Colombia’s defense minister claimed Monday that the security situation in the country is far from out of control and that the upcoming elections will be the safest in years.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon made the comments in response to two deadly attacks by left wing guerrilla group FARC on Friday and Saturday, which left 20 members of the armed forces dead. The attacks are the deadliest this year and come only weeks after President Juan Manuel Santos replaced the entire command of Colombia’s Armed Forces.
“Of course there are complex situations, but it’s far from getting out of hand, we now have an election coverage greater than that of any other elections,” said the defense minister.
The FARC attacks, which took place in the departments of Nariño, Arauca, and Caqueta, caused President Santos to hold an emergency security council meeting in the town of Tame in the Arauca department on Sunday.
Following the meeting in Tame, Santos launched “Operation Democracy,” an initiative intended to “protect the right to elect and be elected.”
Pinzon also added that the elections, to take place Sunday, would be heavily protected by 300,000 members of the Colombian military and police force.
Despite the defense ministers assurances, Colombia’s president acknowledged that it was flaws in security protocols that led to the death of 21 military personnel.
The minister’s promises of safety during the upcoming elections were further undermined by investigations by the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) and a non-governmental organization called Nuevo Arco Iris, both of whom revealed Monday that the possibility of fraud, corruption, and influence of illegal armed groups at the upcoming elections was very likely.
The MOE revealed Monday that this election period has been one of the most violent in recent years, with 41 candidates murdered and 158 candidates falling victim to political violence.