Colombia’s state forces have 2.2 million “cooperating civilians” including some 3,000 paid informants, Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said Wednesday.
The Minister made his statement after a plan by President Alvaro Uribe to pay 1,000 Medellin students a monthly bonus for information on criminal activity in their neighborhoods caused a wave of criticism.
But according to Silva, Uribe’s plan is nothing new and civilians are already helping the government with intelligence work.
According to the Minister, some 2.2 million Colombians are “cooperating civilians.” 3,000 of these informants receive a monthly $50 fee.
The civilian informants play a vital role in the state’s war against leftist guerrilla groups and drug trafficking.
Silva rejects criticism that the government is putting the lives of these civilians at risk by asking them to “snitch” on groups that are not afraid to use violence.
“We have methods and already proven practices that allow us to be calm. Naturally we will be supervising and monitoring this process,” the minister said.