Colombia

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
Python, Litening, Derby, B499 Mortar, Nimrod Anti-Tank Missile

Companies:

Additional Companies:
Cognyte, Soltam Systems

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Colombia

Introduction

Israel and Colombia are maintaining close economic and military relations. Israel exported among other fighter jets, drones, missiles and cyber security systems to Colombia. Israel also trained and educated Colombian military and police officials. 

Israel-Colombia Relations

Israel and Colombia have an extensive trading relationship, facilitated by a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in June 2013. This was ratified by the Congress of the Republic in June 2017, and entered into force on 11 August, 2020.[1]SICE: Trade Policy Developments: Colombia-Israel The agreement states that 100% of the commercial exchange in both countries for the year 2024 will be free of customs duties.[2]Colombia and Israel formalized free trade agreement

Total trade between the two countries in 2016 was $103 million ($88.9million imports; 15.2 million exports); this does not include Colombian sales of coal to Israel[3]World Bank Open Data which, in 2015, amounted to 89% of Colombian exports.[4]Lo que dejó con “seguridad” la visita de Netanyahu

In August 2020 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Colombian then-President Ivan Duque held a joint videoconference and launched a new free trade agreement between the two countries. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the agreement would “create opportunities for the Israeli economy in various fields including agriculture, technology and medicine”.[5]Middle East Eye : Israel and Colombia: The ever more special relationship   It was announced that Duque planned to open a trade and innovation office in Jerusalem in November 2021– Bogota’s first innovation center abroad– to mark the ratification of the free-trade agreement between the two countries.[6]Colombian president to open innovation office in Jerusalem next week[7]Colombia’s president opens country’s first innovation office abroad in Jerusalem A day before the inauguration of the new office in November 2021, the Israeli venture firm OurCrowd hosted President Duque (as well as a delegation of ministers and entrepreneurs) in Jerusalem to sign a new agreement that would establish a tech incubator backed by the Colombian government.[8]OurCrowd inks new deal to strengthen tech ties with Colombia

Military Relations

Military ties with Colombia began in the late 1970s and expanded significantly in the 1980s. This included 3 Arava planes in the 80’s, 28 Kfir fighter jets between 1989 and 2017, missiles, bombs, and much more.[9]SIPRI Arms Transfers Database This involved not only the sale of arms & other war material, but also Israel’s involvement in the formation and training of armies and paramilitary groups which were responsible for serious violations of the human rights of civilians in Colombia.[10]El papel de Israel en la represión mundial- International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) Contracts were made despite the fact that an audit by the National Audit Office in 2000 of one of the earlier contracts with IAI found “inconsistencies and absence of control mechanisms.”[11]La conexión israelí During the period 1950-2018, Colombia was the 10th largest importer of weapons from Israel; from 2010-2018, the fourth largest.[12]SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

Colombia also joined a technological development project between the Colombian Air Force, the US company Sikorsky and the Israeli companies IAI and Rafael for the production of the Arpia III and IV artillery helicopters, which began to be deployed for operation within the internal armed conflict in May of the 2002.[13]Youtube- Arpia III FAC fuerza aérea Colombian In addition, by 2013, Colombian armed forces had at least 50 drones in operation for surveillance, including in 2012 four Hermes drones from the Israeli Elbit Systems,[14]Explainer: Drones in Latin America followed by the purchase of two more Israeli drones the following year.[15]SIPRI Arms Transfers Database

In 2013 high officials of the Colombian government and the armed forces held meetings with representatives of several companies in the Israeli arms sector, including IAI, IMI and Elbit.[16]High officials of the Government and Defense of Colombia meet with companies in the sector in Israel

In September 2020 the General Command of the Colombian Military Forces announced that Israeli army instructors had been working with Colombian special forces to reinform “training in counterterrorism and combat techniques”.[17]CFGM Colombia and Israel strengthen ties of training and military cooperation It was also reported that the Israeli company Elbit offered workshops for the Colombian army in 2015.[18]Fourth division of the Colombian national army; Telematics and Communications Seminar in the Fourth Division; January 2015

In July 2021, Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, Chief of the Israeli Army infantry and parachute corps visited Colombia with the aim of making strategic military alliances.[19]Israeli Army Highlights Colombian Military Training

Colombia, along with 25 other nations including Israel, is taking part in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, the world’s largest maritime exercise hosted by the US Third Fleet off the coast of Hawaii and Southern California.[20]Israel taking part in RIMPAC 2022, world’s largest maritime exercise

Colombian army commanders and officers that were trained by Israel[21]Training of Colombian troops in Israel

