Vargas Lleras announces plan to improve urban security

In a interview with Radio Santa Fe, Colombian Minister for the Interior and Justice German Vargas Lleras announced the new government’s plan to increase public safety in cities.

“The new challenge for the national government is called citizen security,” said the minister. Previous President Alvaro Uribe often spoke of his “democratic security” policies, a series of hardline measures to combat illegal armed groups and increase state presence across the country.

Vargas Lleras said that the new policy, which will be implemented as part of a “shock plan” to improve citizen security, will include judicial reform to confront the problem of impunity.

The minister said he will meet with national police commissioner General Oscar Naranjo on Monday to design a plan to strengthen urban security. According to Radio Santa Fe, violence is worst in the Colombian cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali, despite reports that the murder rate per capita in the Colombian capital fell 0.9% in the first seven months of 2010, compared to the same period last year.

Gang warfare is rampant in the poorer suburbs of Medellin. According to the Medellin Mayor’s Office 1,322 people have been reported murdered in the city so far this year, which is a 12% increase in murders compared to the same period in 2009.

The “citizen security” policy of the new administration of Juan Manuel Santos is part of the “democratic prosperity” platform that the Colombian leader campaigned on in the lead-up to the Andean nation’s June 2010 presidential elections.

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