Colombian President Denies Negotiating with Criminal Gangs

By Dialogo
June 22, 2011

On 20 June, Colombia denied negotiating with leaders of criminal gangs
responsible for sending cocaine shipments to the United States, by way of Mexico,
and for an increase in violence in several areas of the country on account of the
control of drug-trafficking routes.

U.S. authorities have intensified their efforts in Colombia to combat these
illegal organizations, created by former extreme-right-wing

“It’s not true. The administration, of course, is very interested in bringing
the criminal gangs to justice, that is, a negotiation with the Public Prosecutor’s
Office; if we can do something to facilitate that, we’ll do it very gladly,”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

“But there are no negotiations with those groups; there can’t be any. If they
surrender, great; that strikes me as very good,” the president specified, speaking
to Caracol Radio, denying rumors about talks between his administration and those

The so-called ‘criminal gangs’ filled the spaces left behind by the
extreme-right-wing paramilitary squads that demobilized amid controversial peace
negotiations with the administration of former president Alvaro Uribe.

The gangs also took advantage of the dismantling of the Medellín, Cali, and
Norte del Valle cartels in joint operations by the Colombian and U.S.

These Colombian organizations send tons of cocaine every month to Central
America and Mexico, where a large part of the drugs are purchased by Mexican cartels
that then ship them to the United States.

Colombia is considered the world’s leading producer of cocaine with around
279 metric tons in 2010, according to the United Nations.

Despite progress in the fight against drug trafficking and despite U.S.
support, this activity continues to be a lucrative business in Colombia, moving
millions of dollars and providing financing to leftist guerrillas who have taken up
arms against the state in a conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Since 2000, Colombia has received more than six billion dollars in U.S. aid
for its fight against the leftist guerrillas and the drug traffickers.

According to the National Police, there are currently seven emerging criminal
gangs dedicated to drug trafficking in Colombia, with around 4,100

The government maintains that unlike the paramilitaries, who had a political
and ideological motive for their fight against the country’s guerrillas, the new
groups are dedicated only to drug-trafficking activities.

At this time not only criminal gangs are the reason for insecurity and chaos in our dear country; the FARC, the terrorist group, is devastating Colombia one more time. We’re back to kidnappings, attacks tankers against the civil population, death of country’s soldiers on a daily basis during ambushes, business extortion, etc. The Department of Cauca is being attacked almost daily by these criminals. Dear president Juan Manuel Santos, dear Minister of Defense: God, where is it that you are living? Don’t you know what is going on??????