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Colombian gangs take matters into their own hands amidst the pandemic

Colombian gangs take matters into their own hands amidst the pandemic

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  • Instead of the government, armed militia is enforcing a martial law-like lockdown.
  • In Putomayo and Tumaco, if they complain against these measures, they will get killed.

Colombia now is one of the countries that is suffering because of the COVID-19 virus. It has more than 7,000 people dead and at least 205,000 confirmed cases. The remaining people that are not sick have to face another scare; illegal gangs. These Colombian cartels took it upon themselves to enforce a strict lockdown procedure.

When one hears about “strict” lockdown procedures, either they are happy or scared. Happy because it can curb the pandemic. Scared because they will lose their civil liberties. Here at Tumaco and Putomayo, the people living here not only lost their civil liberties. It appears that they lost their freedom altogether.

The Human Rights Watch reported nine deaths connected to lockdown violence. According to reports, these people did not follow procedure which caused their deaths. These gangs demand obedience or else, they will kill people that don’t follow their rules.

According to reports, these people did not follow procedure which caused their deaths.

It is unknown what these gangs’ motives are. At first glance, they are doing their part in stopping the spread of the virus. But their methods are downright heinous. They are trying to instill fear in the already scared populace. This takes dictatorship to a whole new level.

The people in these lands are in desperate need of help. Not only to stop the spread of the virus but also to drive away these gangs before it’s too late. They have yet to hear from the Colombian government. For now, they have to follow these gangs’ rules to avoid bloodshed.

One of their victims is Edison Leon. He is a community leader situated in a Putomayo community. Amidst the hardships felt by the people in his community, Leon decided to take action.

One of their victims is Edison Leon. He is a community leader situated in a Putomayo community.

Last June, he sent a letter to their local authorities detailing the situation in their area. He said in a letter that an armed group dubbed as “La Mafia” is terrorizing their people. This group ordered the people to create a health checkpoint in the region. In a matter of days, the people discovered the death of their leader.

This is only one of the incidents that happened in the region. Another report stated that these armed militias closed the transport between villages. They also forbid entry to people suspected of having COVID-19. These people have no choice; either they leave or die.

The city of Tumaco also has its fair share of violence led by these militias. The city is a fishing port where people earn their living through fishing. The gangs forbade these people from fishing and if they disobey, they die. In Colombia, Tumaco is a very dangerous place because of the number of gangs in the area.

A 5 pm curfew was also ordered by the militia so people have to stay indoors before that time. It is even stricter than the government-imposed curfew in the area. The people can’t even leave their homes even for legitimate reasons if it’s already after 5 pm. If they disobey, they could get killed.

A 5 pm curfew was also ordered by the militia so people have to stay indoors before that time.

Activists and various human rights groups keep an eye on the situation in these areas. The danger of these groups taking over these areas is possible. They also might take control of the country’s political situation.

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