Colombia: Government reacts to “army strike” by new paramilitary group
Some 500 security forces were sent to Santa Marta after the “army strike” by “Los Urabeños,” a drug-trafficking paramilitary group. (NeonTommy)
By UNIVISION NEWS
Channel: Latin American Affairs
Authorities and press only know them by the name “Los Urabeños.” They’re said to be a new drug-trafficking paramilitary group based in the northern coast of Colombia. The group declared an “armed strike” in the city of Santa Marta on Thursday – expected to finish Friday – which many residents respected out of fears for their lives.
According to InSight crime, Los Urabeños are also known as the “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” and are considered “one of the most ambitious and ruthless of Colombia’s drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs).” They’re based in the departments of Antioquia, Chocó, and Córdoba; their name comes from Urabá, a northwestern region near the Panamanian border.
Colombia’s Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzón, told La W, a national radio network, that three persons had been detained in relation to the strike. “They were medium-level leaders,” he said.
But the Santos administration has spared no resources, deploying some 500 men to Santa Marta and capturing some 30 people involved in promoting the strike.
According to ColombiaReports.org, “the Colombian army took control over the center of tourism hostpot Santa Marta where the neo-paramilitaries imposed the strike as well as in the entire Caribbean coast from the Panamanian border to the town of Tolu.”
Los Urabeños also declared an army strike in Medellín’s Comuna 13, “where the Urabeños control the local urban gangs. Towns in Choco, Colombia’s Pacific department, also shut down.”
The massive response to the strike has caught the Colombian government off-guard - even when security force presence was guaranteed, thousands of shops didn’t open. The strike is highly unusual for paramilitary groups – but were a trademark for the FARCn – and this has been the biggest to hit the country in years.