Paramilitaries "Vacationing" in Sucre

Sucre’s newly-elected Governor, Jorge “Tuto” Barraza, convened his first security council meeting yesterday, apparently in response to citizen complaints about the emergence of new paramilitary groups in San Onofre. Today’s El Meridiano de Sucre reports that after meeting for a few hours the security council determined that the citizens of San Onofre were “just confused.” Governor Barraza went on to explain that several demobilized paramilitaries returned to San Onofre to spend their year-end holidays on the beaches near San Onofre, alarming citizens who recognized them. Governor Barraza concluded by claiming there were no emergent paramilitary groups in all of Sucre.

Here are three reports Governor Barraza should read:


1. The latest report from the Organization of American States – Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OEA)
{english, spanish} . In this report from October they list Sucre as one of the departments with a high incidence of violence related to emergent paramilitary groups, including murders of mid-level commanders vying for power in the “new” structures.

2. The November INDEPAZ Report on New Paramilitary Groups {spanish}, which documents 200 new paramilitaries in Sucre (listing the police as a source).

3. Colombia’s New Armed Groups by the International Crisis Group {english, spanish}, which indicates Sucre (in the green loop on the map to the right) as a department with new illegal armed groups.

Governor Barraza’s claim that there are no new paramilitaries in Sucre is absurd. But his insensitive dismissal of his citizen’s concerns about the presence of paramilitaries in San Onofre is down-right cruel and alarming.

San Onofre has emerged as a symbol of the victims (of paramilitary/state crimes) movement, due to the bravery of its citizens who were among the first to come forward with information about mass graves filled with hundreds of the paramilitaries’ victims in and around San Onofre (to date some 1300 bodies have been exhumed).

Just days prior to the Governor’s security council, the nearby community of Chengue mourned the 7th anniversary of one of Colombia’s most gruesome paramilitary massacres. To date just one paramilitary has been punished for this crime (following a nightmare induced confession).

I wish I could believe Governor Barraza’s claim that this is all just a misunderstanding, but the experts and victims seem to agree… the paramilitaries in Sucre are up to more than just enjoying their retirement.

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