SEMANA, January 4, 2020


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Aspirants to the Presidential Palace have made statements about the battles between the ELN and the FARC dissidents in that department; battles that have killed dozens of people.

Recently we learned of an event that has had tremendous impact in Arauca. According to official reports, dozens of people were killed and thousands of families were displaced after battles between the so-called Organized Armed Groups (GAO) and the FARC dissidents because of territorial disputes in that department.

In the midst of this complex panorama, several candidates for President decried the events, and in some cases, offered proposals about what ought to be done there.

David Barguil of the Conservative Party blamed the fighting on drug trafficking, and said that the illegal crops ought to be attacked with overwhelming force. “The situation in Arauca is a battle about the drug trafficking business. 250,000 hectares of coca is a permanent source of instability and violence. I totally support the Armed Forces and civil society affected by this tragedy,” said the Senator.

Enrique Peñalosa, also of the Colombia’s Team coalition, called for more government presence throughout the countryside. “The primary goal of any administration has to be complete government control of all of the territory, as well as government monopoly on the use of force. Put an end to the bullying by illegal armed groups in Arauca and other regions. Without doing that, there will be no progress and no civilized way of life,” insisted the former Mayor of Bogotá.

Juan Fernando Cristo, of the Coalition for a Hopeful Center, said that the massacre had been announced months ago, and that it’s terrifying and unacceptable. Cristo took advantage of the chance to criticize the administration of President Duque, with whom he has profound differences.

“An administration that didn’t implement the Peace Agreement, and was incapable of combating the violence. Four years later, they are insisting on the rear-view mirror. They’re out of time. ‘There once was a Duque administration,’” said the former Interior Minister.

From that same sector, Juan Manuel Galán called on the Chief Executive to go there immediately after the Tame official clerk, Juan Carlos Villate, reported 24 people killed. “By now, the number of deaths, according to the clerk, could be more than 50,” warned Galán.

Sergio Fajardo, of the same coalition, criticized President Duque with regard to this event. “In Arauca, there are 22 people dead in combat, and 2,000 people displaced. And President Duque is paralyzed in Bogotá because of his ‘perfectionism’. The security government is handing us a country full of death and pain. That does it. Colombia is going to change,” claimed the former governor of Antioquia.

Senator Gustavo Petro said that what has happened in Arauca is the worst part of the war between the mafias. “It’s a frontier that has been abandoned by both countries. The mafias take over the space left alone by the two governments, and the violations of human rights are everywhere,” stated the leader of the Colombia Humana party.

Beyond the comments by the candidates for President, the world of politics has not failed to take notice of the tragedy that has terrified the whole country. Armando Benedetti wondered, “And we got the Nobel Peace Prize?”

Humberto de la Calle, who heads the list of Hope Center candidates for Congress, and who led the negotiations with the FARC guerrillas in Havana for the previous administration, made reference to that process.

“The rear-view mirror has given out. Would the war in Arauca be less if, instead of FARC dissidents it was the previous FARC in its entirety?” Of course not. By now there aren’t many people that miss the full conflict. If this can happen after four years of a Democratic Center administration, it’s absurd to think that it was wrong to remove people from fighting a war,” said De la Calle.

Specifically, the Commons Party, which arose out of the Peace Agreement, expressed their opinion in a communication stating that they deplore what happened in Arauca, and urging the armed groups to put an end to the violence.

“The situation that exists in the department of Arauca has its roots in the abandonment by the government, the lack of attention to the communities’ needs, and the failure to accomplish the full implementation of the Peace Agreement,” maintained the former combatants.

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