The 18th Front FARC dissident group and the Gulf Clan paramilitaries are increasing their presence in the historically conflictive municipality of Ituango, Antioquia, where demobilized FARC members are especially vulnerable.
Abuses including murder, forced labor, child recruitment, and rape are often committed as part of the groups’ strategy to control the social, political, and economic life of Arauca and Apure. Impunity for such abuses is the rule.
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”).
Visiting Bojayá, Chocó, President Duque promises to increase military presence and social investment in the battered municipality.
That day, Bojayá social leader Leyner Palacios, who had met with President Duque three days before, receives a truculent letter from the commander of the Titan Joint Task Force, a Chocó-based military unit. Palacios had denounced episodes of collusion between members of the security forces and Gulf Clan paramilitaries. In what he calls a “freedom of information request,” Commander Darío Fernando Cardona Castrillón asks Palacios to provide “names or surnames of the security-force members, and the place and date during which such illegal acts were committed, so that respective investigations may be initiated.”
The ELN attacks an Air Force base in Yopal, Casanare, launching homemade explosives from a truck. One explosive lands near women’s barracks, wounding an enlisted woman. It is one of the first times the group has attacked an Air Force target, and Yopal is considered to be outside the ELN’s zone of influence.
Amid reports of 23 homicides of social leaders in December, a large-scale “Gulf Clan” paramilitary incursion in Bojayá, Chocó, and the murder of human rights defender Gloria Ocampo in Putumayo, the Presidency convenes a rare meeting of the National Security Guarantees Commission that was established by the peace accord.
Bojayá social leader Leyner Palacios, who denounced serious recent threats on his life, is invited to join the Commission’s meeting. Palacios is known nationally as a survivor of the 2002 FARC indiscriminate bombing that destroyed the village’s church, killing 79 people—including 5 of Palacios’s relatives—seeking refuge inside.
High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos voices doubt that 300 Gulf Clan members could be deployed all at once in Bojayá, as local groups have denounced.