Colombia Still at War over Drug Trade Despite President’s Claims

By: Julián Villabona Galarza - Jan 16, 2017, 3:08 pm
Colombia's Pacific Coast has seen violent clashes over drug routes formerly controlled by the FARC (
Colombia’s Pacific Coast has seen violent clashes over drug routes formerly controlled by the FARC (Wikipedia).


Bahia Solano, a municipality located in Choco department on Colombian Pacific coast, is one of many tourist hotspots that has attracted lovers of adventure and ecotourism. However, for some time now its tourism sector has been threatened by violent clashes related to drug trafficking, as criminal gangs and ELN (National Liberation Army) guerrillas fight to control the territories abandoned by the FARC‘s (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) 57th front, which had long operated in that sector.

The website La Silla Vacía, reports that during the holiday season, 327 people belonging to the Afro-descendant communities of Hauaca and Nabugá were displaced from rural areas to urban areas; something which had not occurred in such magnitude for more than ten years.

Local resident Roberto Jimenez Bocanegra was captured and murdered by criminal gangs who were under the impression that a relative of his had given information to the Colombian authorities about the group’s drug trafficking activities. The coastal communities reported being the subjects of threats and intimidation, as new battle lines form in Colombia‘s lucrative and violent drug trafe

Bahia Solano mayor Liliana Ortiz at first refused to believe that the young man had been murdered and dismembered, but after corroborating the accounts personally, she reported the incident to the Colombian government, leading to increased persecution of area residents. Criminal gangs are also allegedly stepping up efforts to recruit young people in the area.

In the Darien Gap, located on the border between Colombia and Panama, the Nussi Purrú de Jurado indigenous reservation, has become a flashpoint in the changing face of the armed conflict. Its inhabitants are routinely threatened by ELN guerrillas for not allowing their entry into the area and refusing to allow drug routes to pass through their territory on the northbound route to Panama.

The guerrilla group has repeatedly tried to recruit several young people from the reservation. In the face of such recruitment efforts, cases have arisen where community leaders have gone to rescue local youths from the clutches of guerrilla groups, and returned them to their homes.

Nuquí, a famous tourism hot spot for whale watching, has degenerated into the scene of constant fighting between criminal gangs and the ELN. Both groups routinely intimidate local residents, steal their food, and sometimes even accuse them of being informants for other groups.

Despite the presence of the Colombian security forces, mistrust between people is so great, that local residents no longer feel safe in their own communities.

Source: La Silla Vacia

Julián Villabona Galarza Julián Villabona Galarza

Julián is a reporter with the PanAm Post with studies in Politics and International Relations from the University Sergio Arboleda in Colombia. Follow him: @julianvillabona.

Colombian Defense Minister Promises Massive Coca Eradication Efforts without Clear Strategy

By: Julián Villabona Galarza - Jan 16, 2017, 1:26 pm

EspañolDefense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas spoke this week about to the future of the drug problem in Colombia under the Santos-FARC peace agreement, saying he is confident the fight against drug trafficking will be effective despite the fact that the country's methods of doing so will not change. He told El Tiempo he is not worried about gangs seeking territorial control of drug trafficking zones despite the increase in territories covered by coca. Read More: Mauricio Macri: Argentine Labor Market Needs Urgent Reforms The minister also told the newspaper that he is optimistic about the peace deal despite recent events that have generated criticism, such as the relationship between members of the United Nations peace transition team and FARC, as well as clashes between criminal groups near demilitarized areas. According to Villegas, a plan — given the name "Victoria" — was implemented in May 2016 with the intention of ensuring that gangs do not obtain territorial control of coca fields and drug trafficking routes. Despite Victoria's success, the number of skirmishes between drug groups and law enforcement has increased in recent months. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); });   Despite the United States' controversial change in government, he and other officials said they believe they will continue to receive support for the peace deal moving forward, specifically in the form of economic aid. Colombia is currently trying to dissolve 10,000 hectares of coca fields through manual and mechanical eradication and crop substitution, as well as fumigation. Read More: Chavista Socialism Has Destroyed 570,000 Businesses in Venezuela The technique has not yet shown the expected results, he said, and will prove increasingly difficult moving forward. The replacement of 50,000 hectares of crops . will be increasingly difficult as long as coca is more profitable for farmers than other products. Source: El Tiempo

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