Paramilitaries resurface in northeastern region of Catatumbo

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 22 February 2017

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the region of Catatumbo was hit by the arrival of the AUC paramilitaries. An infamous massacre was carried out in 1999 where 35 people were killed as the paramilitaries set up a centre of operation in the village of La Gabarra. This presence is once again making itself felt in the region.

Two headlines have hit the Colombian press over the last week as a result of this resurgent paramilitary presence. The first was when the arrival of the FARC guerrillas together with members of the monitoring group which includes the UN was delayed as a result of the presence of armed groups.

One of the members of the armed group was reported to tell a member of the community that they could get on with their work without problem but that “those who don’t walk with us will die”.

The second issue which brought the reality of the paramilitary presence in the region to the attention of the nation was the displacement of roughly 300 people who saw themselves with no choice but to flee across the border into Venezuela. There had been numerous sightings of paramilitaries and the fear of the past is not something the local population are taking lightly.

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