Colombian Interior Minister German Vargas visited western department of Choco Thursday, which has been shut down by guerrillas for the past week.
Choco residents have been unable to travel freely for days, and since last night those living in Quibdo have been banned from leaving their homes after 8PM, under threat of violence from FARC guerrillas angry about the killing of two of their leaders.
In a government press release Vargas said, “We’re not only going to strengthen ground forces but also many other areas to neutralize the impact of these delinquent groups.”
Choco’s governor had claimed earlier Thursday that residents felt abandoned by the Colombian state. Speaking with Caracol Radio Thursday Luis Gilberto Murrillo said, “If this strike happened … in Antioquia, in Cundinamarca or in Valle we would have the entire Colombian government there.”
In a related message released Wednesday Colombian Navy Admiral Roberto Garcia Marquez said there were 17 marine units patrolling rivers in the department.
Neither Marquez nor Vargas promised any actual troop increase despite a request by governor Murrillo.
Vargas concluded with a message to the people of Choco saying, “My invitation, once again, to the people is to have faith that the security of the department of Choco is guaranteed. And don’t pay attention to [FARC threats] that are just trying to generate anxiety.”