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Confrontations between armed groups causes mass displacement in Buenaventura

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

Source: El Tiempo

On July 3, members of the Alberto Lleras Camargo neighborhood, in Buenaventura, witnessed several confrontation between armed groups that caused the mass displacement of hundreds of residents.

Around 100 families from nearby neighborhoods were displaced. 25 people are currently seeking refuge in the city’s coliseum, while another 200 people remain in the offices of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

In light of the crisis, residents of the Alberto Lleras Camargo neighborhood issued a public statement in which they denounce abuses by the Colombian security forces, and claimed that the National Police, the SIJIN, and the Marine Corps, are collaborating with a Neo-paramilitary group known as "La Local".

The Colombian security forces, tasked with protecting the civilian population, have instead provided protection to "Mapaya" and "Diego Ostra", both members of “La Local”. According to residents, the state security forces have even printed badly prepared and unofficial pamphlets, indicating that they are looking for the two criminals, when in fact they back them, simply as a strategy to trick the population.

The letter states that there is no presence of the ELN or FARC-dissidents in their community, but rather these groups are being used by state security forces to further militarize their communities and cover the illegal actions of State agents.

Beginning Friday, June 28, violence intensified in several neighborhoods of Buenaventura. The crossfire between armed groups began in the Punta Icaco Humanitarian Zone, with sporadic shootings that lasted until 6:00 p.m.

Punta Icaco Humanitarian Zone

The next day, on Saturday June 29, there was a confrontation between armed groups, which developed in Bella Vista, which left two people dead. Families from the neighborhood Palo Seco were also forced to seek refuge in other neighborhoods with relatives and acquaintances.

On Sunday, June 30, early in the morning shots were heard in the sector of Piedras Cantan, Comuna 4, and Palo Seco de la Comuna 5. In the evening, at 7:00 p.m. in the neighborhood Alberto Lleras, a confrontation between armed groups claimed the life of a young student from the Francisco José de Caldas school.

On Tuesday, July 2 at 7:00 am, in the Alberto Lleras neighborhood, there were shootings in front of two schools, which forced the suspension of academic activities.

Additionally, leaders of the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Zone are in danger, after receiving multiple death threats.

La Playita, Buenaventura. Photo by PBI Colombia

The situation of violence in Buenaventura has worsened significantly, due to the presence of Neo-paramilitary groups being backed by the government security forces, who have allowed these groups to operate with impunity and enforce complete territorial control over the civilian population.

Although Colombian government institutions and security forces have been present in the area, residents claims they are being victimized by the government, due to the complete negligence by local authorities with respect to actions taken by illegal armed groups, and instead are opting to protect them and cover up their actions.

Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective joins our partners in denouncing these grave violation of individual, collective and territorial rights, by illegal armed groups in collaboration with the Colombian state security forces.


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