Governor of Antioquia, conservative Andres Julian Rendon, has caused controversy with the announcement of involving citizens in policing and the fight against insecurity. The recently inaugurated regional leader announced the creation of “citizen security fronts” in the department to fight crime, after a security council was held as a consequence of the Clan del Golfo bomb attack, which on January 3 killed one professional soldier and injured twelve others.
Rendon, a politician of the Democratic Center, the party led by former president Alvaro Uribe, conducted his successful campaign under the banner of ‘the fight against insecurity’, something that is very common among Colombian politicians, in view of the traditionally high crime figures in the country.
Controversial announcement after an attack
The new governor of Antioquia made several announcements on security matters after yesterday’s council meeting. He spoke, for example, of reinforcing the reward system to find the whereabouts of criminals. However, the proposal that has generated the most controversy was the creation of what he called “security fronts” and a “network of law enforcement cooperators”.
In response to the criticism, Rendon explained that these collectives “would not be armed” and “would not harm anyone”, defending his initiative to strengthen citizen collaboration with the security forces.
“These situations (criminal acts) can be avoided if there is timely information from the citizens to the authorities,” said the departmental governor in a press conference, adding that “this does not have to scare anyone, on the contrary, it is something that will result in more tranquility for all Antioquians. Everything we do in the departmental government will be framed within the strict framework of the constitution and the law”.
The shadow of the paramilitary past
The proposal has raised much controversy in certain sectors of the country because it harkens back to a recent past of paramilitarism, where the violence of the illegal armed groups of the extreme right provoked all kinds of abuses against the civilian population, in many cases in collaboration with police and military forces.
In this respect, Max Gil Ramirez, former member of the truth commission, expressed his disagreement and concern about Governor Rendon’s proposal. For the professor of the Institute of Political Studies of the University of Antioquia, involving civilians in these types of security strategies tends to result in “paramilitary expressions”.
“Governor, we already know what the security cooperatives, the citizen fronts, the networks of cooperants and informants ended up in: in the strengthening of paramilitarism, in extrajudicial executions and thousands of victims; are we going to live the same again?”, asked the professor through his social networks.
Gil Ramirez added that “part of paramilitarism (…) is the expression of the resistance of the elites, local and national, to modernization processes. It seems that in some parts of the country this is becoming more and more evident”, and he wondered “are (we) facing a new paramilitary generation?”