The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, proposed “building the first place of peace” during a security council held in one of the most violent areas of that country. Similarly, he assured that he will organize an assembly that brings together coca leaf collectors, in order to draw a new line in the fight against drugs. In addition, an explosive device was found near a place where the president was visiting this Saturday.
The Catatumbo region in Colombia, in the north of the country, is the area with the most cocaine exports in the world, with 40,000 hectares of coca leaf production. From there, President Gustavo Petro made new announcements with which he intends to “substantially” reduce illegal coca crops and for illegal groups to lay down their weapons in the region.
“I propose to leave that first place (in hectares of coca) last year and build the capital of peace in Colombia. That here in Catatumbo the conversations of society can be developed and that the conversations can begin somewhere to lay down arms and move on to the era of peace, ”he said from the department of Norte de Santander.
Within his proposal, Petro reiterated his intention not to criminalize coca growers. Although he did not give further details, he said that during the next few months a “social dialogue will take place in the region to make a course of State policies to be implemented, added to the opening of a public university in the municipality of El Tarra.”
Petro said he was the first president of Colombia to visit Catatumbo
Despite the violence in the area, Petro went there and lamented that “this town has undoubtedly suffered exclusion as a territory (…), it has been the victim of innumerable violences, in a territory where a good part of the alphabet has been used to baptize illegal organizations”.
Last Wednesday, a presidential convoy that was traveling as an advance guard to guarantee the security of the Colombian president during his visit was attacked in a sector known as San Pablo. Six armed men set up an illegal checkpoint “which the caravan ignored and for which the three vehicles were hit with firearms,” reported the Presidency.
Similarly, on Thursday at least two soldiers were injured by the activation of a minefield when the army carried out an operation. Catatumbo covers 10,089 square kilometers, mostly jungle, and has been one of the regions most affected by violence throughout Colombia’s history.
It is currently the scene of constant confrontations for the control of drug trafficking by the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the 33rd front of the FARC dissidents, a redoubt of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) and other illegal groups. .
In addition, its proximity to the Venezuelan border, the breakdown of diplomatic relations and the lack of articulation between Venezuelan entities, has made it a propitious place for members of illegal groups to seek refuge on the other side of the border, increasing the violence in the area.
A new threat for Petro
Members of the Police and part of the security advance of the Presidency found an explosive device near a school in a municipality in the department of Antioquia, where the president of Colombia held a public act this Saturday. The security team carried out an inspection with the help of anti-explosive dogs.
“The canines tested positive for an explosive situation. To ensure and provide greater security in the area, a countercharge is activated so that if there is another explosive, it is under control and handled in a controlled manner,” he told the media. the commander of the Antioquia Police, Colonel Daniel Mazo.
Shortly after the president’s arrival in the area, the authorities proceeded to carry out the controlled detonation of the device. The left-wing president Gustavo Petro proposed to visit the 60 municipalities most affected by the armed conflict in the coming months.
The intellectual author of the event is still unknown, however, this area is a strategic route for drug trafficking, since it leads to the border with Panama. There is a presence of various armed groups, such as dissidents from the Farc and the paramilitary Clan del Golfo.
Petro’s latest announcements
Since the new president took office on August 7, he has made various announcements that have caused a stir in certain sectors of society and in the opposition. He recently proposed to the United States government to change the extradition agreements for drug traffickers to that country.
Similarly, its defense minister said that no bombings will be carried out during military operations in camps where intelligence detects the presence of minors. On the other hand, Petro has expressed his intention to resume the peace talks with the ELN, which were suspended in 2018 during the government of conservative Iván Duqe.
A few days after taking office, the new Colombian president sent a delegation from his government to Cuba to resume talks with the guerrilla group. In order to demonstrate his openness to dialogue, the president ordered the suspension of the arrest warrants for the negotiators of that group.
For his part, the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, who visited Colombia this week on a tour of Latin America, offered his country as the venue for a possible resumption of the peace talks.
Gustavo Petro became the first leftist president in the republican history of Colombia, surpassing his opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, with only a 3.2% difference on June 19.
In the campaign and after almost a month in office, Petro has called for a more “humane” government, where human rights prevail and more visibility is given to communities that have been historically forgotten by the State.
However, the new president, who was a three-time candidate to compete for the position he leads today, is under pressure from a polarized country that has only been governed by the right throughout its history.
With EFE and local media
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