Neo-paramilitary groups active in the north Colombian department of Cordoba are willing to demobilize, the Catholic Church said Sunday.
According to Monteria bishop Julio Cesar Vidal, a number of the drug traffickers that are held responsible for 31 homicides in the department this year “do not want Colombia to turn into Mexico and are willing to dismantle the drug trafficking gangs.”
The Bishop told the press he personally talked to ringleaders of several gangs in December and was able to reach a temporary cease fire during Christmas. The clergy, however, showed he was disappointed that the gangs resumed their violence in the beginning of 2011.
“These gangs told me that they want to surrender to the government, and one of the proofs — I asked them in the month of December — was to ask them to cease hostilities. It seemed that they were complying, but these acts (the recent wave of violence) show otherwise,” said Vidal.
Colombian security forces started an offensive against the drug gangs after the murder of two students from Bogota allegedly committed by “Los Urabeños.” Following this offensive, seven suspected members of this drug gang were arrested and 13 demobilized.
Cordoba is one of the departments that suffers the most from violence after drug gangs like “The Rastrojos” and local gangs formed from the demobilized paramilitary organization AUC started contesting the region over control over the drug routes to the Caribbean. Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon last week called these gangs “Colombia’s new enemy.”