransom, although hostages are still believed to be in their captivity. June – Colombia passes Legal Framework for Peace to provide a pathway for demobilization and reincorporation of guerrillas into civil society. The legislation is seen as a pathway to peace talks. February-August – The Colombian Government and the FARC hold more than 60 exploratory meetings in secret in Havana, Cuba, to determine a way forward for the peace process. October – The Colombian Government and the FARC meet in Oslo, Norway, to begin peace talks. Negotiations continue in Havana, thereafter.