Colombia’s defense minister called on the country’s congress to continue funding armed forces in spite of ongoing efforts to make peace with the country’s half-a-decade old rebel groups.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon argued that regardless of the success of the ongoing peace talks that Colombia needed to maintain funding a strong military and police force to ensure that Colombia did not fall to lawlessness and a period of increased violence in the aftermath of a possible peace deal with FARC and consequent disbandment of guerrilla groups.
“Peace can end up bringing more violence and more insecurity if we cannot guarantee that the military forces and even stronger police ensure peace and security,” Pinzon said in his speech.
The minister made his remarks while Congress is debating the 2015 government budget in which lawmakers and government plan to keep the military budget the same while not clearly budgeting a possible peace deal.
Pinzon urged the government not to make similar mistakes as have been seen in other Latin American countries, in which military forces have been reduced in the aftermath of conflicts, leading to higher levels of insecurity and crime than seen during wartime.
“There are those who somewhat naively believe that the signing of an agreement implies a reduced necessity to devote resources to security. I believe that they do so in good faith. Others aim to tear apart those (the armed forces)who have led them (the guerrillas) to prostration and defeat; aim to dismantle the armed forces in terms of their economic capacity, resources or legal certainty and that we cannot allow,” said the Minister of Defense.
Pinzon argued that reducing funding to the armed forces and the police would in turn damage possibilities for development, increasing employment, improving education and reducing poverty.
Pinzon claims Colombian military “most legitimate in the world”
Pinzon applauded the work of security forces in Colombia this year.
The Minister of Justice revealed that between January and August this year in 1,049 of the 1,103 Colombia municipalities there were no subversive actions, and that in 1,000 municipalities there were no terrorist attacks.
Pinzon added that 34 percent of municipalities (375) had a zero homicide rate and that 94 percent of those populations (1,034 )had not reported any cases of kidnapping for ransom.
Pinzon went on to defend the legitimacy of the armed forces of Colombia, citing examples of military operations in which the live of members of the guerrillas and criminal groups had been respected, seeing them caught and prosecuted but not killed.
The Minister alluded to a recent operation in Buga (Valle del Cauca), in which a group of eight FARC gunmen linked to attacks in Palmira and Buga were dismantled by security forces.
“While these killers are not afraid of shooting a policeman wounded on the ground, our uniformed officers captured these terrorists, protected their lives and brought them to justice .That is an example; If the armed forces of Colombia are not the most legitimate in the world, tell me where they are”.
FARC’s alleged links to former enemies
In his speech, Pinzon also referred to alleged links between FARC and neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organization “Los Urabeños,” who were recently accused of having collaborated with the FARC in an attack killing seven soldiers in northern Colombia where both groups have an interest in drug trafficking and illegal mining.
“They are the same thing in many places but they do not like to be called bandits. They have links and this has been confirmed by demobilized members, their ideologues and several seized documents confirm this.”
The predecessors of Colombia’s neo-paramilitary groups were formed in the 1980s to combat the FARC. The FARC has vehemently denied any links to their former enemies.
- Farc y bandas criminales son lo mismo, unos bandidos: Mindefensa (Ministry of Defense)