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Colombian President Gustavo Petro

GZERO Media

Hard Numbers: Colombia's grim record, Ukraine reconstruction planning, Chinese beach tourists, India's strong arm

215: At least 215 community leaders and human rights activists were assassinated in Colombia last year, the highest level ever recorded, according to the government’s human rights ombudsman. Following the historic peace deal with FARC rebels in 2016, activists have been caught in the crossfire of power struggles over land vacated by the rebels. Leftist President Gustavo Petro took office last August pledging to quell the violence.

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GZERO Media

Then and Now: Colombian peace talks, Sri Lankans' anger, Macron's challenges

Three months ago: Colombia government, ELN resume peace talks

One of Gustavo Petro’s first orders of business after becoming Colombia’s president in Aug. 2022 was to bring “total peace” to the country. As a result, three months ago, his leftist government announced it was resuming talks with the National Liberation Army, a guerilla group known as ELN, for the first time since 2019. The talks were hailed as a big deal considering that the 2,400-member strong force has been at war with the government since the 1960s. The ELN was the largest guerrilla group not to sign onto a historic 2016 peace deal between the government and guerilla groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Since then, violence by the ELN and other armed groups financing their operations through drug trafficking and illegal mining has continued to terrorize Colombians, particularly in rural areas. Last week, however, Petro, a former guerilla, announced a breakthrough, saying his government had reached a peace agreement with the ELN for a six-month ceasefire. But the ELN came out shortly after and said no deal had been reached, stating that “a unilateral government decree cannot be accepted as an agreement.” Petro, for his part, has not responded to the group’s denial. Still, communication is a good thing, and the two sides say they will continue talks this month in Mexico. Petro discussed these issues, and more, in an interview with GZERO Media.

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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Khan charged, Petro the peacemaker, Finland's partying PM, Russia-Ukraine latest

Former Pakistani PM charged under terror act

A Pakistani judge charged Monday former ousted PM Imran Khan with violating the anti-terror act for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan has been granted bail, but he could face several years in prison if he's convicted of the terror charge. Since he was removed in a no-confidence vote in April, the former PM has been touring the country, leading huge rallies trying to pressure the government into calling a snap election. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country's most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, embroiled in a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation, and the country is on the brink of default on its sovereign debt. Khan's supporters have warned they'll march on Islamabad if he's arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday, when the former PM is scheduled to appear before the judge. Meanwhile, he's been banned from speaking in public and his speeches removed from YouTube.

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