Fighting between the Gulf Clan and dissidents from the FARC’s 18th Front displaces 863 people in the rural zone of Ituango, Antioquia, which lies on a strategic trafficking route. Some say they were given ten minutes to leave their homes on pain of death.
Intelligence sources tellEl Colombiano that the displacement is a tactic that armed groups use when they are in a position of weakness. “The people in the 18th Front residual group are surrounded by Gulf Clan personnel. So they pressure the communities to displace the that automatically obligates the Army to mobilize its troops, avoiding the other group’s advance.
Earlier in the month, the entire remaining population of the Santa Lucía FARC demobilization site (ETCR) in Ituango—62 former fighters and 45 relatives—decided to abandon the site within 60 days due to threats. Twelve former FARC members have been killed in Ituango, more than any other municipality. Departmental and national government agencies are discussing options with the ETCR’s residents.
The Army’s 7th Division reports on January 30 that it had learned of a plot by FARC dissident groups to assassinate ex-guerrillas living at the Santa Lucía facility.
Alarm grows over environmental damage wrought by armed groups. FARC dissidents are believed responsible for a fire in La Macarena National Park, near the popular Caño Cristales tourist destination.
FARC dissidents, some from the “Carolina Ramírez Front,” threaten park rangers in Chiribiquete National Park in Caquetá, ordering them to leave. Similar threats occur in as many as nine other parks. More than 9 million hectares of parks in Colombia’s Amazon basin region lack official presence.
Security forces believe the dissidents intend to expand coca cultivation in the parks. They contend that the groups’ actions are a response to “Operation Artemis,” a military operation that aims to curtail deforestation.
A Bogotá judge sends to preventive detention six people with alleged ties to FARC dissident groups, who stand accused of infiltrating Colombia’s massive November 21 protests and committing acts of violence and vandalism. They are allegedly tied to the dissident organizations of Gentil Duarte in Guaviare and “Jerónimo” in Arauca.
More than 10 days of fighting between FARC dissident factions and paramilitaries displaces over 3,000 people in Tumaco, Nariño. The dissident factions are the Oliver Sinisterra Front and the Comandante Alfonso Cano Western Bloc, the paramilitary group is called “Los Contadores” (“The Bookkeepers”).
National Police Chief Gen. Óscar Atehortua claims that his forces foiled a plot by two former FARC combatants to assassinate maximum FARC party leader Rodrigo Londoño. Police killed the two alleged assailants in Quindío department, apparently in self-defense, near where Londoño was vacationing. Gen. Atehortua, Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, and National Protection Unit Director Pablo Elías González visited Londoño to tell him about the operation. They cited information that the two would-be assailants may have been sent by the FARC dissident faction led by former top leader and negotiator Iván Márquez.
“I’m here talking to you thanks to the Police and Army of Colombia, who were always guarding my life and frustrated the assassination,” Londoño tells a Quindío newspaper.
A top member of that faction, Henry Castellanos alias “Romaña,” denies on his Facebook page that the Márquez faction had anything to do with a plot against Londoño.
Security analyst León Valencia tellsEl Tiempo, “I believe there is much resentment, and one can see it, within the FARC, but I find it hard to believe the the first one they would confront would be Timochenko [Londoño].”
The girlfriend of one of the dead alleged hitmen cast doubt on the official story by sharing with prosecutors a WhatsApp message from him, minutes before he died, reading “My love, I’ll write you back, the Police just arrived.”