President Uribe said Monday that the government would not recognize a ceasefire between Medellin’s major crime syndicates, a statement reiterated by both the chief of police and the high commissioner for peace.
“We do not accept it,” the president announced. “These bands must be defeated.”
Uribe added that he spoke with the Archbishop Julio Cesar Vidal, who is hoping to hold similar ceasefire talks with the criminal bands in the northern city of Monteria. Like Medellin, where the homicide rate doubled from 2008 to 2009, Moravia is also being convulsed by a vicious gang war that has left 40 people dead so far this year.
“If the church wants to do that, then they can go ahead, ” said Uribe. “But there can only be one ending: that these men turn themselves in and face justice. There is no other way.”
On Tuesday, chief of police General Oscar Naranjo echoed Uribe and said police forces would not recognize any truce between Medellin’s two largest crime syndicates, headed by “Sebastian” and “Valenciano.”
“Our legal obligation is to apply the law,” the general said.
The high comissioner for peace, Frank Pearl, said Wednesday that gang members would not be offered reduced jail sentences or other rewards in return for peace, as occurred with the demobilization of paramilitary groups under the Justice and Peace Law.
“If someone wants to submit themselves to justice, they are welcome,” he said. “But don’t ever think that the police or the judicial system will refrain from acting.”
In an interview with Colombia Reports, Jorge Gaviria, a peace advisor to the Medellin mayor’s office who helped broker an agreement between Sebastian and Valenciano, said that the negotiators never offered reduced penalties in return for a truce.
“We offered nothing because we had nothing to offer,” he said. “The only offer we could make was a reduction in homicides.”