The murders of police and uniformed in Colombia It is a news that recurrently circulates in the local media. The government, citizens and civil society have condemned these attacks.
The hypotheses surrounding these murders are varied and some are related to the transition of government in Colombia. The inauguration of the elected president, Gustavo Petro, is on August 7. The authorities have related these events to the so-called “Pistol Plan”.
But what is happening in the country? What are the causes of the recent murders? What do the authorities say? The voice of america explains.
What is the “Gun Plan”?
It is a strategy of illegal armed groups to assassinate members of the Public Force, used for more than three decades in the country. According to the authorities, it has been applied by Pablo Escobar, the ELN and, more recently, the Clan del Golfo.
Camilo González, president of the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace in Colombia INDEPAZ, said to the voice of america that “They call the reward they offer to hitmen and different criminals to assassinate unarmed policemen in a situation of recourse, in any circumstance, and they offer them 35 million, 20 million, from a thousand dollars to 4,000 dollars for the murdered policeman” .
Jorge Restrepo, professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and director of the CERAC Conflict Analysis Resource Center, explained to the VOA that “it is rather a reactive exercise that probably responds both to the criminal interests of these groups and to a specific situation in time. It is not about a plan because we are not talking about a single organization, a single way of operating or concentrating on this type of action in particular areas.”
What has happened in the last days?
Police data indicates that 62 members of the institution have been killed this year, 36 of them in acts of service.
According to data from the CERAC Conflict Analysis Resource Center, 25 troops have fallen this year, 12 of them in July. And the public force has been the target of at least 75 attacks.
Restrepo, based on CERAC figures, says that as of mid-June there was “a disproportionate increase that we had not seen in at least seven years… reaching the total number of actions that can be counted in a year, at the end of July , to its highest level in the last five years. We went from a total number in the month of May, for example, when something had already increased from about 28 violent actions against the public force to about 80.”
The government has pointed to the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) or the Clan del Golfo as the presumed responsible for most of the murders (26 of them). This group began a retaliation, in October 2021, thanks to the capture of its top boss Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, known by the alias ‘Otoniel’, and continued after his recent extradition to the United States, at the beginning of May, of this year.
According to Defense Minister Diego Molano, other armed groups, such as the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) or the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), “have wanted to put a price on the lives of the heroes, in order to position themselves politically for a negotiation”.
For the Director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, behind the events would be alias ‘Chiquito Malo’ and alias ‘Siopas’, the two chiefs who dispute the power left by alias ‘Otoniel’.
According to the National Police, the Clan del Golfo offers between US$1,000 and US$5,000 for each dead police officer.
For what is this?
The Colombian authorities have indicated that the attack has been carried out in order to counter the government offensive to capture several leaders of the Gulf Clan.
On the other hand, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano Aponte, urged society to reject the facts and not allow them “to do so solely for the purpose of positioning themselves for future political negotiations.”
This, regarding the inauguration of the elected president, Gustavo Petro, who proposed “legal negotiations” so that drug trafficking organizations submit in exchange for criminal benefits.
According to Restrepo, several hypotheses are used. The first “is that they are using violence to prevent operations against them, either because they are seeking to traffic a significant amount of illicit drugs or because they are seeking to escape a criminal operation against one of their leaders.”
However, the fact that the violence has continued, “suggests that it probably has to do with the negotiation offers that the incoming government made during the campaign, after having won the Presidency of the Republic… And, of course, , has to do with the fact that in the face of a possible negotiation, any armed group tends to escalate violence to present itself as strong in a possible dialogue, so that it can extract greater benefits from that dialogue in its favor.
For his part, the INDEPAZ spokesman says that everything “is speculation.” For him, the attacks “have to do with the offensive that the government has carried out on some of these structures” and the division that existed between them as well. So, there is a process of rearrangement in some areas of its influence” in different territories.
Does it resemble Pablo Escobar’s tactics?
General Vargas says that the attacks against the institution have similarities with those experienced during the time of Pablo Escobar. “Similarly, I was at that time, Pablo Escobar, through a similar criminal plan, sought to avoid his capture,” the high-ranking official told the station. BluRadio.
However, the CERAC spokesperson explained to the VOA that what Escobar did, during the time of the Medellin Cartel, in the 1980s and early 1990s, was “in urban settings, pay hired killers, who are known here as sicarios, a payment for each of the successful attacks against members of the Public Force who were persecuting him and who were persecuting his organization. Today, it is something very different. They are violent actions against targets of opportunity, often with explosives, other times with snipers, other times in ambushes, in rural areas or in small towns in the areas where they operate.”
What measures have the authorities taken?
General Vargas Valencia said on Thursday that a reinforcement of 400 troops from the Carabineros Directorate was deployed to the most affected regions and that offensive operations against the Clan del Golfo continue throughout the country.
Another measure is the reward of 50 million pesos (11,700 dollars, approximately) for alias ‘Richard’, one of the alleged heads of the plan in Urabá Antioquia, south of Córdoba and Magdalena Medio.
Restrepo affirms that Colombians must “demand the armed groups to stop this violence outright, and the best way to do it is to tell the incoming government to take into account that any peace offer must imply an immediate demand that these armed groups stop violence against the police”.
For his part, the president-elect, Gustavo Petro, called on the Clan del Golfo on Friday to stop the attacks: “I hope it ends now. The ‘Gulf Clan’ is allowed a peaceful dismantling.”
“Killing young policemen is not the way. From here I tell them: suspend death, the way is life,” he added.