Colombia must be smart in fighting criminal groups to avoid a new war


MONTEVIDEO (Sputnik) – The Colombian government cannot find a way to deal with the growth of criminal groups and that can return the country to the state of war in which it lived for 50 years, the renowned journalist Maria Teresa Ronderos told Sputnik.

"We are re-recycling the war; I am very afraid that if (the fight against criminal groups) is not handled well, in a few years we will end up with giant structures again," said Ronderos, one of the founders of the Latin American Center for Journalistic Research (CLIP).

The journalist said that these groups are a "waste" of several armed organizations, both paramilitary and ex-guerrilla, who are currently engaged in drug trafficking and illegal mining, as well as "other types of illegal traffic," and said the government does not fights "intelligently."
"They are not forces to fight with the military, but to fight with police intelligence, following (the route of) money (which they collect from their activities)" and avoiding the forced recruitment of young people, Ronderos said.

"They have not known how to fight, especially preventing those young people from being taken away, giving them other options," he added.

The multi-award-winning journalist, teacher and director of the Gabo Foundation, recalled that Colombia "is much more peaceful" than 40 or 50 years ago, with the death toll from clashes "in historical lows", and that the violence is currently "located in "specific areas.

However, so far this year have been killed at least 155 social leaders, and more than 130 demobilized guerrillas since the signing of the peace agreement in 2016, so Ronderos warned that if a strategy of "prevention is not implemented and protection "of these people, Colombia can" end in another disaster. "

According to Ronderos, among the various claims that citizens make to the Government of Ivan Duque in protests that last several weeks, is maintaining the peace agreements signed with the dissolved guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
One of the 13 points that the National Committee of the Paro presented to the Government to begin the negotiations and put an end to the protests, has to do precisely with the implementation of what was agreed in Havana between the FARC and the then president Juan Manuel Santos (2010 -2018).

"They have summed it up in 13 points, and one of the points, which is fundamental, is the defense of the peace process, which this Government, although outside says that it is supporting it, has actually been distorting it" , Ronderos said.

The journalist considered that the mobilizations are "something very positive," and questioned those who want to show them "as a tragedy or something terrible."
"This is the first really massive demonstration of people who said" no more "and who are fed up with policies that are very concentrating on wealth; this particular government presented a lot of proposals, which if you look at them in detail, they all have to see increasing inequality, "he explained.

Four people died during the protests, while more than 177 civilians were injured along with more than 340 Public Force agents.

Ronderos participated in an event organized by the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on Monday and Tuesday in Montevideo to celebrate his 70 years of presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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