Colombian police reported instances of violence, protests, and arrests connected to Colombia’s regional elections.
In the north coast department of Atlantico, police officials caught 12 persons who had warrants out for their arrests, as well as an additional person for a crime connected to the election. The captured were wanted for crimes of desertion, theft, attempted murder, murder, perjury, conspiracy, extortion, falsification of documents, and voter fraud.
In the departments of Yumbo and Jamundi, police reported shootings, attacks against candidate’s cars and headquarters, and public protests. In response, officials blocked access to the municipal hall where votes were being counted.
More problems arose in the municipalities of Costa Atlantica, Valle, Cundinamarca, and Los Llanos. Serious rioting and protest erupted in response to election results, the chauffeur of a local representative was killed en route from Tame to Arauca, and there were several attacks registered against local candidates.
In Mahates, north of Bolivar, a group of protesters threw stones at the local mayor’s office and then burned it with fire bombs. The mayor was trapped in his office at the time of the attack and had to be rescued by police.
In Yumbo, Valle, one of the municipalities with high electoral risk due to pressure from local mafia, there was gunfire reported as well as the assassination of a candidate.
In Puerto Rico, Caqueta, three alleged FARC members of the “Teofilo Forero” Column died in a clash with Army soldiers. In Cauca and Casanare, four guerrilla members were also killed, and three were arrested.
Overall, 56 persons were arrested across the country for election-related offenses, and 117,000 items of illegal voting propaganda were confiscated.
However, according to Colombia’s Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, in the eight hours of voting, only five acts of disorderly conduct were reported, representing a 70% decrease from the 2007 elections.
Overall, election officials from the Organization of American States (OAS), said that the elimination of the voter’s signature and fingerprint on the ballot reduced voting security measures that were in place to prevent voter impersonation and transhumance, but that the elections had been more or less problem free.
An OAS official, Beatriz Paredes, also insisted that the nationwide implementation of a biometric identification system would be well worth the time, money, and technology, in order to assure voter security.