Colombia armed groups have killed and wounded several people who have violated group self-imposed restrictions such as a curfew. The human rights organization reports this Human Rights Watch.
The groups have communicated their own rules to local residents in at least eleven of the 32 states. They have wanted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by imposing stricter restrictions than the Colombian government.
In some areas, for example, groups are not allowed to leave the sick to a health center during a curfew, even though the country’s government allows them to leave home for essential reasons. In addition, poor areas have had difficulty accessing food due to restrictions from both the government and criminal groups.
compliance is brutally monitored, according to Human Rights Watch: Civilians have been threatened with violence, attacked and killed by shooting.
The organization has confirmed the deaths of at least nine people in three states. Eight of them were civilians who did not comply with the restrictions. One of those killed was a community leader who opposed illegal means by groups.
Some of the attacks have targeted migrants from Venezuela, who are accused by armed groups of spreading the disease to Colombia.
the rules has been announced, among other things, in flyers or Whatsapp messages. There have been widespread restrictions: curfews, quarantines, restrictions on people, cars and boats, and restrictions on shop opening hours.
Human Rights Watch has obtained information by interviewing area leaders, police, prosecutors and humanitarian workers, and examined leaflets.
According to the organization, the activities of criminal groups are the result of the Colombian government’s failure to establish a credible presence of state actors in remote areas. Because of this, groups can operate in the areas arbitrarily.
restrictions factions invented include left-wing new groups formed after the abolition of the former FARC guerrilla movement and the National Liberation Army ELN, as well as the far-right guerrilla movement AUC.
For example, a leaflet published by ELN states that they “are forced to kill people to save lives” because the population has not obeyed the rules enough.
Colombia will soon have nearly 300,000 confirmed infections and nearly 10,000 deaths. The country has had severe restrictions since March and society is still very closed.
Also in other Latin American countries, various gangs and armed groups have taken restrictive measures in a number of ways, says Time magazine. In Mexico, for example, drug cartels have distributed food boxes to people in financial difficulties. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, criminal gangs have quarantined fossils and threatened residents with violence.
Colombian expert interviewed by the magazine Juan Pappier Human Rights Watch says groups can work to improve their reputation and legitimize their power among local communities. In addition, groups fear that the pandemic will severely affect their business activities such as drug and human trafficking in the long run, which is why they want to prevent the virus from spreading.
Pappier warns that poverty caused by a pandemic will increase the number of people who are easy to recruit for illegal activities.
“In an environment like this, these groups do best.”
At worst, under the guise of a coronavirus situation, groups can take on communities on a permanent basis.
Latin American countries are currently the worst part of the pandemic. The highest number of infections has been in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.