The armed groups in Colombia increased, strengthened and expanded their actions in the country in 2021 and 2022, warned the president of the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), Camilo González, who considered that the new government has a challenge “supremely great” to face the recomposition of these macrocriminal organizations.
“What we have noticed is an increase in the last three years in terms of the number of municipalities (…) and now they have a presence in up to 345 municipalities where ‘narco-paramilitaries’ carry out some activity”González told EFE this Tuesday when commenting on the report ‘Defiance of total peace, what the government of Gustavo Petro received, report on the presence of armed groups in Colombia 2021-2022’.
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Due to their armed and criminal actions, the strongest war groups in the country are the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) or Clan del Golfo, heirs to the paramilitary groups, the FARC dissidents and the National Liberation Army (ELN), although the latter registered a slight decrease in terms of presence.
The Petro government is currently negotiating peace with the ELN. For their part, the FARC dissidents are made up of groups that did not accept the peace agreement signed by the bulk of that guerrilla and the Colombian government in 2016.
According to the report, in 2021 the “narco-paramilitary” groups affected 332 municipalities in 2021. By 2022 their actions increased to 345. The “post-Farc” structures, which departed from the 2016 peace agreement, had actions in 141 municipalities and in 2022 in 161, while the ELN made itself felt in 184 municipalities in 2021 and dropped to 162 in 2022.
González explains that in 216 of the 1,103 municipalities in Colombia, armed groups carry out “high intensity” criminal activities and that means a significant increase, around 20%, since 2020″ in the case of narco-paramilitaries.
However, according to González, there is a much greater increase in the so-called FARC dissidences because their presence in municipalities of the country increased by 25%.
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“Overall, there is a recomposition of these armed groups to reach an impact with a high, medium and low intensity presence in the country with violent actions, territorial disputes, constraint on the population, attacks of different types from murders to displacement,” points out.
This rearrangement occurs due to multiple factors and is associated with drug trafficking mafias, illicit economies, corruption in contracting, arms and people trafficking, among others.
“All the mafias have chained themselves internationally to a greater extent and in the midst of the pandemic they managed to maintain themselves and expand their areas of influence,” Gonzalez maintains.
In this direction, he recalls that coca crops in Colombia grew by 43% in 2021, the year in which 204,000 planted hectares were registered, while in 2020 that figure was 143,000 hectares, according to the annual report of the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented in October.
“Cocaine production in the last two years has had an increase, in metric tons, of 15%,” details.
González, a wide connoisseur of the internal armed conflict, maintains that in order to go in the direction of ending the conflict, a “State policy, not just a government policy”.
Furthermore, the problem cannot be seen as a matter of armed groups, “but as a problem of a complex macrocriminality that also has the complicity of corrupt sectors and agents of the State, business and international networks.”
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To this must be added compliance with the peace agreement signed with the FARC and also developing “a public policy of human security both state and government action with large investments.”
In this sense, he advocates that the conflict should not be seen solely as a “matter of war” but you have to “Give a hand to marginalized populations and youth and in those territories develop large-scale investment plans that compete with the mafias.”
All of the above should be wrapped up with a “very strong anti-corruption policy inside and outside the institutional framework”.
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.