Colombia’s vice-President and the U.N. human rights office in the country demand the investigation of recent paramilitary death threats in the south, center and west of the Andean nation.
“The government condemns any murder or threat against human rights workers. We must invite the Colombian people to emphatically reject the murder of any person. We ask prosecutors, judges, military authorities and the police to take all necessary measures to condemn this type of threats,” Vice President Angelino Garzon was quoted by Caracol Radio.
Christian Salazar, representative of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, also expressed his concern over the recent murder of three human rights workers and the threats against others. “We have recommended that many of the investigations of threats are improved and that the police uses all its intelligence and analysis capacity,” said the U.N. official.
Paramilitary group “Aguilas Negras” and drug gang “Los Rastrojos” have recently started threatening large numbers of people in the southern Putumayo and Nariño departments, in the central Cundinamarca department and the north-eastern Antioquia department.
In the north of Antioquia, the Aguilas Negras threaten citizens they accuse of supportingr rival group “Los Paisas.” In Caucasia, Los Paisas imposed a curfew and threatened to kill alleged prostitutes and drug users, and Los Rastrojos prohibited any parties.
The threats have forced dozens of people to flee their homes in the affected departments, which are all of great importance for drug traffickers.
“It is the same pattern the [demobilized paramilitary organization] AUC used in the 1990s to consolidate in the regions; a ‘social cleansing’ to justify their presence in the towns and capture the local economy,” an anonymous investigator told newspaper El Tiempo.
“The only difference with what you see now is that the AUC initially tried to end subversive influence in certain regions,” Mauricio Romero of left-leaning think tank Corporacion Arco Iris told the same newspaper.
Following the official demobilization of the AUC in 2005 and 2006, thousands of paramilitaries formed new groups like the Aguilas Negras and Los Paisas to take control of the drug routes once controlled by the AUC. Los Rastrojos were formed from the Norte del Valle drug cartel.