Colombian mayors’ and ranchers’ associations warn that security has deteriorated in the country, in direct contradiction of President Santos’ claim that it is improving, El Espectador reported Friday.
Gilberto Toro, the executive director of the Colombian Federation of Municipalities (Fedemunicipios), and Jose Felix Lafaurie, president of the ranchers’ federation (Fedegan), agree that threats by criminal gangs and the FARC are continuing at the same level in some areas and increasing in others.
Toro stated that the confidence with which local leaders had conducted their affairs has now “started showing signs of cracking with attacks and bombings.”
Mayor of La Argentina, Huila, Dagoberto Guerrero Gaitan, for instance, was injured Wednesday in an attack by the FARC on his official vehicle.
According to Toro, these attacks demonstrate an “increase in the destabilizing capacity of the enemies of democracy,” especially when occurring in areas that, supposedly, “the security forces had already occupied.”
Lafaurie, meanwhile, revealed that union members have endured 70 extortion incidents, 25 kidnappings and five murders in the last month alone, which are fuelling “the climate of insecurity that we perceive.”
The critical comments come after President Santos addressed the Conservative Party with a speech emphasizing the strengths of the armed forces, claiming that “they are breathing down the neck” of FARC leader “Alfonso Cano.”
Santos cited figures indicating that over 1,000 members of illegal armed forces demobilized during his first six months in power, noting that 2010 ended with the lowest number of homicides in 25 years.