Colombian President Gustavo Petro Sunday announced he was suspending the bilateral ceasefire with the so-called Clan del Golfo outlaw group following a mining strike that the criminal organization was promoting in the northwest region.
I have ordered the Public Force to reactivate all military operations against the Clan del Golfo. The bilateral ceasefire with this group outside the law is suspended, said Petro on Twitter. We will not allow them to continue sowing anxiety and terror in the communities, he added.
The Colombian government declared on Dec. 31 a bilateral ceasefire both to this group -also known as Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC)- and to the Central General Staff of FARC dissidents, the Second Marquetalia and the paramilitaries of the Sierra Nevada. By instigating a mining strike in Bajo Cauca Antioqueño with violent actions such as the burning of several ambulances, the Clan del Golfo no longer benefits from this measure.
Any action of pressure and coercion on the civilian population, any abusive exercise of force as has occurred in Bajo Cauca, besides being rejectable and repudiable, puts into question the will to build peace and puts into question the possibility of a ceasefire, High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, told EFE.
According to Colombian authorities, the Clan del Golfo is behind a violent mining strike that has paralyzed since March 2 the Bajo Cauca region in the department of Antioquia (northwest), where two ambulances were burned last week.
Following the destruction by the army and police of the machinery used to extract illegal gold, the miners closed roads and attacked a mayor's office and a bank in the municipality of Caucasia.
According to Petro, the Clan, a neo-paramilitary group and currently the country's largest drug cartel, prioritized the profit generated by illegal gold over peace talks. He also assured that they took advantage of the ceasefire to strengthen their presence in the illegal mines. The Clan is reportedly behind between 30 and 60% of drug exports from Colombia (equivalent to some 700 tons annually).
Petro has defended a policy of total peace to which he intends to link several armed groups operating in the country to initiate peace negotiations, although for the moment the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla is the only one with which formal dialogue has been initiated.
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