There are no neo-paramilitary groups operating in the Colombian capital nor in surrounding areas, according to Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera, El Espectador reported Tuesday.
“The phenomenon of ‘Bacrim’ is not present in Bogota, nor in [the surrounding department] Cundinamarca; there are seven organizations operating in the country but their presence has not been registered in this city,” Rivera said after a security meeting held at the presidential palace, Casa de Nariño.
“Bacrim” is the government term used to refer to emerging criminal gangs and neo-paramilitary groups formed after the demobilization of paramilitary organizations. They are often linked to drug-trafficking and have no political ideology.
Rivera said that according to analysis carried out during a security summit and intelligence studies carried out by the government, “The city is a safe place for tourists … where … the residents are favored with one of the lowest homicide rates in the country.”
Rivera’s words are a direct contradiction to those of Leon Valencia, director of NGO Organization Nuevo Arco Iris (New Rainbow) who said on Saturday that “Bacrim” are surrounding Bogota and are planning to enter towns such as San Cristobal to the southeast of the city.
During the meeting, the Mayor of Bogota Samuel Moreno also reported a significant reduction in the murder rate for 2011. “For the first quarter of this year and compared with last year we had a reduction of about 9% in murders which gives a low projected rate [for the year] of 20 homicides per 100,000, breaking the upward trend we have had since 2007,” he stated.
The mayor added that City Hall is enforcing security measures aimed at reducing high impact crimes. “We have a reduction in personal injury, personal theft, and residential burglary thanks to a very important campaign like the quadrant plan which allows us to identify crime hot-spots.”