2022 began with the knowledge of several events that deepened the social, political and public crisis that is being experienced in the department of Arauca. Since last January 2, the date on which heavy fighting took place between illegal armed groups and left at least 27 people dead; This is why both state entities and non-governmental organizations set off their alarms due to the serious situation in this department that borders Venezuela.
Precisely, in addition to portfolios such as the Ministry of Defense and the Ombudsman’s Office, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch do not take their eyes off the magnifying glass that follows these events and what has happened after this escalation that began at the beginning of the year, constantly emitting warning signals through the Division for the Americas of this organization.
One of those voices of concern was issued on Monday morning by Juan Pappier, senior investigator of that HRW Division and who has been in charge of documenting the situation suffered by Arauca for several years. From his Twitter account, he stated that Monitoring tasks continue both in this department and in the neighboring state of Apure (Venezuela).
According to the information gathered, Pappier warns that 30 people have died in violent acts; added to that, they indicate that there are records of approximately 400 cases of internal displacement “and more than 60 people who have arrived in Arauca from the Apure State.”
It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time that this organization has issued an alarm signal about what happened in Arauca. In January 2020, they prepared a report from the territory and through 105 testimonies made to social and community leaders, victims of violence in that area and journalists, and which concluded that two large illegal groups control the population through threats, recruitment forced and homicides: the ELN and the Tenth Front “Martín Villa”, emerged after the demobilization of the extinct FARC by the Peace Agreement.
These structures maintain their hegemony in both Arauca and Apure; Pappier himself even pointed out in dialogue with El Espectador that there is currently an alliance between the National Liberation Army and the 10th Front of the dissidents, which focuses on a “non-confrontational deal” and whose meetings are held in Venezuela.
“What we have learned is that in recent years this relationship has been weakening for different reasons”, The researcher added to that medium, and also specifying that one of those reasons has to do with the control of the drug trafficking business, a fact that is not new, since Arauca joins other regions such as Nariño and Norte de Santander with the presence not only of illicit crops, but also from cocaine processing laboratories.
On the other hand, groups such as the Joel Sierra Foundation issued in the last hours an early warning for the risk run by various community projects in this area, also warning that The headquarters of the Community Company of Aqueduct, Sewerage and Cleaning of Saravena was attacked with explosives, 200 meters from the police cordon in the municipality and without a timely reaction from the uniformed.
“On several occasions this project has been stigmatized and persecuted by the Colombian State. As a consequence, several of its members were murdered in 2003 and 2004, as well as many others were prosecuted, “the NGO details in its communication, also describing that they have been the target of attacks by illegal groups.