Colombian security forces have failed to prevent a FARC-imposed “armed strike” that has disconnected the western department of Choco from the rest of the country since Thursday.
The week-long transportation stoppage, apparently enforced on Thursday to commemorate dead FARC commanders “Raul Reyes” and “Ivan Rios,” has seen transportation to neighboring departments almost completely shut off.
Commander of the Fifteenth Brigade of the Army Colonel Jorge Romero sought to provide assurances, telling Radio Caracol, “The armed forces and police have generated an important mechanism on the Atrato River and highways of Choco which seeks to provide for the secure mobility of people.”
But many of the transport companies involved in internal and inter-departmental travel had suspended services pending greater security guarantees or the end of the strike.
El Tiempo reported that members of transport companies from neighboring Antioquia and Risaralda departments had cancelled travel, shutting off the major Medellin-Pereira route and many others.
Authorities also reported that a grenade had exploded in the early hours of Thursday morning opposite the home of the police commander of Capurgana, on Choco’s Caribbean coast, while another was exploded in the headquarters of airline ADA, which serves the Pretoria-Medellin route. Although the incident caused minimal damage, the company suspended operations until “it has guarantees” of its security.
An armed strike is a freeze in civil activity imposed by illegal armed groups. While in this instance it has only been enforced upon transport links, previous armed strikes, such as that imposed by the “Urabeños” in northern Colombia in January, can also halt all commercial activity.