Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Is Duque Setting the Best Course for Colombia's Security?

Photo: @IvanDuque via Twitter. Colombian President Iván Duque visited teh Tolemaida military base earlier this month. // Photo: @IvanDuque via Twitter.

On Feb. 6, Colombian President Iván Duque announced a new hardline security policy that bans bilateral ceasefires, pledging to preserve the country’s military options so as “not to allow violence and terror to be methods to gain any rights and privileges.” Bilateral ceasefires had been used by the previous administration to foster peace talks with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, rebel group and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas. The new strategy also calls for a million Colombians to join a “citizens’ network” that would inform on illegal activity and support the military and police. A day later, the ELN released a Colombian soldier, the fourth hostage it let go in less than a week. How well is Duque’s government responding to guerrilla violence in Colombia? What are the most important parts of the new security policy, and what consequences will it have? Are the ELN and Colombian officials headed to the negotiating table any time soon?

 

Humberto de la Calle, former vice president, interior minister and chief negotiator in the peace process with the FARC in Colombia: After a significant improvement in security figures, particularly in the areas of homicides and kidnappings, concerns and threats that were believed to have been overcome have emerged. This has led the Colombian president to prepare a security policy that focuses on several points: first, citizen participation, by creating a civilian network made up of one million informants. Second is allowing for the carrying of weapons—the Ministry of Defense has been authorized to apply exceptions to the ban on private individuals’ weapons. Third is controlling the consumption of narcotics. The permissiveness of so-called minimum doses has disappeared, and the police is now authorized to confiscate such amounts of drugs. Fourth is harder conditions against the surviving guerrilla—talks with the ELN would only resume if hostilities cease. And fifth, the revision of the agreement ending the conflict with the FARC. It is too early to evaluate the results of this security policy, and there is a division of opinions. There are fears over…”

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