Colombia’s national government announced to increase security for leftist congressmen, political activists and unionists after drug cartel “Los Rastrojos” announced them a “military target.”
PROFILE: Los Rastrojos
The most prominent of those who received the threat were Senator Jorge Robledo and House Representatives Ivan Cepeda and Alexander Lopez, all from the socialist Polo Democratico party.
In a letter to the involved, the Rastrojos — once born as the military wing of the Norte del Valle cartel that since converted into more of a paramilitary organization, declared war on Polo Democratico, leftist political movement Marcha Patriotica and human rights NGO Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective.
Additionally, 25 labor rights defenders were names military objective.
“We demand that aforementioned organizations stop brainwashing the subversive mind in favor of the narco-terrorists of the FARC and ELN with the supposed aim to defend labor rights of the working class , attacking the good and noble intentions of the government of Mr. Juan Manuel Santos in favor of peace and democratic prosperity, and hold back the progress generated by multinationals like Glencore, Drummond, Pacific Rubiales, AngloGold Ashanti, among others who also generate well-being and work en the regions where they have their projects. We confirm that we will go beyond threats and anyone who stands in the way will be declared a military objective.”
In a response, Polo Democratico leader Clara Lopez rejected the threats on her party’s website, claiming that “this kind of threats has always been preceded by statements made by senior government officials when stigmatizing social mobilization and political dissent.”
On behalf of the government, Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo also rejected the threat and announced ” the necessary measures” to protect those who appear on the death list.
“Threatening voices of criminals and murderers shouldn’t even be heard,” said Carillo in a press release on the Ministry’s website, adding that the national government ” reiterates its commitment to guaranteeing the life, integrity and freedom of expression of all political parties in Colombia.”
Since their founding in the first years of this century, the Rastrojos have increasingly moved from drug trafficking to paramilitary/political activity. The group on several occasions sent out threats to lawmakers, national and international NGOs, and unionists.
The Rastrojos are Colombia’s second paramilitary-like organization after their northern Colombian rivals, the Urabeños.
- Indignación por amenazas a dirigentes polistas y sociales (Polo Democratico)
- Gobierno redoblará protección a sindicalistas y congresistas por amenazas de Los Rastrojos (Interior Ministry)