Citizens of a neighborhood in Medellin have claimed that gangs have imposed a curfew rendering the streets deserted by 8:00 pm, amidst an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.
This is disputed by the police, however, who maintain that there is no imposed “curfew,” but rather that the people are too scared to go out after dark.
The police’s claim concurs with the actions of a priest local to the neighborhoods, who has supposedly circulated a message warning the community to return home early in order to avoid “accidents” and not to remain out on the streets, reported newspaper El Colombiano Tuesday.
“All night we hear gunfire,” an anonymous source told the newspaper, who also mentioned how the “restricted” mobility of citizens followed a murder on January 10.
Colonel Freddy Buitrago, Southwest District Police Commander, claimed to not know about the situation because “they have not told us anything.” He added that there had been a meeting with the community only last week, in which they had said they were going to take action, “but this is new.”
Regardless of whether the curfew is either imposed or self-imposed, Manuel Ricardo Salgado, a lawyer specializing in Public Safety and a police colonel, believes that these acts by the armed groups are primarily a demonstration of power.
“The object is to demonstrate that they can intimidate people and create situations that remove any sense of collective security,” he said.
Police authorities have said that the recent conflict in Belen is the result of a confrontation between criminal gangs in “Las Violetas” and “Aguas Frias,” who are fighting for control of the area’s public transport extortion racket, as well as vaccines.