July 1991 A new constitution is enacted. It establishes a few new institutions, such as Inspector General, Human Rights Ombudsman, Constitutional Court and Superior Judicial Council. It also legalizes divorce, prohibits extradition of Colombians wanted for trial in other countries, and guarantees indigenous peoples' democratic rights.
December 1993 Pablo Escobar the leader of the Medellin drug cartel and, for some, the world's king of cocaine is killed by the police while trying to escape from an arrest.
July 1994 Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar is killed in the municipality of Medellin, the capital of Antioquia Department and the second-largest city in Colombia, 10 days after accidentally scoring a goal against his own team in the World Cup competition held in the United States.
August 1994 Ernesto Samper Pizano is elected president.
May 1996 Attorney General Orlando Vasquez Velasquez surrenders to state security officials on charges that he accepted thousands of dollars from leading drug traffickers before and during his post as attorney general. He is freed in August 1996 on a procedural technicality.
November 1995 A former senator and ambassador to Washington, DC, Alvaro Gomez Hurtado, who had written editorials in an opposition newspaper arguing that the president should resign over allegations that the Cali drug cartel had given millions of dollars to his 1994 election campaign, is assassinated. President Ernesto Samper declares a state of emergency after the assassination.
June 1998 Andras Pastrana wins the elections and becomes president.
July 1998 President Pastrana meets with Manuel Marulanda Velez, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), which is one of the two major guerilla groups operating in the municipalities of Colombia and engaging in drug production and trafficking. They agree to establish a demilitarized zone ("despeje") where they can hold peace talks. In November, the government establishes a zone in the southeast to move peace talks along. The zone is off-limits to the army.
January 1999 An earthquake hits the country and almost 1,000 people die. Armenia and Pereira are the cities mostly affected by the disaster.
October 1999 The government announces "Plan Colombia," which aims to reduce narco-terrorism, ensure economic recovery, and increase democracy and human rights.
February 1999 Police arrest Jorge Asprilla-Perea and 18 other suspected members of the "Los Niches" drug cartel. Asprilla is extradited to the United States in October 2000, where he is convicted of importing or distributing more than 50,000 kilograms of cocaine with a street value worth more than US$1 billion. He is sentenced to 30 years in a U.S. federal prison.
September 2001 Former Culture minister Consuelo Araújo Noguera, who was the wife of Colombia's inspector general, is murdered by leftist rebels while the security forces were trying to rescue her from the hands of FARC kidnappers.
January 2002 Orlando Sierra is shot by a gunman. He was the deputy editor and columnist for La Patria newspaper in the city of Manizales in the Caldas Department. He dies two days after the attack. Luis Fernando Soto receives a 19-year prison sentence, which is later reduced to nine years after he accepts a plea bargain for murdering the journalist. A joint investigation by seven prominent newspapers and magazines claims that local politicians, whom Sierra had frequently accused of corruption, may have ordered his killing.
February 2002 After FARC guerillas hijack a commercial aircraft, the president orders the military to attack FARC and re-assert control over the demilitarized zone.
May 2002 Alvaro Uribe Velez, former mayor of Medellin and governor of Antioque Department, is elected the new president.
May 2002 A corruption scandal erupts, involving 71 cops, including the head of antinarcotics operations, General Gustavo Socha, who allegedly misappropriated more than US$2 million in U.S. aid.
February 2003 Three U.S. citizens working on counter-narcotics programs are kidnapped by FARC, whose activity continues to flourish in Colombia's remote and undeveloped rural areas.
April 2003 Paramilitaries gun down a watchdog radio journalist, Jose Emeterio Rivas, who accused Julio Cesar Ardila, the mayor of Barrancabermeja (a city in the Santander Department) of rigging a government bid in favor of paramilitaries. Prosecutors charge Ardila and three city councilmen for ordering the murder. He is released for lack of evidence at the end of the year.
April 2003 Guillermo Bravo Vega, a journalist working for the regional Alpevisión Radio and known for his reporting on misuse of public funds by municipal governments, is gunned down in the southern town of Neiva in Huila Department. One day later, the host of a weekly program on Radio Olimpica, Rengifo Revero, who was criticizing state security forces and local politicians for being corrupt, is shot down in the northern town of Maicao, in La Guajira Department.
June 2003 A national development plan called "Towards a Communitarian State" is approved by Congress. The plan includes steps to be taken to make public contracting process more transparent and accountable, and to tighten sanctions for public officials who cause loss in public funds.
August 2003 The attorney general's office decides to annul the March 2002 election of Congress and orders a recount of the votes, excluding the 20,503 ballot boxes where irregularities have occurred.
October 2003 Colombians vote down key referendum proposals supported by Uribe that aim to freeze government spending in order to provide more funds to fight corruption and wage war against the guerrillas.
November 2003 Congress adopts a law that regulates citizen watchdog groups. The watchdog groups can monitor all government agencies and private entities that conduct projects using public funds.
November 2003 The commander of the Colombian National Police, Gen. Teodoro Campo, and his four deputies are ousted by the president over a series of police corruption scandals.
