Colombian drug trafficking groups propose ceasefire with new government

Bogotá – Colombia

The Colombian paramilitary group Clan del Golfo and other armed groups have offered a ceasefire to the new government of Gustavo Petro and expressed their desire to start peace talks.

In a letter dated July 19, they called on other criminal organizations to join the ceasefire and seek peace now that a new left-wing government will come to power, which has said it will would strive to end 60 years of armed conflict.

“We cannot be indifferent to the clamor of the Colombian people and the wishes of its democratically elected president in order to achieve the much desired peace in social justice,” reads the letter signed by six illegal armed groups, including the Clan del Golfo, the Caparros and the Rastrojos.

“We are willing to dialogue and reconcile with the goal of stopping the cyclical violence that some of us control,” he said.

New Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva responded to the letter on Thursday, saying the Petro government wanted to seek peace with all illegal groups.

“Of course there will be discussions. Of course there will be. They know that. And I repeat to all the microphones: there will be talks and we will seek total peace,” said Leyva, adding “we will not exclude anyone”.

Although the feared Clan del Golfo became the dominant criminal force in Colombia, a split in its leadership weakened it. Its former leader, Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias Otoniel, was extradited to the United States on May 4 for drug trafficking.​​​​​​​

Usuga, who has pleaded not guilty, was Colombia’s most wanted drug lord before he was captured in October 2021 following a massive military operation. Otoniel shipped “scandalous amounts of cocaine to the United States” while leading the clan from 2003 until his arrest.

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