Colombian National Army supports health clinic in the Department of Putumayo

Colombian National Army supports health clinic in the Department of Putumayo

By Dialogo
October 20, 2014




The Colombian National Army, which shields the civilian population from terrorism, recently helped protect a large group of people in the Department of Putumayo from disease and dental problems.

In cooperation with other government agencies and an NGO, soldiers helped provide medical treatment and dental care to more than 1,000 people in the municipalities of Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel. The health clinic, with the support of Army soldiers, was conducted by the Administrative Territorial Consolidation Unit (UACT), Ecopetrol and the Alas Foundation during three days in late September.

It took place at the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús hospital, where physicians from several specialties – including general practitioners, internists, pediatricians, dermatologists, orthopedists, gynecologists, and dental hygienists – provided treatment to patients. In addition to providing check-ups and basic treatment, some doctors conducted outpatient surgeries for patients who needed them. These included surgeries for hernias and tubal ligations.

Before the clinic opened, the Alas Foundation identified which patients needed to see which medical specialists.

Soldiers and police provide security


The health clinic took place in an area that is also known as the Amazon plains or lower Putumayo. The region is part of the greater Amazon rain forest reserve, which is home to various ethnic groups, including mestizos, persons of African descent, and indigenous peoples.

Since the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operates in this area, so the military and police took steps to assure the safety of both the patients and the physicians.

Soldiers from the Ninth Special Energy and Roadways Battalion and the Special Psychological Operation Group (GEOS), in coordination with the Colombian National Police (PNC), provided security. Meanwhile, troops from the Twenty-Seventh Forest Brigade, Army Sixth Division, dressed as clowns and entertained children with inflatable dolls.

The presence of high-ranking military officials and representatives from other government institutions “shows once again how committed the participating institutions are to this department, to improve living conditions for residents of lower Putumayo, in addition to reaching out to the people and learning about their circumstances so they can focus institutional efforts on the comprehensive development of these communities,” the Colombian National Army reported. The commander of the Sixth Division, Gen. Gabriel Pinilla Franco, and the commander of the Twenty-Seventh Forest Brigade, Col. Oscar Rey Linares both attended; representatives from the UACT, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ecopetrol and local mayors were also on hand to support the initiative.

The Army’s commitment to the civilian population


Protecting the physicians and patients who participated in the health clinic is part of the Army’s ongoing commitment to protect the civilian population from the FARC and other terrorist groups, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“This type of assistance is part of the military civic doctrine that the Colombian Army has developed over the past several years,” said Jairo Libreros, a security analyst at the External University of Colombia. Colombia has “achieved significant results with (its) operations, transforming municipalities once ravaged by insurgent groups or crime.”

In previous years, the FARC has harassed priests and forced the closing of some churches. FARC operatives have also threatened the parents of some law enforcement officers and forced them to leave the region.

“A sizeable portion of society believes that the Army must be fully involved in security efforts to protect citizens. Since 1999, the armed forces have been seen as the most prestigious institutions in Colombia. The Army wants to maintain this fluid communication with civilian society.”

The Army helps civilians throughout the region


In addition to fighting terrorist groups, the Army helps the civilian population throughout the country in various ways.

For example, for several weeks beginning in late May, the Army Eleventh Brigade participated in an initiative called “Fridays in Color,” a program that offers opportunities for medical treatment, recreation, sports and other activities for children and teenagers in Montería, the capital city of the Department of Córdoba.

On the first day of the program, Colombian soldiers provided services for 250 children from the neighborhood of Furatena, on the south side of Montería.

That day was an occasion for celebration. The Eleventh Brigade’s band played for the children and their parents, while soldiers played with many of the kids. Some of the soldiers performed magic tricks, while others had their faces painted, right alongside the children.

“This program provides opportunities for healthcare, education, recreation, sports and other activities aimed at children and teenagers,” the Army reported.



The Colombian National Army, which shields the civilian population from terrorism, recently helped protect a large group of people in the Department of Putumayo from disease and dental problems.

In cooperation with other government agencies and an NGO, soldiers helped provide medical treatment and dental care to more than 1,000 people in the municipalities of Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel. The health clinic, with the support of Army soldiers, was conducted by the Administrative Territorial Consolidation Unit (UACT), Ecopetrol and the Alas Foundation during three days in late September.

It took place at the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús hospital, where physicians from several specialties – including general practitioners, internists, pediatricians, dermatologists, orthopedists, gynecologists, and dental hygienists – provided treatment to patients. In addition to providing check-ups and basic treatment, some doctors conducted outpatient surgeries for patients who needed them. These included surgeries for hernias and tubal ligations.

Before the clinic opened, the Alas Foundation identified which patients needed to see which medical specialists.

Soldiers and police provide security


The health clinic took place in an area that is also known as the Amazon plains or lower Putumayo. The region is part of the greater Amazon rain forest reserve, which is home to various ethnic groups, including mestizos, persons of African descent, and indigenous peoples.

Since the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operates in this area, so the military and police took steps to assure the safety of both the patients and the physicians.

Soldiers from the Ninth Special Energy and Roadways Battalion and the Special Psychological Operation Group (GEOS), in coordination with the Colombian National Police (PNC), provided security. Meanwhile, troops from the Twenty-Seventh Forest Brigade, Army Sixth Division, dressed as clowns and entertained children with inflatable dolls.

The presence of high-ranking military officials and representatives from other government institutions “shows once again how committed the participating institutions are to this department, to improve living conditions for residents of lower Putumayo, in addition to reaching out to the people and learning about their circumstances so they can focus institutional efforts on the comprehensive development of these communities,” the Colombian National Army reported. The commander of the Sixth Division, Gen. Gabriel Pinilla Franco, and the commander of the Twenty-Seventh Forest Brigade, Col. Oscar Rey Linares both attended; representatives from the UACT, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ecopetrol and local mayors were also on hand to support the initiative.

The Army’s commitment to the civilian population


Protecting the physicians and patients who participated in the health clinic is part of the Army’s ongoing commitment to protect the civilian population from the FARC and other terrorist groups, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“This type of assistance is part of the military civic doctrine that the Colombian Army has developed over the past several years,” said Jairo Libreros, a security analyst at the External University of Colombia. Colombia has “achieved significant results with (its) operations, transforming municipalities once ravaged by insurgent groups or crime.”

In previous years, the FARC has harassed priests and forced the closing of some churches. FARC operatives have also threatened the parents of some law enforcement officers and forced them to leave the region.

“A sizeable portion of society believes that the Army must be fully involved in security efforts to protect citizens. Since 1999, the armed forces have been seen as the most prestigious institutions in Colombia. The Army wants to maintain this fluid communication with civilian society.”

The Army helps civilians throughout the region


In addition to fighting terrorist groups, the Army helps the civilian population throughout the country in various ways.

For example, for several weeks beginning in late May, the Army Eleventh Brigade participated in an initiative called “Fridays in Color,” a program that offers opportunities for medical treatment, recreation, sports and other activities for children and teenagers in Montería, the capital city of the Department of Córdoba.

On the first day of the program, Colombian soldiers provided services for 250 children from the neighborhood of Furatena, on the south side of Montería.

That day was an occasion for celebration. The Eleventh Brigade’s band played for the children and their parents, while soldiers played with many of the kids. Some of the soldiers performed magic tricks, while others had their faces painted, right alongside the children.

“This program provides opportunities for healthcare, education, recreation, sports and other activities aimed at children and teenagers,” the Army reported.
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