Demobilized Paramilitaries Recruited in Sincelejo

In my July 23rd post I spoke of anecdotal (and personal) evidence about a surge in demobilized paramilitary crimes here in Sincelejo. The news of murders continues to be a common fixture in the El Meridiano (Sincelejo’s daily newspaper), and the city council has instructed the police to enforce a new measure prohibiting motorcyclists from carrying passengers after 9:00 p.m. (in response to hired assassins’ preferred “motorcycle drive-by” method of killing).

Sunday’s online version of El Tiempo (Colombia’s most read newspaper) carried an article about the re-recruitment of demobilized paramilitaries in Sincelejo. El Meridiano ran a similar article on Monday. Below is a translation of most of the El Tiempo article.

Demobilized AUC [paramilitaries] in Sincelejo continue committing crimes while receiving benefits from the Government.

That is what Éver Feria Tovar, the municipal human rights ombudsman is saying, after receiving complaints from demobilized paramilitaries who stated that several of their colleagues are forming new [armed] groups.

“They have people coming to recruit them and create illegal armed groups. They are offering them one million pesos [about $500] a month. Many of them have joined these armed groups, despite the fact that they are still receiving benefits from the government [for having demobilized],” stated Tovar.

“The easiest ones to recruit are the ones that didn’t get their benefits in a timely fashion and who have a family to support as well as those who are unsatisfied with the government aid.

“Despite the government aid they still have unmet needs. Because of that and their insecure financial and social situation they are forced to take this lucrative offer. Initially they were being offered 600,000 pesos a month but the offer has now gone up to a million pesos,” stated Tovar.

He added that the National Inspector General’s office already had received this complaint because it had been lodged with one of their delegates who was in Sucre three months ago.

Yet he also made it clear that he has not presented this complaint in an official way to the police, the Attorney General (Fiscalía) or the regional offices of the Administrative Security Department (DAS).

“Unfortunately some authorities are turning a blind eye to the existence of these groups, but they are really there. It may be that the authorities in charge of public safety are ignoring this because they have to report that things are calm,” affirmed Tovar.

When asked to comment Colonel Jorge Andrés Rodríguez Borbón Chief of Police in Sucre stated that they had not received a formal complaint from the municipal human rights ombudsman’s office and that they had no knowledge of the existence of any new paramilitary groups.

“We work to keep order in the city and whenever we catch a demobilized [paramilitary] who has committed a crime we turn them over to the appropriate authorities. Besides, the number of demobilized who have committed new crimes is low. In Sucre we have about 700 demobilized [paramilitaries]. Last year we arrested 44 and so far this year we have arrested 14 for committing different crimes,” stated officer Borbón.

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