Popular support for Colombia’s armed forces has dropped to its lowest level of this century, a Gallup poll released on Thursday said.
According to the Gallup poll, the military is seen favorably by 64% of the population in Colombia’s five largest cities.
The popularity of the armed forces dropped 16% since January when the military could still count on the support of 80% of the urban dwellers.
Favorability of Colombia’s military
The drop is likely due to recent high-profile allegations of the army illegally wiretapping peace talks negotiators, opposition politicians and journalists, and the same military’s alleged involvement in illegal arms trafficking and embezzlement of funds.
The scandals forced the resignation of nine generals, including the commander of the armed forces and the Military Intelligence commander.
The last time the military underwent a purge was in November 2008 when media began widely reporting on the extrajudicial executions of civilians carried out by the military in order to increase the institution’s apparent effectiveness against an ongoing war against leftist guerrilla groups like the FARC and ELN.
This scandal — involving the killing of more than 4,000 civilians — resulted in only a minor drop in popularity; from 79% to 77%.
The latest low approval of the military coincided with an increased sense of insecurity experienced by Colombians in the city; Since President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August 2010, the percentage of Colombian urban dwellers who said security in their cities was deteriorating has increased from 62% to 80%.
The perceived deterioration of security caused a record low in the support for Colombia’s police; 55% of polled Colombians said to think favorably of the police force, while 43% said opposite. When Santos took office, police popularity was at 71%.
Favorability of Colombia’s police
- #99 Colombia Febrero 2014 (Gallup)