Colombia’s defense minister on Wednesday blamed anti-government protesters for a surge in violent crime in the capital Bogota allegedly caused by illegal armed groups.
Defense Minister Diego Molano and his deputy Juan Pablo Diaz were called to Congress to explain what they plans to do in response to the increased presence of illegal armed groups in Bogota reported by the Ombudsman’s Office.
Diaz confirmed the Ombudsman’s warnings about the increase in “alleged activity of national organized crime groups such as” paramilitary group AGC, dissidents of now-defunct guerrilla group FARC, and regional crime organizations like “Los Paisas” and “Los Boyacos.”
Molano confirmed that “the increase in homicides in Bogota this year is 14%, robbery 18%, [and] extortion 10%” compared to 2020.
According to the defense ministry, homicides in the impoverished south of the city went up 49%.
According to the Ombudsman’s Office, the deteriorating security situation is caused by violence between illegal armed groups who are expanding their territory in the capital.
The risk scenario is caused by the expansion and dispute for control of the routes between the armed organized crime group Los Paisas and the armed organized crime group Los Bayacos, and the presence of non-state actors as part of the armed conflict, such as the ELN and dissident factions of the FARC-EP.
Molano blatantly contradicted the Ombudsman’s report and his own deputy, and blamed anti-government protests that have been taking place near two bus terminals for the increase in organized crime.
Areas that they have tried to turn into points of anarchy, such as the Americas terminal, have caused an increase in homicides and violence.
Defense Minister Diego Molano
In order to combat the deteriorating security situation, the defense minister said he was sending another 1,500 extra police officers to Bogota.
Molano made a similar promise in February, but asked local authorities to cough up the funds.
According to the capital’s security secretary, the city’s police department, Bogota’s police department was reinforced with 570 rookie police officers after their graduation from the police academy.
The increase in violence in the capital is relatively low compared to the rest of the country where homicides increased 24%, according to the defense ministry.