The president of Colombia’s Polo Democratic party has criticized the government’s handling of last week’s siege of the north of the country by neo-paramilitaries “Los Urabeños.”
Jaime Dussan Calderon said the growing strength of criminal gangs was cause for great concern, and called on the government to see through President Juan Manuel Santos’ pledge to banish such groups.
The coastal departments of Choco, Antioquia, Cordoba, Sucre and Magdalena were paralyzed last week by an “armed strike” imposed by Los Urabenos — a Colombian term referring to the enforced shutdown of business and transport by criminal gangs or militants.
Leaflets were distributed ordering the suspension of all commercial activities and transport, threatening violence or death to those who failed to comply.
Calderon said the government had made it difficult to maintain public order in several regions of the country.
“The ‘armed strike’ by Los Urabeños, with the complicity of some regional authorities, and their permanent siege of [towns and cities with] civilian populations, demonstrates that the national government has difficulty controlling public order and disarming these criminal gangs which are damaging the peace of the nation,” said Dussan Calderon.
The government must work in conjunction with Colombian society to build a stable peace policy, he added.