The number of gangs in Bogota has exceeded 1,300 while the city government cuts funds aimed at reducing crime, a local councilman said.
Bogota councilman Horacio Serpa blames the proliferation of largely juvenile offenders on a 30% cut to anti-violence and public safety programs in 2014, especially in the city’s most troubled areas.
PROFILE: Gustavo Petro
“There are no clear public policies to fight against them,” Serpa told Colombia Reports.
Crime prevention programs saw a 29% cut, the same as cuts in budgets for the strengthening of citizen security, according to the councilman.
More importantly, the city’s emergency hotline is facing a 43% budget cut while the same fund has to spend 7% less on the acquisition of external goods and services, said the councilman.
Bogota’s public security budget cuts
FACT SHEET: Bogota crime statistics
According to Serpa, many of the gang members are former paramilitaries who came to Bogota: of 31,000 paramilitaries demobilized in 2007, around 6-7,000 continued committing crimes. Not enough resources were given to re-integrate the paramilitaries, said Serpa, warning that the same thing could happen with demobilized guerrillas in the event of a peace deal.
Bogota is considered a “high risk” area by the US Department of State for “terrorism, residential crime, non-residential crime, and political violence.” The State Department lost an embassy aide who was killed last year in an attempted robbery.
While homicides remain low relative to other cities, street crime has increased: an October report by the municipal Center for Studies and Analysis in Citizen Security (CEACSC) showed that robbery and assault levels rose in more than half of Bogota´s neighborhoods between the first half of 2013 and that of 2014. According to the Chamber of Commerce, street robberies went up 68% between 2012 and 2013, when a total of 25,226 robberies were reported.
Public distaste for the city’s mayor has climbed along with crime rates: in August, a poll conducted by international research agency Datexco revealed that Gustavo Petro’s disapproval rating was at 58%.
- ALIANZA ENTRE BANDAS DELINCUENCIALES Y CRIMINALES AZOTAN A BOGOTÁ (Press Release)