Colombia claims arresting more neo-paramilitaries than guerrillas

Demobilized FARC guerrillas (Photo: Colombian army)

Nearly 5,000 FARC members and over 8,000 neo-paramilitaries have been captured by Colombia’s armed forces over the past two years, according to a report released by the Colombian Ministry of Defense.

The report showed that between September 2011 and August 2013, a total of 7,599 members of the FARC guerrilla group— who have played a large part of the country’s five-decade long civil war— were ‘neutralized’ along with 1,181 members of the smaller guerrilla group ELN and 8,207 criminal organization members.

Arrests, combat kills and desertions

In a meeting on Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his gratitude for the past positive results to the Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, but said the hard work would have to continue due to the changing nature of criminal and armed groups.

“While we have had very positive results in certain indicators in the fight against all types of offences, crime, terrorism, there are also some challenges as new forms of offenses, crimes, and organized crime emerge,” Santos said.

Interestingly, the report showed that 8,138 criminal organization members were captured during this period, markedly higher than the 4,862 FARC members and 700 ELN members—a trend that has been developing since 2007.

However, FARC members have the highest casualties with 682 members killed in combat as opposed to 86 lost by the ELN and 69 by criminal organization groups, with additional figures showing a total demobilization of 2,055 by FARC members and 395 ELN members.

According to the report, 91% of the municipalities in the country experienced no terrorist acts by the FARC and ELN, and 86% of municipalities are free of “BaCrim” presence.

Earlier this year positive figures released by President Santos sparked some criticism by analysts and politicians, such as former Colombian President Albaro Uribe.

MORE: Uribe accuses Santos of falsifying security figures 

However, military analyst John Marulanda said that the situation in the country is not as “marvelous as President Santos says, nor as horrible as former President Uribe states,” according to El Colombiano.

“The fact that Colombia is acquiring more weapons is an indication that things are not so good. We are still the first in the world in coca cultivation, we are the only country in Latin America marked in Red with two terrorist groups and organized crime as strong as the BaCrim,” Mr Marulanda told newspaper El Colombiano in January.

After Monday’s meeting with the Defense Minister, President Santos highlighted that the UN would report that no denunciations of “false positives” had been made in 2012 and 2013.


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