  • Colonel Diego Luis Sanabria Rodríguez , Director of Science and Technology of the National Army’s Education and Doctrine command: technical training in electronic warfare and voice security systems in Israel.
  • Brigadier General Robinson Alexander Ramírez Cedeño, Commander of the Education and Doctrine Command: Participated in the planning of operations in the Israeli Army in Israel.
  • Colonel Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Arévalo: Has been trained in Artillery Fire Direction System (ATLAS) from the Azimuth Technologies Ltd. company in Israel

Cyber Security

Since 2003, The Bilateral Working Group, a Political and Military Dialogue between the two countries, has worked on cybersecurity issues, along with issues such as “rehabilitation of those injured in combat, military education, protection of critical infrastructure, and joint research and development.”[22]Memorias Al Congrego 2014-2015

In December 2021, Rolling Stone reported that Facebook banned the Israeli cyber intelligence firm Cognyte, along with about 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to the firm, from its platform; according to a six-month investigation by Facebook security researchers, Cognyte’s customers–some based in Colombia– “have targeted journalists and politicians around the world.”[23]Facebook Cracks Down on Israeli ‘Surveillance for Hire’ Operations

Colombia’s national police uses Cellebrite’s UFED technology.[24]Investigators In Colombia Use Digital Intelligence to Find Relevant Evidence Faster, Collaborate & Shorten Time to Prosecution Cellebrite sells forensic services and markets its cybersecurity and intelligence products to Colombia.[25]Diseño e Implementación de Laboratorios de Informática Forense ADALID In 2017 Cellebrite conducted a training for the Colombian National Police about investigations of computer crimes and theft of cell phones.[26]Policia Colombia encuentro regional de expertos en investigaciones contra delitos inform.

Usage of Israeli Arms

Kfir fighter jets: There is evidence that Israeli drones along with Kfir planes have been used to repress peasant populations, flying overhead during demonstrations.[27]Gobierno de Colombia: ¿El campesinado del Catatumbo es un objetivo de ataque militar?. In 2021 Colombian Kfir fighter jets were launched to intercept a plane belonging to Russia’s intelligence agency, that violated Colombia’s airspace.[28]Colombian Kfir fighters scrambled to intercept Russian plane

Hermes drones: In use of the Colombian Air Force (FAC).[29]Rachel Glickhouse;Explainer: Drones in Latin America August 2013

Verint Systems: set up the Puma interception system for the Colombian National Police. The Israeli company NICE Systems expanded the interception capacity of this technology to be carried out on a large scale.[30]Informe Especial- Demanda y oferta: la industria de la vigilancia al descubierto

Curacao:   A Colombian company through which Verint has sold its Vantage & Rlian data collection products, which also served to constitute the Integral Digital Recording System of the Colombian National Police.[31]Detalle del Proceso Número: 29 FR 2011 Journalists were captured in the following years in these interception rooms.[32]Sobre las “chuzadas” y la Policía

UFED: In use by Colombian National Police.[33]Investigators In Colombia Use Digital Intelligence to Find Relevant Evidence Faster, Collaborate & Shorten Time to Prosecution

Sandcat: Five units assigned to Police and eight units to the army.[34]Two agents injured after an attack on a Police Sandcat vehicle in Colombia

In addition, Global CST Ldt., headed by former Israeli army general Israel Ziv, offers training and consultancy in intelligence and security-related fields, and has been training the Colombian army. Global CST and Ziv appear to have played a role in freeing Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held hostage by FARC.[35]Colombia Hostage Rescue: The Israeli Angle

In April 2021, Colombia, through its Arms Task Force, carried out a live demonstration of its arms and defense capabilities in the area of La Guajira, in the north of Colombia bordering to Venezuela. The Colombia army conducted live fire exercises, including Israeli mortars and guided missile systems as Soltam Systems’ B499 81mm mortar, IAI’s Nimrod 2A anti-tank guided systems and Rafael’s Spike MR/LR systems.[36]Colombian Army deploys armored vehicles and howitzers on the border with Venezuela

Human Rights Violations

The human rights history of this country has been marked by political violence, absence of due process, and at times a general lawlessness that has made it perpetually unstable. Coupled with Colombia’s domestic problems, U.S. involvement in its ‘war on drugs’ has exacerbated the situations that already were at a boiling point. With an ongoing power struggle between the government, the military and the drug lords, it is no exaggeration to describe Colombia as in a constant state of war. All activists and marginalized people are under steady attack from all sides as they strive to secure for themselves and for their country a safe and peaceful future.

