A gang truce in Buenaventura returned peace to Colombia’s main port city on the Pacific Coast after three years of turf wars.
Members of the “Spartans” and the Shotas” took part in a church service and a soccer match after signing a deal to end the turf war that started in 2019.
The truce has allowed locals to visit friends and family in other parts of their city, which had become impossible because of “invisible borders” imposed by the gangs to protect their territories.
In the Juan XXIII neighborhood, which has been among the most affected by the turf war, people took to the streets to celebrate the truce that has all but ended violence in Buenaventura.
— Jhorman Cuero (@CueroJhorman) October 2, 2022
Other Buenaventura residents took the opportunity to just walk through their city, which had also become impossible.
Hoy salimos para juan 23 al evento por La Paz, hoy todo mundo estuvo allá sin fronteras ni nada y recorrimos la comuna 7 que hace unos días estaba dividía y violentada, hoy muchos de los que se fueron hace 2 años estaban allá, abrazos, cariño y buenas energías. pic.twitter.com/RamkgZJSSo
— Leonard Rentería – LeonArt (@LeonardBtura) October 3, 2022
“Total Peace” pilot
The truce was negotiated by the Catholic Church after both gangs indicated they wanted to take part of the “Total Peace” plans of President Gustavo Petro.
The archbishop of Buenaventura, Monsignor Ruben Dario Jaramillo, said last week that the Buenaventura truce is a pilot project of the government’s proposed peace policy, which seeks judicial leniency for illegal armed groups that lay down their weapons.
According to Jaramillo, the truce has all but ended violence in the city of 400,000 people, which saw more than 25 homicides per month until the truce.
Over the past six weeks, authorities reported no more than one homicide.
The Buenaventura war
The war between the Spartans and Shotas ignited in 2019 due to a rift in “La Empresa,” the local mafia organization that used to control the port’s cocaine exports and other organized crime rackets.
Violence has been fueled by illegal armed groups that seek control over drug trafficking routes that go through the jungles and marshes that surround Buenaventura.
The port city has been one of Colombia’s most important drug trafficking hubs for decades.