Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon advised the population of the northeastern Colombian department of Arauca on Sunday not be intimidated by rumors of imminent attacks against the civilian population.
Without offering any concrete strategy to counter the alleged threats, Pinzon told the Arauca population that “the important thing at this moment is for people to denounce [criminal groups].” Pinzon met with community leaders, trade association and political leaders to discuss the recent intimidations.
“The only things these strikes will do is to try to intimidate the population,” Caracol Radio quoted Pinzon as saying. “These organizations do not have the capacity to do everything they say, of course they intend to do harm to citizens, but if the people denounce them and are accompanied by the Armed Forces, surely the effect of these organizations will be smaller.”
As for the part of military, Pinzon insisted that the security forces “will continue acting with decisiveness, we are going to act with all effectiveness and ensure in the coming months that we increase the capacity of the Armed Forces in Arauca.”
Plans were already in place to send more security forces to Arauca next week in accordance with Plan Democracy, a government initiative to protect at-risk municipalities in the upcoming October elections.
Intelligence agencies and security forces in the area will therefore be “more alert” from next week, the defense minister said.
Last week, Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group ELN attacked two different municipalities in Arauca, killing two and injuring two others.
Pinzon took command of Colombia’s armed forces last month when President Juan Manuel Santos replaced the entire upper level military leadership in order to curb the recent rise in violence across the country.