Thousands of people in Colombia at risk from the massacres

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The massacres that left twelve dead last Monday in the departments of Bolívar and Antioquia, confirm the risks that thousands of people entail living in certain regions of Colombia, as the Ombudsman’s Office has warned.

Until last August 31, the entity had issued 45 early warnings for acts of violence in 20 of the 32 departments of the country, three of them on the municipalities of Simití (Bolívar) and Zaragoza (Antioquia) where on Monday two were perpetrated massacres.

The culprits

Despite the alerts from the Ombudsman’s Office and the demand from civil organizations that these areas be fully intervened by the State, the Government insists on pointing out the drug trafficking as the main fuel behind the 53 massacres that occurred this year, according to figures from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz).

“It is necessary to point out that in many of them (the massacres) the criminal hand of drug trafficking is seen because it involves retaliation between bandits, or because the cause is the reckoning, or because they kill each other to keep the routes, the inputs, or the final product, “Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said in the Carmen de Bolívar.

In a neighborhood of that town in the Caribbean department of Bolívar, other people were also shot on Monday night. four young when they were sitting on the terraces of their houses, of which two died on the spot and another two in the hospital.

Risk scenarios

The Ombudsman’s Office issued an early warning on June 9 on “risk scenarios” due to “the presence and actions of the transnational crime group ‘Los Venecos’, the local armed organized crime groups, the Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) “in Simití and other municipalities of Bolívar.

The agency then warned about the vulnerability of the migrant population in the south of that department, a region controlled by armed actors who are involved in a dispute over criminal activities such as drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Despite that bell, three men, including two Venezuelans, were butchered on Monday in a village in the Monterrey district, which is part of Simití.

In that area, the Ombudsman’s Office points to “Los Venecos” as the group responsible for recruiting, transporting andsexually exploiting women and adolescent migrants who are victims of human trafficking, a crime that represents high economic gains for criminal gangs in the region.

Guerrilla and paramilitaries

The risk in Bolívar increases when the most vulnerable population He enters rural areas controlled by the ELN, since this guerrilla is forced to recruit to swell its ranks.

“The strategy of THE N It is due to the need to fill gaps in territorial control left by the FARC-EP after its process of reincorporation into civil, social, political and economic life, as well as its interest in containing the offensive of the National Army, which through the Mars Task Force seeks to regain territorial control of the area, “explained the Ombudsman.

In this complex situation, the paramilitaries AGC, an organization that apparently promotes the formation of local organized crime groups, which it subsequently subcontracts, assigning them specific roles such as controlling sites dedicated to the sale of drugs.

In this strategy, criminal gangs mainly take advantage of young migrants to deceive them with promises of employment and end up being induced to illegal activities related to extortion, hitmen and drug trafficking.

Populations at risk

The risks in the municipality of Zaragoza, which belongs to the troubled region of Lower Cauca Antioqueño, where five people were massacred on Monday, had also been warned by the Defensoría.

The organization published on January 9 and August 31 two alerts in which it indicated the increase in the violence against teenagers, Afro-descendants, peasants, social leaders and migrants, derived from the dispute between the AGC and the Virgilio Peralta Arenas Bloc (BVPA), also known as “Los Caparrapos.”

The Ombudsman’s Office has observed so far in 2020, a “substantial change in the dynamics of illegal armed actors in Lower Cauca Antioquia” and especially since the second half of 2018 the presence of several of these groups in Zaragoza has made it possible for them to develop. various sources of violence.

Clashes between criminals

In the territories on which the Defensoría issues early warnings, groups such as the ELN and dissident factions of the FARC who make tactical agreements with other criminal gangs to strengthen themselves.

“They also enter into confrontation with successor groups of paramilitarism and the public force, with important impacts on the exercise of human rights of the civil population “, warns the entity.

For the organizations that are in the field, it is clear that the acts of violence are not only due to the dynamics of the criminal gangs but also to the abandonment of the state incapable of satisfying basic needs and promoting the social and economic development of the region.

Abandonment of the State

In Lower Cauca Antioquia, for example, the highway network tertiary institutions are in a precarious state, warned the Ombudsman, a situation used by illegal groups to mobilize their members, drugs and weapons.

The Ombudsman’s Office stressed that to enable this movement, the majority of rural communities of the area supports restrictions on their mobility at night.

These territories have in common the historical exclusion development and social welfare projects, which has led criminals to find them conducive to boosting illegal economies and imposing their interests with blood and fire.

Despite the fact that the Defensoría constantly warns about the entry of armed groups into areas previously occupied by the FARC, which impose their control and intimidate the civil populationThe state presence continues to be a general plea from communities living in the midst of the crossfire.

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