By Javier Patiño C., CAMBIOColombia, March 22, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The Commander of the Colombian Army, General Luis Mauricio Ospina, spoke with CAMBIO about the failure of the Clan del Golfo to comply with the ceasefire, and confirmed that, in spite of the crisis, the military continues firmly behind the “total peace”.
After a weekend crowded with attacks on the Armed Forces and on the civilian population in the department of Antoquia, President Gustavo Petro decided to put an end to the bilateral ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo. The Commander of the Colombian Army, General Luis Ospina, spoke with CAMBIO about the consequences of the announcement.
CAMBIO: What is the current situation after three weeks of the so-called miners’ strike in Bajo Cauca in Antioquia?
General Luis Ospina: Ever since the first days of the month of March, we have been carrying out operations to guarantee the security of the population, and we have organized caravans together with the Police, the Air Force, and the Navy to allow normal traffic on the roads.
CAMBIO: What was the main reason that brought the President, Gustavo Petro, to put an end to the bilateral ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo?
GLO: All of the military and Police intelligence reports demonstrated that they were manipulating the civilian population. Also, they were carrying out attacks on water systems and they burned six vehicles. That’s what finally brought the President to rescind the decree that had ordered the bilateral ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo.
CAMBIO: What is th order that the President gave you after he lifted the bilateral ceasefire with the Clan del Golfo?
GLO: The assignment is to re-establish security in the area and return it to stability, matters that don’t just resolve themselves through the presence of the Armed Forces; there has to be a presence of the institutions of the government, so that there can be equilibrium in the region.
CAMBIO: Could you say that the Clan del Golfo was playing a double game with the approaches to the government?
GLO: We are always prepared to defend the civilian population, and from the beginning, we have gone along with the government’s attempts to reach agreements, until these events took place, but we know that the gangsters don’t think that way, especially when they see effects on their finances, and it’s very hard for them to go from illegality to legality.
CAMBIO: As the Commander of the Colombian Army, do you think it was a mistake to declare a ceasefire with the illegal groups?
GLO: All of the Armed Forces continue to carry out their assignments of control, respecting the orders of their Supreme Commander. We are doing that job permanently; we have gotten together with all of the local and departmental authorities to analyze what it is that’s going on in the regions. We are mindful that we are dealing with a proposal for peace that’s entirely different from those that were carried out historically, and we are joining with it.