Colombia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday promised more troops to contain the exacerbated human rights crisis in the coastal city of Buenaventura.
The statement said “we will bring additional groups of urban special forces and keep with militarization efforts in certain areas of the harbor.”
The statement reads that the city will receive the increased military presence by Friday.
Mario Angulo, a local community activist said “in this case, the Ministry of Defense and the local government believe the solution is to militarize the entire city. It has done so numerous times but situation remains the same which means it does not solve the problem.”
He added “what is needed is an impact on the social context and structural factors generating the armed conflict.”
The port-city of Buenaventura lies on Colombia’s Pacific coast and has been the stage of an increasingly aggressive turf war between criminal gangs fighting for control of illegal drug trafficking routes.
The UN made a visit to the city in November 2013 and called on the Colombian government to take action to contain devastating levels of violence which led to a rising homicide rate and the forced displacement of thousands of individuals.
Since that time however there has been little improvement, if any, with locals calling for the government to focus more attention on social and economic needs of a city in which, according to the Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network, 80% live below the poverty.
The recent protests have provoked a reaction from the Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos who last week released a statement confirming a set of proposals to increase increase available housing and improve education and access to healthcare.
Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca
- Con salud, educación y programas sociales Gobierno Nacional responde a Buenaventura (President Press Release)
- Mindefensa anuncia militarización de Buenaventura (Ministry of Defense)
- Interview with Mario Angulo