An Ombudsman official in western Colombia has received a death threat from unknown persons, El Espectador reported Thursday.
According to the local newspaper, an official in the Buenaventura Ombudsman’s office received a death threat on Tuesday after condemning the reign of terror two rival drug gangs are inflicting on the Colombian port city.
On August 23, the Ombudsman’s office allegedly told police that, “Los Rastrojos, the FARC, and Los Urabeños threaten indigenous leaders and social organizations, restrict the movement of residents…extort locals, traffic drugs, control prostitution [rings], murder, torture, behead and dismember [innocents and rivals alike].”
In less than a month, three dismembered bodies have appeared on Buenaventura beaches.
Tuesday’s threat prompted a condemnation on Wednesday from Ombudsman, Jorge Armando Otalora.
“Despite warnings, the authorities have not taken effective measures to neutralize the actions of illegal armed groups and protect citizens,” said Otalora.
The entire department, but particularly the coastal city of Buenaventura, has been plagued with violence for months because of its strategic location for drug gangs – direct sea access and close proximity to coca cultivation hubs in Nariño, Valle and Choco.
According to the Buenaventura Diocese, the city has been “decimated by killings, displacements and disappearances” over the last decade.
“Fear has inoculated each cell of the population [who are] unable to generate means of survival in the midst of this ongoing war…[this is] a humanitarian crisis to which the national government only provides [limited support] which increasingly deepens the misery,” the Diocese stated.
Despite the deteriorating security situation, Buenaventura police claim to have strengthened their actions against criminal gangs.
According to Colonel Oscar Gomez, in less than a month there have been close to 40 arrests of members of Los Rastrojos, Los Urabeños and FARC guerrillas who operate in the city’s rural surroundings.
Yet according to the statements Ombudsman Otalora made on Wednesday, the number of arrests pale in comparison to the number of displaced persons – 2,197 in October alone.
And just last week, an alleged FARC bomb attack killed two people and left 34 wounded, including 14 children.