Social organisations concerned by escalation of armed conflict in Northeastern Antioquia

Northeastern Antioquia is a part of the country rich in natural resources, particularly gold, and strategically placed between Southern Bolivar and Lower Cauca. For many years the region was hit hard by the armed conflict, which led to Carrizal hamlet being chosen to become a Rural Transitional Normalisation Zone for the demobilisation of the FARC’s Fronts 4 and 24 (Magdalena Medio Block) and 37 (Caribbean Block).[1]

The hope of social organisations was that by creating this Zone, the Colombian State would turn its attention to the region, develop plans to provide electricity, water and better roads. But there are new fears and risks for the communities now that neo-paramilitaries have set up a base in the hamlet of Panama Nueve in Mina Nueva, just 40 minutes from the Zone, which is worrying the leaders at a time when the FARC’s former combatants are disarming and reintegrating into civilian life.[2]

At the current time (June 2017), the security of social leaders in the region is under threat. Social organisations such as Cahucopana, ACVC and Aheramigua have reported the presence of neo-paramilitaries who are advancing further into the area each day. The organisations have held dialogues with the diplomatic corps and Government, expressing their concerns about the dynamics in Northeastern Antioquia which closely resemble what they witnessed in 2016 with the paramilitary takeover of the Lower Cauca region.[3]  In both areas it began with the arrival of heavily armed men who patrolled the urban areas saying that they were here to stay and take control of the territory.  The groups started searching for known leaders.[4]

Despite the large numbers of military troops stationed in the region, the neo-paramilitary threat continues to advance. The ELN guerrilla group is also present, and communities fear that fighting will break out.  The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Early Warning System published several reports detailing the changes in the dynamics of the armed conflict in the region, and made recommendations for the government to prevent an escalation in the violence.[5]

Since the preparations to set up the Rural Transitional Normalisation Zone began, PBI has been travelling regularly to Northeastern Antioquia.


[1] Cahucopana, Saludo a designación de vereda del nordeste como ZVTN, 22 August 2016
[2] Radio Macondo, Nordeste antioqueño: Comunidad de Remedios en riesgo por acciones de paramilitares, 9 May 2017
[3] Prensa Rural, Crisis en Bajo Cauca: antecedentes de violencia paramilitar, 11 March 2016
[4] Radio Macondo, Paramilitares hostigan a campesinos y líderes cerca de la Zona Veredal de Carrizal, 20 May
[5] Radio Macondo, Alerta: posible incursión paramilitar en zona rural de Remedios y Segovia, 12 April 2017

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