Massacres increased in the first 100 days of Gustavo Petro's presidency, according to Pares

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In Colombia, at least 32 massacres occurred during this start of his mandate. Cauca and Valle were the most affected departments

Massacres increased in the first 100 days of Gustavo Petro's presidency, according to Pares

The organization points out that the Ministry of Defense underreports these massacres. (Credit: Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez)

The highest peak of massacres in Colombia in 2022 was registered during the first 100 days of the mandate of the current president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro. In addition, the official figures show an underreporting of collective homicides, with respect to the data that civil society has collected. These are some of the conclusions reached by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Pares) in its management report on this start of the presidential term.

According to the Pares report, between August 7 —the date of Petro's inauguration— and October 27, 32 massacres occurred, while the Ministry of Defense barely had 25 in its account. In August the peak of massacres of this period occurred: 16 cases. The number halved in September and dropped to seven in October.

The departments with the most cases were Cauca and Valle del Cauca, with five massacres respectively, followed by Atlántico (four cases), Bolívar and Bogotá (three cases respectively). In total, there were massacres in 14 of the 32 departments of the national territory and the most vulnerable areas were those along the coast and on the border.

In addition, the number of cases and victims of massacres and displacements Forced labor is also on the rise. In the case of forced confinement, the number decreased at the national level but is concentrated —and increasing— in three departments, mainly in regions inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations.

For Pares, the situation of violence in these 100 days would not have changed much in the territories. In general, the report pointed out, “none of the previous experiences of submission to justice, nor the previous peace processes in Colombia, have managed to prevent new organized violence from taking shape. This was clear in groups that were formed after demobilization or subjugation processes, such as the Clan del Golfo or AGC”.

Nevertheless, the organization highlighted the efforts that have been made to restore order, such as the amendment to Law 418 of 1997 —known as the Total Peace Law—, the implementation of the agreements with the extinct FARC guerrilla and the rapprochement with armed groups of a political nature, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“They are a window of opportunity to promote and generate a great national dialogue, not only around this process with the ELN, but broadly around peace throughout the country. This requires the participation of various social sectors,” said Pares about the dialogues with this subversive group.

Disorganization in the Executive, worse not in the Legislative

The foundation's report also pointed out that Gustavo Petro's ministerial cabinet is diverse in ideology, political recognition, origin and closeness to President Petro. However, he stressed that they have problems making themselves understood by society —even, speaking out without contradicting themselves— and materializing their proposals.

However, he highlighted the discipline of the government bench in Congress, which is approving to a large extent the reforms proposed by the Petro government, versus an opposition without leadership or a clear direction, with only two legislative bills filed with little or no impact for ordinary Colombians.