By Ariel Ávila, EL ESPECTADOR, February 24, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

So far in 2021 there have been 16 massacres in 14 municipalities, with 61 victims. As had been expected, this will be a more violent year than 2020. During the first month of 2021, there were eight massacres leaving a total of 34 deaths. This outlook doesn’t seem as if it is going to improve in the month of February, because, as of today, eight massacres have been reported. The data for the first month are as follows:

Sunday, January 10, Betania, Antioquia Province: three (3) people were killed in the La Cuarentena sector.

Sunday, January 10, Florencia, Caquetá Province: three (3) young people were killed in a rural area near the border with the Municipality of Solano.

Tuesday, January 12, Cali, Valle del Cauca Province: three (3)  people were killed at the Santa Elena mall.

Monday, January 18, Popayán, Cauca Province: three (3) young people were killed in the El Recuerdo neighborhood in the 6th ward.

Monday, January 18, Tarazá, Antioquia Province: four (4) people were killed in the Santa Elena neighborhood, Las Palmas sector.

Wednesday, January 20, Tumaco, Nariño Province: two (2) bodies were found after eleven (11) people were reported as disappeared. As of this date, five (5) bodies have been found.

Sunday, January 24, Buga, Valle del Cauca Province: five (5) young people were killed at a farm located in the town (vereda) of Cerro Rico.

Sunday, January 31, Roberto Payán, Nariño Province: a common grave was found with five (5) bodies in the town (vereda) of Fátima, near the border with Olaya Herrera.

Since the end of January and during February, the massacres were concentrated in southwestern Colombia. An example of that is the discovery of five (5) bodies in three (3) common graves located in the town (vereda) of Fátima near the border between Roberto Payán and Olaya Herrera, and the discovery of the bodies of four (4) young people from Cauca who had disappeared as of Friday, January 29, seen in a pickup located in the District (corregimiento) of Los Naranjos, in the Municipality of Policarpa (Sierra de Nariño).

Added to these is the disappearance of eleven (11) people that were traveling to the Municipality of Mosquera. They were last seen alive on Wednesday, January 13. The bodies of five (5) of them were found after January 20 in the District of Tumaco and, given the time that had passed since the group had been heard from, their families assume that all the members of the group were murdered and their bodies thrown into one of the multiple springs that supply water to the Province of Nariño.

Right now in Colombia four processes are converging that create a perfect storm of insecurity. For one thing, there is a boom in the illegal economies: the prices of gold and of the coca base have increased in recent months. Second, there is a technical stalemate in the disputes among the criminals, and to the extent that one cannot conquer the other, the violence is cheapened. In the third place, the absence of a security policy and the nonexistence of leadership. Finally, a pre-election year.

In at least six regions of the country, including the Pacific region of Nariño, a new wave of violence has been incubating. The miraculous ways out do not exist and, in general, the problem now is not just the lack of government presence or the lack of a strategy for occupying the territory; the outlook is much more complicated. The Duque administration has let the wave of violence increase, and has been incapable of creating a strategy for containing it.

The most recent event was the massacre of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, located in a rural area of Tumaco, committed on February 21. The total number of victims is not known because the occurrence was marked by the incursion of an armed group known as Iván Ríos, identified by the communities as a group of dissidents from the GAO Los Contadores (The Accountants), which remains in the territory.

What was going to happen in that area was something like the chronicle of a death foretold. Seven illegal organizations are operating on the Pacific coast of Nariño Province. It’s a war of all of them against all of them and nobody knows who shot whom. The Armed Forces are very close to these areas, but their operational effectiveness is nonexistent. They are confined to their barracks and the communities are complaining about their failure to function.

Now the national government announces the return of the fumigations as a great security policy. On that point, there are three things you could say. In the first place, the administration confuses a security policy with a drug war policy, a beginner’s mistake. In the second place, fumigation does nothing but increase the price of the drugs and so the criminals will have more money. Finally, it’s a totally ineffective measure, one that will aggravate the violence in the regions.

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