Colombia has experienced an intense intrastate conflict for over half a century. Whilst guerrilla groups have suffered several high-profile setbacks, they are still a powerful force and hostilities are not expected to cease in the near future.
Paramilitary demobilisation has been successful in many but not all areas. The armed conflict is fuelled by drug-related violence, organised crime and tensions with neighbouring Ecuador and Venezuela, which have been accused of supporting rebel groups. Relations with Venezuela, in particular, have worsened over recent months.
Former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who served since 2002 and operated a hard-line stance against the guerrilla forces and consistently maintained one of the highest approval ratings of any Latin American presidency, despite criticisms from human rights groups; has been replaced with Juan Manuel Santos, a former Defence Minister. Given his key role in the Uribe administration, security policy continuity is anticipated.