Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Colombia: It Seems That Even President Santos is Being Fatigued by the Death Toll

According to The Latin American TribuneColombian President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered the military and police to “intensify” operations against leftist guerrillas and criminal gangs following a joint attack in the north that left seven policemen dead and five others injured.

“This crime will not go unpunished,” he said Tuesday (September 16), while condemning the killing of the policemen. 

President Santos said that the attack on the police in Tierradentro, in the Caribbean department of Cordobá, was the work of an alliance between a group of guerrillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Usuga Clan, a criminal gang of paramilitary origin. 

The incident occurred early Tuesday when the police patrol was ambushed in Tierradentro, a small town in the municipality of Montelibano, where Police Commissioner Gen, Rodolfo Palomino traveled after the attack.

“I gave instructions to General Palomino who went to the site of the incident, and have given instructions to him and to all the commanders of our military forces so that they intensify the offensive that we must maintain against these organizations,” Santos said. 

In a Twitter message, Gen. Palomino promised to “pursue the killers where they are.” 

COMMENT: One message that I have been consistent about in recent years is the failure of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to fully comprehend the benefit of a cease-fire as a condition of bilateral peace talks.

In the past, I have deferred to President Santos' decision out of respect, but as I continue to witness the collateral death toll rise of law-abiding Colombians rise in increasing numbers, I can no longer remain silent.

Having been around slightly longer than the Colombian president and having spent roughly 50 years analyzing politically motivated unrest as well as economically motivated violence, I must acknowledge that in my nearly 50 years in federal law enforcement, I have never witnessed an insurgency whereby hostile forces continued to engage themselves militarily in the ABSENCE of declared cease-fire.

It would be useful in knowing from the Colombian president why a cease-fire has NEVER worked in the past?

A declared cease-fire is seemingly the only way of determining that all hostile parties are genuinely serious about ending a 50-year war. Think of it, the government's hostilities began in 1964!

Santos called the attack “cowardly” and said that it “deserves the repudiation of all Colombians.” 

“Our hearts are with the families of those policemen, those heroes of the homeland,” Santos added. 

Ten days ago, police killed two members of the Usuga Clan in an operation carried out against its leadership and the authorities are now investigating if Tuesday’s attack was an act of revenge. 

Tuesday’s attack was condemned by the Public Defender, Jorge Armando Otalora, who said that such an action in which firearms and explosives were used was not justified in the context of the armed conflict. 

The last FARC attack against the police took place last month when three members of the highway police died in the southwestern region of Cauca. 

Despite almost two years of peace talks being held between the government and FARC in Havana, clashes continue because of a Presidential decision not to declare a cease-fire until a peace agreement is reached.

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