More than half the population of a rural town in the southwest Colombia have threatened a mass exodus due to sustained FARC attacks and perceived government inaction, according to several media sources.
The small town of Vegalarga, in the rural Huila municipality of the Neiva department, has been identified as a key strategic route of passage for the FARC in their movements between the southern department Caqueta and the central departments of Huila, Tolima and Cundinamarca.
The town is practically without any public services, according to Caracol, with problems exacerbated by last week’s controlled detonation of a FARC car bomb by local police. Although injuries were averted the bomb caused serious damage to the town’s only school, as well as a church, a hospital and several houses.
More than 1,500 of the some 3,000 inhabitants have been preparing to abandon their town amidst claims that the government has been ignoring its responsibilities to the people, a sentiment not helped by the fact that the governor of Huila, Jorge Luis Sanchez, was on holiday in Germany at the time.
La Nacion reports that neither Sanchez nor the governor of Neiva, Hector Anibal Ramirez, have visited the area since the attack, leaving the residents to conclude that their representatives are too afraid to do so.
In response to the criticism and possible exodus, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera and several military leaders have arrived in the town to conduct a security council meeting, which will focus upon protecting the area and preventing the FARC from using it as a key transit route towards the central regions of the country.