The 52-year armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government officially ended with a peace accord in 2016. Despite an initial overall decline, conflict-related violence has taken new forms and serious abuses continue. Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, particularly in rural areas, bear the brunt of ongoing violence and repression.[37]Colombia- Events of 2019

In 2019, civilians in affected parts of the country suffered serious abuses at the hands of National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, FARC dissidents, and paramilitary successor groups. Human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists have faced death threats and violence. The government has taken insufficient steps to protect them. Violence associated with the conflicts has forcibly displaced more than 8.1 million Colombians since 1985. Impunity for past abuses, barriers to land restitution for displaced people, limits on reproductive rights, and extreme poverty and isolation faced by indigenous communities remain important human rights concerns in Colombia.

As of September 2019, the Attorney General’s Office had opened over 2,000 investigations on alleged unlawful killings by army personnel from 2002 through 2008. Between those years army brigades across Colombia routinely executed civilians in what are known as “false positive” killings.[38]Colombia- Events of 2019

Although marriage equality was affirmed by a 2016 judicial decision, Human Rights Watch reported in June 2022 that LGBT people continue to suffer high levels of violence and discrimination.[39]The Americas Should Unify in a Marriage Equality Bloc Amnesty International reported that gender-based violence against Venezuelan refugee women had increased from 166 cases reported in 2017, to 2,430 in 2018 and 4,165 in 2020.[40]Facts and figures: Gender-based violence against Venezuelan refugee women in Colombia and Peru

Situation of Human Rights Defenders

In 2019, OHCHR documented 108 killings of human rights defenders, including 15 women and two LGBTI defenders.[41]Colombia- UNOHCHR Attacks on human rights defenders had already intensified during 2018, when 115 killings were confirmed by the UN Human Rights Office in Colombia. The killings of female human rights defenders increased by almost 50 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018.[42]Colombia: Human rights activists killings

In 2021 alone, 138 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia.[43]More rights defenders murdered in 2021, with 138 activists killed just in Colombia

In July 2022, Amnesty International launched an Urgent Action campaign in defense of environmental defenders and activists in Colombia that have faced armed attacks and threats.[44]Colombia: Protect environmental defender at risk





References
1 SICE: Trade Policy Developments: Colombia-Israel
2 Colombia and Israel formalized free trade agreement
3 World Bank Open Data
4 Lo que dejó con “seguridad” la visita de Netanyahu
5 Middle East Eye : Israel and Colombia: The ever more special relationship
6 Colombian president to open innovation office in Jerusalem next week
7 Colombia’s president opens country’s first innovation office abroad in Jerusalem
8 OurCrowd inks new deal to strengthen tech ties with Colombia
9 SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
10 El papel de Israel en la represión mundial- International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
11 La conexión israelí
12 SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
13 Youtube- Arpia III FAC fuerza aérea Colombian
14 Explainer: Drones in Latin America
15 SIPRI Arms Transfers Database
16 High officials of the Government and Defense of Colombia meet with companies in the sector in Israel
17 CFGM Colombia and Israel strengthen ties of training and military cooperation
18 Fourth division of the Colombian national army; Telematics and Communications Seminar in the Fourth Division; January 2015
19 Israeli Army Highlights Colombian Military Training
20 Israel taking part in RIMPAC 2022, world’s largest maritime exercise
21 Training of Colombian troops in Israel
22 Memorias Al Congrego 2014-2015
23 Facebook Cracks Down on Israeli ‘Surveillance for Hire’ Operations
24 Investigators In Colombia Use Digital Intelligence to Find Relevant Evidence Faster, Collaborate & Shorten Time to Prosecution
25 Diseño e Implementación de Laboratorios de Informática Forense ADALID
26 Policia Colombia encuentro regional de expertos en investigaciones contra delitos inform
27 Gobierno de Colombia: ¿El campesinado del Catatumbo es un objetivo de ataque militar?
28 Colombian Kfir fighters scrambled to intercept Russian plane
29 Rachel Glickhouse;Explainer: Drones in Latin America August 2013
30 Informe Especial- Demanda y oferta: la industria de la vigilancia al descubierto
31 Detalle del Proceso Número: 29 FR 2011
32 Sobre las “chuzadas” y la Policía
33 Investigators In Colombia Use Digital Intelligence to Find Relevant Evidence Faster, Collaborate & Shorten Time to Prosecution
34 Two agents injured after an attack on a Police Sandcat vehicle in Colombia
35 Colombia Hostage Rescue: The Israeli Angle
36 Colombian Army deploys armored vehicles and howitzers on the border with Venezuela
37 Colombia- Events of 2019
38 Colombia- Events of 2019
39 The Americas Should Unify in a Marriage Equality Bloc
40 Facts and figures: Gender-based violence against Venezuelan refugee women in Colombia and Peru
41 Colombia- UNOHCHR
42 Colombia: Human rights activists killings
43 More rights defenders murdered in 2021, with 138 activists killed just in Colombia
44 Colombia: Protect environmental defender at risk