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Petro issues an ultimatum to the Gulf Clan and considers bombing them

2024-02-24T05:04:35.252Z

Highlights: Petro issues an ultimatum to the Gulf Clan and considers bombing them. Colombia's main drug trafficking gang closes the doors of total peace, the president's flagship policy. The Gulf Clan is responsible for about half of the drugs that have left Colombia in recent years, according to authorities. The group has gone from having around 4,000 members in 2010 to more than 6,000 in 2018. It is an organized crime structure that is advancing towards the configuration of a large army, warns Gerson Arias.


Colombia's main drug trafficking gang closes the doors of total peace, the president's flagship policy


Military bombings against armed groups in Colombia are once again on the table, for the first time in the year and a half that President Gustavo Petro has been in power.

The announcement by the Military Forces – as long as it is confirmed that there is no presence of minors in the camps – came after last week an ambush by the Clan del Golfo killed four soldiers in Segovia, in the northeast of Antioquia. .

That episode, the umpteenth attack by the main drug trafficking gang against uniformed officers in recent times, also made the president himself toughen his tone.

“His activity has focused on the illicit economies that we are hitting,” he said about the military offensive underway.

And he issued an ultimatum: “If they are not able to dismantle themselves, as we have requested, they will be destroyed by the State.”

Petro's patience with the Gulf Clan has run out.

Every week there is news related to his actions somewhere in Colombia.

A couple of weeks ago, on the occasion of the visit of the UN Security Council, the president had said in the Casa de Nariño that at the moment there are no contacts with that group.

There is also no legal framework for eventual submission, and the Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, has said unequivocally that it is not a priority in the Government's busy legislative agenda.

Incapable of taking steps towards collective submission and involved in countless illicit revenues, the Gulf Clan seems to have closed the doors of the total peace policy with which the president intends to negotiate simultaneously with various armed groups.

Beyond the ups and downs, this setback contrasts with the open dialogue tables with the ELN guerrillas and the dissidents of the extinct FARC grouped in the self-proclaimed Central General Staff (EMC).

In both cases, ceasefires have been agreed that are valid until the middle of the year, and the Government has already announced its intention to start a process with the other large group of dissidents, the Second Marquetalia.

“The Government exhausted the political capital of total peace in the negotiations with the ELN and the EMC,” says analyst Jorge Mantilla, an expert in armed conflict, criminal governance and security.

The rapprochements with the Clan del Golfo, a band that has gone by several names, on the contrary, have not crystallized.

“There is no time or legal framework” for it to fit into total peace, as the president originally proposed, he adds.

“I think it is evident that peace is not going to be total.

That is positive, to the extent that it reflects the scope of what the Government can do.”

The Clan calls itself the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) and emerged after the demobilization of paramilitary groups during the Government of Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

The one who has been its maximum leader, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, Otoniel, recycled several times in the criminal world after having been a member of the EPL guerrilla and the paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), was captured in October 2021 and extradited to the United States.

The then president, Iván Duque, grandly celebrated it as the “most important coup of this century against drug trafficking,” which marked the end of the gang.

He was flat out wrong.

His extradition did not diminish the power of the Clan del Golfo, now headed by Jobanis de Jesús Ávila, alias

Chiquito Malo

.

On the contrary, it has expanded since then.

The Gulf Clan is responsible for about half of the drugs that have left Colombia in recent years, according to authorities.

Its tentacles extend to criminal control exercises associated with extortion, illegal mining and even the capture of public resources through municipal administrations.

It is also involved in the record passage of migrants through the dangerous routes that cross the thick Darién jungle that separates Colombia and Panama;

This alarming flow occurs thanks to the dominance exercised by the Colombian side.

The gang maintains open wars with different groups, including the ELN in the department of Chocó, where it intends to control the exits to the Pacific Sea.

“It is an organized crime structure that is progressively advancing towards the configuration of a large army, with a large presence in the northwestern and northern areas of the country,” warns Gerson Arias, a conflict and organized violence researcher at the Ideas for Peace Foundation, which prepares a report on the last attempt at negotiation with the Gulf Clan in the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018).

The group has gone from having around 4,000 members in 2018 to more than 6,000 today, with attempts to take on a more political character.

“We still do not understand the magnitude of how the Clan works,” says Arias, who lacks a strategic perspective to deal with that reality.

Given the Government's recent offensive, Mantilla envisions two possible scenarios.

That the Clan enters a moment of waiting, of consolidating what has already been achieved, or that what happened at the end of Duque's period occurs again, when the 'armed strikes' with which they confine the population and the 'pistol plans' intensified. 'that attack the public force, with the purpose of putting pressure on the Government.

Far, in any case, from total peace.

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Source: elparis

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