The demobilisation of the FARC guerrilla group has lowered the overall terror threat in Colombia but the risk to resources firms is on the rise, according to Jimena Blanco, head of Latin America with above-ground risk consultancy, Verisk Maplecroft.
Speaking to Mining Journal, she said the incoming government had been critical of the deal its predecessors brokered with the FARC in 2017 and had shown no signs of making similar deals with other armed organisations, essentially opening up a turf war. Resources firms could be caught in the crossfire.
"Since the demobilisation, the number of incidents is down but the resources sector's share of attacks has gone up," Blanco said.
"So, it's clear the groups that remain at large are targeting extractives companies.
"When you have a situation where a major group demobilises, you have a power vacuum and other groups move to fill that vacuum. The main risk right now is there will be a greater number of groups fighting each other for control of trafficking routes … and plantations … in remote areas."
Blanco said resources companies also needed to be clear on their strategies for dealing with the humanitarian crisis along the Venezuelan border and the potential fallout from the introduction of legislation that officially discounted local referendums as part of the consultation process.
On the positive side, she said the new government was pro-business and looking to introduce a friendlier fiscal environment to make Colombia's extractives sector more competitive.
Jimena Blanco leads Verisk Maplecroft's Americas research team, with regional and thematic experts based in the UK and Mexico. She is the Americas expert on Brazil and the Southern Cone, and frequently provides advice to multinational companies and multilateral institutions on political risk in Latin America. She participates in diplomatic, academic and business forums, addressing issues of regional and country-specific concern. Jimena also makes regular contributions to the British and foreign media.