Colombia: key historical events
Page last modified 4/11/2020
See also Central/South America for other Latin American / Caribbean countries
6/2017, In Colombia, FARC rebels handed in their weapons, formally ending their insurgency.
11/2016, The Colombian Government and FARC signed a new peace deal in Cuba.
10/2016, In a referendum, the Colombian people rejected a peace deal between the government and Communist FARC guerillas
6/2016, A ceasefire in the 52-year long guerrilla war between the Colombian Government and Communist FARC rebels. The war had killed over 220,000 people and displaced 6 million Colombians.
2006, President Uribe won a second 4-year term in office.
2003, The Right-wing United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia began to disarm.
2002, Peace talks between the Colombian Government and FARC and the National Liberation Army broke down; the Colombian Army then invaded a demilitarised safe area granted to FARC as part of a peace deal.
26/5/2002, Right-wing independent candidate Alvaro Uribe was elected President of Colombia.
1999, The guerrilla war in Colombia intensified; Communist FARC supporters kidnapped some 3,000 people.
1998, Conservative Andres Pastrana Arango became President.
1997, In Colombia the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) Party was founded by three brothers whose father had been killed by FARC. The AUC went on to kill thousands of FARC supporters.
1996, Colombian President Ernesto Samper was cleared of charges that he received drugs funds for his election campaign.
1994, Ernesto Samper Pizano, Liberal, was elected President.
1992, Drugs cartel leader Pablo Escobar was arrested; however he later escaped, but was shot dead by police in 1993.
1991, The Liberal Party won elections. Constititutional reforms legalised divorce and prohibited the extradition of Colombian nationals. The democratic rights of indigenous peoples were recognised, but their land claims remained unresolved.
1990, After a violent election campaign, Liberal Cesar Gavira became President. He began an anti-drugs campaign.
1989, M-19 reached a peace agreement with the Government, which included a full pardon and legitimising M-19 as a legal political Party.
6/12/1989, In Colombia, 40 were killed by a bomb at the security police headquarters.
27/8/1989, The Medellin drugs cartel declared guerrilla war on the Colombian Government, after President Virgilio Barco reinstated extradition to the USA, a process abandoned by the courts after bribery and threats of violence.
1986, Virgilio Barco Vargas, Liberal Party, won the Presidency by a record margin, and ended power-sharing with the Conservatives. The Patriotic Union Party won 11 seats in Parliament.
1986, In Colombia the Patriotic Union Party, founded by FARC Communist rebels,won several elections. However its leaders were targeted by right-wing forces.
1985, M-19 guerrillas invaded the Ministry of Justice, gunning down 11 judges and 90 other people.
1984, The Colombian Minister of Justice was assassinated for enforcing an anti-drugs campaign.
1982, Communist FARC rebels in Colombia started initial peace talks with Colombian President Belisario Betancur.
1978, The Liberal Government began a campaign against drug dealers.
1975, Civil unrest as popular discontent with the Government increased.
5/1966, Communist guerillas under Manuel Marilunda joined with other left-wing rebels in Colombia to form the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). They raised money by kidnappings and drug trafficking.
1965, Left-Wing guerrillas formed the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Maoist Popular Liberation Army.
5/1964, Around 50 Communist rebels against the Colombian Government organised under the leadership of Manuel Marilunda.
4/5/1958, The Liberals and Conservatives agreed to a period of alternating Government in a National Front, with other Parties banned, until 1974. Alberto Lleras Camargo was chosen as President of Colombia
1953, A period of military dictatorship began, under Rojas Pinilla,lasting until 1957.
9/4/1948, Major riots in Bogota, Colombia, following the assassination of the popular Liberal-nationalist politician, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. La Violencia began, lasting until 1950; over 250,000 people died in this conflict. Martial law was declared under moderate-Conservative Mariano Ospina Perez; the pro-Nazi Gomez became President of Colombia in 1950.
1946. The Conservatives took power.
24/5/1934, Colombia and Peru negotiated over the disputed Amazonian port of Leticia, claimed by both countries.
1/9/1932, A band of Peruvians invaded the Colombian port of Leticia, on the Amazon; the Peruvian Government backed their action.
1930, Liberal President Olaya Herrera took power from the Conservatives in the country’s first peaceful transfer of power.
17/10/1903, Following the Colombian Senate’s refusal, in August 1903, of the US’s offer (June 1902) to buy the Panama Canal Zone for US$ 10 million, Panamanian dissidents travelled to Washington and agreed to stage a US backed secession of Panama from Colombia. The date for this secession was set for 3/11/1903 at 6pm, local time. The Panamanians were led by Dr Manuel Amador. President Roosevelt was angered by the Colombian rebuttal, and was said to have referred to ‘those contemptible little creatures in Bogota’.
18/9/1901, Venezuelan forces who had invaded Colombia were routed at La Hacha. President Castro of Venezuela was also facing internal dissention and was using the Colombian conflict as a means of uniting his country.
9/8/1901. Colombian troops invaded Venezuela. Colombian rebels had been using Venezuelan territory as a base.
15/9/1900, Arbitration by the French president settled a boundary dispute between Costa Rica and Panama (then a province of Colombia).
1/1900, Vice President Jose Marroquin seized control of government and deposed President Saclamente; he was imprisoned, where he died in 3/1902.
1899, Revolt against the One-Party Conservative rule (lasting 1886-1930). By the time this ‘War of 1,000 Days’ ended in 1902 in failure, 120,000 had died in 3/1902.
6/8/1898, Colombia and Peru signed a treaty of friendship and extradition of criminals.
21/11/1896, Colombia and Venezuela signed a treaty of friendship.
27/10/1892, Colombia and Italy signed a treaty of friendship.
16/3/1891, A boundary dispute between Colombia and Venezuela was resolved via mediation by Spain.
27/10/1888, Colombia and the UK signed an extradition of criminals treaty.
5/9/1885, Rebels in a brief civil war in Colombia surrendered and peace was made with the government.
4/1882, Senor Francisco J Laldua became President. However he died a year kater, and General Eusebio Otalora was nominated to complete his term.
20/7/1881, Colombia and The Netherlands signed a consular convention.
30/1/1881, Colombia and Spain signed treaty of friendship.
7/1861, Democrat forces captured Bogota, and set up a new government.
1859, Insurrection broke out in Colombia.
1849, The centralist Conservative Party, and the federalist Liberal Party, were founded.
1832, Internal conflict within Colombia, lasting until 1841.
21/11/1831, The Republic of New Granada was officially founded.
1830, Venezuela and Ecuador broke away from Gran Colombia.
1819, Simon Bolivar defeated the Spanish at Boyaca, securing the independence of Colombia. Gran Colombia was formed, which included Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador. Bogota was made the capital of New Granada.
1717, Santa Fe de Bogota became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada.
20/7/1810, Colombia (New Granada) declared its independence from Spain.
6/8/1538, Bogota, Colombia, was reached by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. It was then the capital city of the Muisca/Chichba people. He was exploring Colombia, searching for the fabled El Dorado. Quesada named the country New Granada.
1525, Spain began the conquest of Colombia, subjugating the indigenous Cibcha people of Colombia and Panama.
1499, First Spanish explorers reached what is now Colombia.