ColombiaOne.comColombia newsOrganized Crime Killings in Colombia Equal Those of 2022

Organized Crime Killings in Colombia Equal Those of 2022


Massacres Colombia
Massacres in Colombia continue and equal those of 2022 – Credit: Google Street View

The killings in Colombia in 2023 continue unabated and are already equal to those that occurred in 2022, a total of 94, according to figures from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), a non-profit organization that studies social and political violence in the country. The latest of these crimes, counted by INDEPAZ, occurred a few days ago in Mosquera, a municipality on the outskirts of Bogota, where the lifeless bodies of three people from the same family, who had been reported missing on the 23rd, were found in a rural area.

In the last two years, the figures for this type of violence have remained stable, between 93 and 94. It should be recalled that the reduction in mortality rates due to social violence was one of the electoral promises of the current president, Gustavo Petro. So far, after almost a year and a half in office, the head of state has not managed to reduce figures that he attributes to the destruction of peace with the FARC in 2016, which, according to him, occurred during the government of his predecessor, Iván Duque, who denied the extension of those agreements to other illegal groups.

Triggered since 2020

What does seem incontestable is that the number of killings in the country shot up four years ago, after the spectacular drop achieved after the Havana peace signed by President Santos (2010-2018) in 2016. This is what official data establishes: in that same year of peace, only 3 massacres were detected in Colombia, keeping figures up, but still low when compared to the following three years, 2017 (7), 2018 (16) and 2019 (16).

It is precisely from that date, and during the mandate of conservative Iván Duque, who was always critical of the peace accords and whom the current leftist government accuses of not dedicating any effort to the implementation of those pacts, that the figure skyrockets. In 2020, the massacres were 52, starting an ascent that reaches the huge numbers of the last two years, 94 and 93.

In view of this, President Petro has directly blamed former President Duque for the significant rise. “I do not like this chart, it is the number of massacres carried out per year. It was published by an opposition party: Cambio Radical. If you analyze it, you can see the double standards of the Cambio Radical party and the Democratic Center: it was under the government that they supported that massacres skyrocketed after its failure with the peace agreements”, wrote the president in his social networks.

Petro also added that “shattering Peace cost this exponential growth in the number of massacres in Duque’s government. The figure for 2023 shows that the growth has stopped, but I don’t like it at all. That curve must decrease substantially in my government”.

Nature of the killings

Small criminal groups are the main perpetrators of these crimes. According to Leonardo Gonzalez, director of INDEPAZ, the largest number of massacres are being committed by small criminal organizations that fight for corridors, drug sales and other illegal activities such as theft.

“President Petro’s Total Peace policy has focused strongly on dialogues with large groups, the ELN and FARC dissidents, but has not had the same impact on small gangs, who are being outsourced and who are committing the vast majority of massacres,” explained Gonzalez in dialogue with the publication Voz de America.

The INDEPAZ director also noted that 30% of these deaths were perpetrated by large criminal groups, but that the remaining 70% were perpetrated by small organizations dedicated, essentially, to drug micro-trafficking.

For this year, the 94 massacres leave a dark picture of more than 300 victims, especially in departments such as Valle del Cauca, Antioquia, Atlantico and Cauca. “There are common patterns in the massacres that have to do with the fact that they occur mostly on weekends in rural areas. The increase in these actions in major cities such as Cucuta, Barranquilla, Cali and Bogota is striking,” states INDEPAZ.

Accusations of deterioration in public order

At the beginning of August, the Ombudsman, Carlos Camargo, warned that “massacres also increased in the first six months of the year”, adding that these actions “have not had a direct relationship with the homicides of ex-combatants and peace signatories; so far this year there have been 19 murders of victims who are part of this population group, while last year there were 21 ex-combatants killed”.

For the political opposition, these types of actions are due precisely to the ineffectiveness of the fight against illegal organizations operating in the country. They also blame the government for favoring the growth of these illegal structures, thanks to the peace talks being held with the ELN and FARC dissidents. In fact, opposition spokesmen have shown their conviction that these armed groups do not intend to abandon their illegal activities.

Opposition senator, María Fernanda Cabal, has been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s Total Peace project for 2023. “Petro does not talk about his failure with the ELN guerrilla that promised to end dialogue in three months. One year and 4 months of talks with no results for the country,” she wrote in her social networks earlier this December.

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