“Security got out of hand”: The harsh criticism against Iván Duque for the government’s response to the ‘armed strike’ of the Clan del Golfo

The extradition of the former head of the Clan del Golfo, Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, alias ‘Otoniel’, not only brought as a direct consequence the transfer of the leader of that criminal organization from Colombia to the United States. Since May 5, this group of origin The paramilitary declared an ‘armed strike’ and besieged more than one hundred municipalities in 11 departments of the country, in an unprecedented violent action that provoked serious questions against the State security forces.

The media and social networks have released images of entire communities confined, armed civilians in the streets maintaining a curfew, businesses closed and roads blocked by cargo vehicles that were seized and set on fire. Until this Monday, six people have been killed, according to the report of the Ministry of Defense.

In the first days of the offensive by the Clan del Golfo, one of the main drug-criminal organizations in Colombia, the local authorities clamored for the immediate presence of the Public Force in their regions due to the forcefulness of the violent actions and the little effective response that could be given. from the towns.

The “armed strike” and the “sensation of anxiety”

After three days of meetings of regional security councils with state authorities, it was last Saturday when the Colombian president, Iván Duque, from the Police Directorate, referred to what happened, downplaying it at first.

Duque assured that the so-called Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) were trying to “generate intimidation through isolated and cowardly acts”, in order to “have maximization through social networks and media to desperately show a strength they don’t have.”

Despite the fact that the governors and mayors since the “armed strike” began have asked the central government to act in various ways, the president of the South American country invited them in his address to not lend themselves to the “bullying game of the strongholds of the Clan del Golfo” which, according to him, intended to “generate a feeling of anxiety in the country”.

What has the government done?

Although the Colombian president called what happened “isolated acts” and an action with a more media than real profile, his resolutions pointed in another direction. That same Saturday he reported that “more than 52,000 Army and Police men” would mobilize to the “critical points to restore confidence in trade and other affected activities”.

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Similarly, he announced the creation of “a cell of the specialized search block” to capture the leaders of the Clan del Golfo, ‘Siopas’ and ‘Chiquito Malo’, and offered a reward of 5,000 million pesos (1.2 million dollars) for information that allows his arrest.

Since Duque’s speech, dozens of videos have been posted on the social networks of the Colombian Armed Forces and the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, with the record of the military response condensed in the ‘Democracy Plan 2022’, which contemplates the presence and custody in departments such as Antioquia, Bolívar, Meta, Guaviare, Vaupés, Córdoba and Sucre.

Likewise, the Public Force has presented a balance of its activities since last Sunday. In it report More recently, it is reported that 141,000 tons of cargo that remained detained as a result of the “armed strike” were mobilized and that 180 members of that narco-paramilitary group have been “captured, neutralized and brought to justice.”

In his trills, the Minister of Defense has had a speech more aligned with the show of force than the presidential one. In several tweets, while flying over northwestern Antioquia, Molano asserted that the Clan del Golfo “intends to sow terror and constrain Colombians“, that the Public Force “has all its capabilities to protect Colombians” and that it will put an end to the leaders of this illegal armed group.

state absence

The government’s action against the ‘armed strike’ that culminates this Tuesday, as announced by the Clan del Golfo itself, has been harshly criticized in the press and on social networks. The different analyzes consider that state action has been late and inefficient.

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In it editorial El Espectador talks about the “materialization of the absence of the Colombian State throughout the territory”, as has been constantly pointed out by human rights defense groups, groups and local authorities, in the face of the violence that prevails in the areas rural areas where illegal armed groups are vying for control.

The text also mentions the “incapacity” of the state to “exercise the monopoly of force“. “The coup of authority was evident, it sowed terror in several departments and showed that the security policy of President Iván Duque, inherited from his predecessors, fell short,” says the newspaper’s opinion piece.

Juliette de Rivero, representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (UN), also spoke on this matter, and has urged the State “to take timely measures to protect and guarantee the rights of the affected communities, especially in rural areas.

“Confinement and Terror”

In social networks the situation has not been different. From various sectors of national life there is dissatisfaction with the actions to contain the violence of the last days, less than a month before the presidential elections, and they have tried to explain the reasons why the group that was led by ‘ Otoniel’ has achieved such an outreach in recent days.

Opposition senator Iván Cepeda assured that the government had failed to act to prevent the criminal actions of the Gulf Clan.

Along the same lines, opposition congresswoman Katherine Miranda asserted that the government authorities “got security out of hand.”

In a tweet, the Colombian journalist Laura Ardila Arrieta has referred to days of “confinement and terror” and an attack with “reaches never seen before.”

On the other hand, columnist Laura Quintana considered that it is not true that “where paramilitarism dominates there is no State“. In his opinion, what has happened is the creation of “a security state, completely infiltrated by parastatals.”

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Diana Sánchez Lara, director of the Minga Association, an organization for the defense of human rights, agrees with this statement, who in a tweet affirms that the armed strike is the consequence of four years of “strengthening and expansion” of the AUG, “thanks to the support of the national government and the Public Force”.