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Alarming Stats: 1 in 4 Colombian Municipalities at Risk for Violence Ahead of Regional Elections


Discover how Colombian municipalities face electoral and violence risks. MOE's warning ahead of regional elections
1 in 4 Colombian municipalities face electoral and violence risks. MOE warns of challenges ahead of regional elections. Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photograph / FLICKR (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Colombia is facing a critical situation as regional elections loom on the horizon. The Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE) has issued a stern warning regarding Colombian municipal electoral risks. These risks encompass a broad spectrum, including the threat of violence, potential fraud, and various challenges that could impact the integrity of the elections.

The Disturbing Statistics

Recent findings from the MOE have revealed that approximately one in four municipalities across Colombia is currently grappling with some form of risk related to the upcoming elections. These risks are not uniform, and they encompass a range of factors that could potentially disrupt the electoral process. Among the concerns are threats of violence, the presence of armed groups, infringements on press freedom, disruptions to the mobility of citizens, and harm to community leaders.

Electoral Risks of Fraud and Violence

With just a month to go before the regional elections scheduled for October 29th, the MOE’s alarm bells have rung loud and clear. The organization has identified 166 municipalities that face Colombian municipal electoral risks, with a specific focus on issues related to fraud and violence. However, a more extensive concern looms over 312 municipalities threatened by violence, creating a complex and challenging environment for the democratic process.

Regional Hotspots

These risks are not evenly distributed across the country. Specific regions have been persistently vulnerable to threats for over 15 years. The first corridor stretches from La Guajira through Norte de Santander and concludes in Arauca. Another corridor extends from the Venezuelan border in Norte de Santander to the Urabá region in Antioquia and Chocó. The third region encompasses the Colombian Pacific coast, while the fourth comprises the middle and lower Putumayo, Caquetá, and the Southeast of the country.

Antioquia’s Challenge

Antioquia, one of Colombia’s most significant departments, is grappling with its share of these challenges. Out of 125 municipalities in Antioquia, six face medium electoral risk, fourteen are at high risk, and thirteen are at extreme risk. This means that approximately one in four municipalities in Antioquia faces Colombian municipal electoral risks. Nationally, one out of every ten municipalities at risk is located within this department.

Widespread Electoral Risks

The MOE’s concerns extend beyond individual departments. They have called attention to the fact that 596 municipalities in Colombia, totaling nearly 28% of the country’s municipalities, are under some level of risk. Of these, 125 are at extreme risk, 97 at high risk, and 90 at medium risk. The risks are widespread and encompass issues related to violence, electoral dominance, voter participation, null votes, unmarked ballots, and electoral migration.

In summary, Colombia is grappling with a complex and multifaceted challenge as it prepares for regional elections. The presence of Colombian municipal electoral risks has cast a shadow over the democratic process. These risks are not confined to a few isolated areas but are spread across the country, affecting a significant portion of its municipalities. Addressing these concerns will be crucial in ensuring the integrity and fairness of the upcoming elections.

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