Gustavo Petro welcomes a country on fire. Colombia’s Gatinanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC, or Clan del Golfo as the Colombian state calls them) have been developing an unstoppable plan over the past month to attack police officers. At least 36 have died this year, most of them in the month just ended. They attack them from motorcycles in broad daylight. Many of the victims were just beginning their careers in the institution. A plan gunas the order of an armed group to systematically assassinate officials is called, is a term that is well known in Colombia because it has not happened for the first time, but it is now appearing on the brink of the start of a new government that will it has opened the door to possible approaches with all armed organizations as part of their commitment to “total peace”.
Gone are the bosses who ordered the killing of cops to declare war on the state. Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel did it in the 1990s and hundreds of police officers were killed. Although the Clan del Golfo, like Escobar did, pay for every dead uniformed officer, they have other intentions.
Luis Fernando Trejos, professor at the Universidad del Norte and conflict expert, explains that there are several hypotheses about the actions of the AGC, which mark the end of the government of Iván Duque and are presented as a challenge that the Petro executive is urgently dealing with got to. . “The pistol plan, extended to several areas of the country, is intended to show a repositioning in light of the arrival of the new government to engage in a political dialogue that demands recognition from all those in power. But it can also be read as retaliation against beatings the organization has suffered, as has happened before.”
In November last year, following the capture of Alias Otoniel, President Duque announced the “end” of the Clan del Golfo. He then said that there were only a few “redoubts” left for the organization to cease to exist, but it wasn’t. Since then, the armed group has not only proved it exists, but, as in May, has the ability to imprison entire communities or set in motion a plan to kill. “The Duque government was a failed strategy because it used the same policies used during Democratic Security [implementada por los gobiernos de Álvaro Uribe], whose mainstay was attacking strategic targets of high value: Capture or Kill. The specifics of the AGC were not understood, which has already shown that they are getting stronger with every hit,” says Professor Trejos.
The outgoing government’s plan succeeded in opening the headlines, but every time the death or arrest of a leader of an armed organization is celebrated in Bogotá, the region weeps, the expert says. “These old security strategies have been ineffective in stopping these new organizational forms of armed groups, which do not respond to homogeneous structures and which, falsely claimed, are not paramilitaries either.”
Trejos asserts that applying the same strategy to all of paramilitarism’s successor gangs has done little good. While in some areas organizations like Los Ratrojos or Los Costeños have taken control, the AGC has spread to almost the entire country.
at an investigation Published by the magazine context, Trejos and his colleague Reynell Badillo take a hitherto little-known X-ray of these organizations. Regarding the AGC, they assert that, contrary to the official discourse, they are far from limited to crime only and that it is an organization with political pretensions. They have statutes, an anthem and a relationship with the population that goes beyond the pursuit of pensions. “The erroneous notion that the political and the criminal are antagonistic spheres must be dismantled. That their political-ideological meta-narrative isn’t as widespread doesn’t mean they don’t engage in political activities. By establishing norms of behavior that govern their interactions with communities, they build social orders. And these orders are political, as well as part of their speech and their internal documents,” the authors point out in a detailed account of the challenge of the Clan del Golfo.
A letter sent to the government a few days ago by several armed groups, which is about to arrive, has brought back the negotiation debate with them, who are calling for a process similar to that used by organizations such as the United Self-Defense Forces Colombia (AUC) and the FARC. Last month’s actions are designed to show that if the country strives for total peace, Petro’s key promise, they must not be left out.
Franz Dazza, Researcher at the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, says that the Clan del Golfo is trying to demonstrate territorial control and unity. Although one of their most prominent leaders, aka Otoniel, has been extradited, they continue to operate together and across the country. “Security policy has weakened so much in the last four years that even public power is unprotected. The policies of the outgoing government were not the best, armed groups were growing and the country urgently needs to find a solution,” says Daza.
According to the researcher, the priorities of Iván Velásquez, who will become defense minister next Sunday, have been joined as an equally important player as the ELN. “In terms of security, the challenge is no longer just to resume dialogue with the guerrillas, but also not to repeat the mistakes of the past towards criminal organizations and manage to fill the abandoned spaces without state presence. , since the demobilization of the FARC”.
Next week Duque will already be a former president, but the problems of his security policy remain. Gustavo Petro’s government faces a major challenge in the face of the violence this time directed against the police, recalling the worst of Pablo Escobar’s war against the state.
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