The murder of three clowns looking for a place to pitch their circus tent in a troubled neighborhood in Cali has reflected an increasingly unstable security situation in Colombia’s third largest city.
Giovanny Noreña, Jonathan Montaño, and Oscar Higuita were murdered on March 5 because their faces were unfamiliar. While searching for a place to install the “Magic Circus” tent which provided them their livelihood, the young men found themselves victims of the grave rash of violence consuming the capital of the Valle de Cauca department.
The grief-stricken sister of Giovanny found their bodies bullet-ridden “like colanders.”
An hour after the massacre, a maid of the family claimed that the killers were the new gang leaders imposing terror on the neighborhood of Terron Colorado, and that the victims had been mistaken for members of another gang.
There are around 86 gangs that dispute the territory, many of which are involved in a combination of drug dealing, extortion and hired killing. Many of these gangs are allied with one of the two large criminal organizations in Colombia, “Los Rastrojos” and “Los Urabeños.”
Cali’s ombudsman said that 327 people were murdered in the city in the first two months of this year, an 18% increase compared to the same period in 2012.
301 of the deaths were caused by firearms, prompting Ombudsman Andres Santamaria Garrido to ask the authorities for a disarmament plan in Cali’s 22 communes. According to Garrido, 12% of the murdered individuals were minors between 13 and 17 years of age.
FACT SHEET: Cali crime statistics
- La masacre de los payasos en Cali (Semana)