December 2003 Colombia signs the U.N. Convention against Corruption.
February 2004 Sixteen officials are suspended in Cali, in the West Department of the country, for allegations that they have ties with drug traffickers.
March 2004 Carlos Arias, national director of the prosecution offices, resigns from his post due to allegations that he was pressuring prosecutors to change their rulings.
May 2004 Ricardo Palmera, a longtime Colombian guerrilla from FARC, is jailed for 35 years.
January 2005 Julio Hernando Palacios Sánchez, a radio news host who was reporting on local corruption, is murdered by two unidentified men aboard a motorcycle.
October 2005 The Colombian Constitutional Court approves the amendment made on the constitution by Congress that allows the president to hold office for two consecutive terms.
June 2005 Casanare Department Governor Miguel Angel Perez is arrested for allegedly receiving US$217,000 from paramilitary chief Martin Llanos to finance his 2003 political campaign.
July 2005 The president approves the Justice and Peace Law, which provides reduced punishments for guerrilla group members if they quit violence and return illegal assets in exchange for reduced punishments; the assets are to be used to provide compensation to victims of attacks.
January 2006 The inspector general's office starts investigating allegations that Edilberto Castro Rincon, governor of Meta Department, spent public funds for personal electoral benefit.
March 2006 Elections for the two houses of Parliament are held. The three leading parties that are loyal to president Alvaro Uribe National Unity, Conservative Party and Radical Change get majorities in Congress.
May 2006 Alvaro Uribe is re-elected as president for another four-year term.
February 2007 Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, allegedly one of the top leaders of the Norte del Valle cartel, Colombia's most powerful drug mob, is expected to be extradited from Cuba to Colombia. He is responsible for shipping almost 60 percent of Colombia's cocaine to the United States. He is also indicted on federal charges of drug trafficking and money laundering in a U.S. court.
May 2007 Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos admits that Carlos Gaviria of the Alternative Democratic Pole party (PDA Polo Democratico Alternativo), who finished second in the May 2006 presidential elections, is one of the victims of illegal police wiretapping. After the exposure of the scandal, the president forces the national police chief, Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, to resign and appoints Oscar Naranjo as the new chief of national police.
July 2007 The BBC reports, "Hundreds of thousands of Colombians staged nationwide protests against kidnapping and the civil conflict in July 2007, demanding the release of some 3,000 people still being held hostage by different groups."
August 2007 Santos says that FARC and its cocaine cartel have bribed military members to get information that will help them avoid capture. He adds that some military officials have been arrested in the case and more arrests are expected.
October 2007 According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), two Colombian journalists flee the country after receiving death threats. Threats to journalists come primarily from violent drug cartels, far-right death squads and leftist rebels. In recent years, dozens of journalists have been killed.
February 2008 In one of the most sordid of several recent cases of alleged corruption in the armed forces, a Colombian army colonel, Bayron Carvajal, and 14 soldiers are convicted of killing members of an elite, U.S.-trained counter-narcotics police squad on the orders of drug traffickers. The massacre is just one of several scandals over the last two years that not only has tarnished Colombia's armed forces but also raised questions about the U.S.-sponsored program called Plan Colombia that in 2000 began funneling millions of dollars in aid to Colombia to help combat international drug-trafficking.
March 2008 The BBC reports, "A Colombian cross-border strike into Ecuador kills senior Farc rebel Raul Reyes and sparks a diplomatic crisis with both Ecuador and Venezuela."
May 2008 The BBC reports, "Colombia extradites 14 paramilitary warlords to the United States, where they will stand trial on drug trafficking charges. The Unites States hails Colombia's assistance as evidence that Colombia deserves a trade deal. Colombian opposition, on the other hand, complains the extraditions mean that the militia leaders will not reveal their alleged links to the political allies of President Salvador Uribe."
Farc announces the death of its leader and founder, Manuel Marulanda.
April 2008 Seven soldiers are arrested on charges of helping an outlawed far-right militia kill rivals and smuggle drugs. Authorities are also seeking three more soldiers in this case.
June 2008 Five former members of the Uribe administration are charged with bribing former congresswoman Yidis Medina to persuade her to vote positively about a constitutional change needed in 2004 to allow Uribe to run for the presidency again in 2006. The most prominent of the accused are current Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio Betancourt, former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt De La Vega, and former director of Colombia's intelligence agency DAS, Jorge Noguera.
July 2008 Colombian army rescues the country's highest-profile hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, who was running for president when she was kidnapped in 2002 by Farc. Betancourt is among the 15 hostages freed in an operation in the Guaviare region.
McClatchy Newspapers reports, "33 members of Congress (about 10 percent of Colombia's House and Senate) are in prison for colluding with paramilitary groups that terrorize rural areas and control profitable cocaine-trafficking routes. Another 10 percent are under investigation, including the Senate president and even more cases are being added every month. The congressmen have been convicted or accused of taking payoffs from paramilitary leaders, having the paramilitaries finance their campaigns or having plotted with paramilitaries to kill political rivals."