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Colombia Cartels Are Killing People Who Disobey COVID-19 Lockdown Measures

Mika Castro

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  • Illegal gangs are taking over lockdown enforcement in cities like Putumayo and Tumaco.
  • In Putumayo, community leader Edison Leon was killed after reporting the group La Mafia to authorities.
  • The cartels are also threatening COVID-positive patients to leave the region, or be killed.
  • In Tumaco, residents are prohibited to even go fishing for food, or to go out to buy supplies.

With 204,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 7,000 deaths, Colombia is one of the countries struggling to contain the highly contagious disease. The situation has gotten much worse because of the presence of illegal Colombian cartels. These cartels and gangs control various cities and areas by killing some civilians.

The Human Rights Watch reported that at least 9 people were already killed because of lockdown disobedience. The aforementioned gangs implement very strict lockdown measures and kills those who complain or disobey the rules. 

One such victim is Edison Leon, a community leader from the region of Putumayo. In June, Leon wrote a letter to the local authorities informing them of the armed group ‘La Mafia’ who is forcing residents to staff a health checkpoint. Days later, he was found dead.

Furthermore, according to an informant in Putumayo, the cartels have shut down transport between villages. When someone is suspected to have Covid-19, they are told to leave the region or they will be killed.

In the city of Tumaco, which is a fishing port area in Colombia, gangs have banned residents from making a living by fishing. Tumaco is also considered one of the most dangerous places in Colombia with the high number of gangs in the place.

Aside from banning fishing, the illegal cartels also force a 5pm curfew to residents, even if government-imposed curfews are not as strict. People can also be harassed and killed if they try to leave their homes even for acceptable reasons such as buying essentials in groceries or pharmacies.

Human rights group and activists are becoming concerned and keeping a close eye on the developments in Colombia as the illegal groups may further take advantage of the pandemic situation to control the political situation in the country.

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