Car-Bombing Highlights State’s Culpability in Colombia’s Violence

On Friday, March 26, a car bomb in the town of Corinto in the Cauca department was detonated, leaving 43 people injured, including 11 public officials, and causing heavy damages. Diego Molano, recently appointed Defense Minister, accused the Molano Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column, a dissident group of the FARC, of carrying out the attack.

Corinto, a town of about 35,000 residents, has become, according to authorities, a strategic area on a crowded drug and weapons route heading towards the southwestern part of the country. This has made it a much-disputed territory amongst armed groups. According to the Colombian government, these disputes are what led to this most recent attack. The aliases ‘Cejas’ and either ‘David’ or ‘Cholinga,’ of the ‘Dagoberto Ramos’ dissidence were identified.

Molano, who recently sparked outrage in Colombia after referring to the 12 children who were killed by a military bombing of a FARC dissident camp as “war machines,” expressed solidarity with all those who were affected by the most recent attack.

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He also raised the reward for information on the location of the two main leaders of the FARC dissident group to 200 million pesos (about USD 55,000) as well as announced an increase in military operations in the area against illegal armed groups.

Colombian President Ivan Duque visited the site of the attack the day it occurred, pronouncing the persecution of those behind the attack and all armed groups.

“We will continue to confront and persecute terrorism wherever it is. There is a clear instruction that I have given to the military leadership and also to the Minister of Defense to make a presence in the department of Cauca, assess each of the facts and, in addition, we go after the material and intellectual authors of this execrable threat against the Corinto community, in the department of Cauca, ” Duque said.

According to the police, in addition to the “Dagoberto Ramos” group fighting with the ELN in northern Cauca, there are also disputes between the “Jaime Martínez” and the Sixth Front of the FARC. Further north of Cauca there is the “Andrey Peñaranda Ramírez” front of the EPL, the ‘Pelusos’ as well as paramilitary groups, such as the Gaitanistas, all who war for illicit crops and weapons and harm innocent people.

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Molano noted that dozens of people they believe are associated with armed groups have been captured along this drug route, which ultimately carries drugs and weapons from Pasto up the Panamericana and trails to the north of Cauca, passing through Corinto towards Jamundí (Valle), where last year there were two massacres; one that left five people dead in January and the other with four victims in September.

An increase in military presence in such a hotly contended area will only ensure more chaos, to the detriment of innocent civilians caught in the middle of a reignited civil war.

The U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia released a statement the same day rejecting this attack and all of the recent violence which has taken place in Cauca department and other regions of the country. The Mission was given responsibility for the verification of the Agreement between the Government and FARC-EP on the Bilateral and Definitive Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities and Laying down of Arms in 2016.

The Mission failed to remark on the military bombing of the dissident camp earlier this month, or any other violent actions by the Colombian government against the people of Colombia, incontestably failing at their mandate to ensure the bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.

In their March 26 statement, the Mission reaffirmed its commitment to the efforts of building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia but failed to specify any steps they are actually taking to foster this.

According to the statement, the Mission “calls for the implementation of concrete measures for the comprehensive protection of all communities as well as the strengthening of security guarantees in the territories affected by this violence.”

 

 

Featured image: File Photo

(Diaspora Tribune)  by Valentina Reyes

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