President Juan Manuel Santos has announced the imposition of new military measures to stop guerrillas and drug traffickers that are currently operating with little opposition in the jungle department of Guaviare.
At a meeting in the department’s capital, San Jose, Santos said that measures such as road protection, the construction of training centers and the mobilization of three new Gaula anti-narcotics batallions, from the national police force, will be put in place in order to combat narco-trafficking and terrorism in the region.
Currently, the south-central department of Guaviare is one of the most rural and isolated departments, with little military presence or infrastructure, according to Elyssa Pachico, a security analyst for InSightcrime.org.
“We will bring a new anti-narcotics batallion that we will locate here in San Jose [the department capital]. And they will operate a new river support patrol, that will be designed by Cotecmar and constructed here [San Jose]. Now it’s in the river, but it will operate in the upcoming days to increase the security of Guaviare,” said the president.
The head of state also reached out to the citizens of Guaviare, saying, “I want to take advantage of the opportunity and tell the people to have confidence in their security forces, in their authorities. When there are informants, the percentage of success cases, to say that those responsible pass safely, is above 95%, if there is cooperation.”
The military also recently announced a general strategical change in order to combat guerrilla militias who embed themselves within civilian populations. The government reportedly will use social initiatives to reach out to civilians in rural areas who feel neglected by the state in an attempt to impede relationships between the populations and the guerrilla.
Pachico also reported that in the jungle area, with dense coca cultivations, alliances are now being created between the FARC’s 1st Front and the organization’s former enemy, the Popular Revolutionary Antiterrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC), in order to further the two groups’ lucrative drug trade.