The tourist municipality in the south of Cauca’s Valley It faces uncertainties, especially in its rural area, due to micro-trafficking, extortion and crimes against young people.
Mayor Andrés Felipe Ramírez say what Jamundí cannot stand alone and should be integrated into the peace strategy as well as the neighborhoods of the Cauca.
The finding of the corpses of two teenagers in a reedbed, on the outskirts of Jamundíwith signs of beatings and shots to the head, in August of last year, was one of the first signs of what is happening around the municipalityor, 17 kilometers from Cali.
their deaths unleashed rumors linked to the fact that they were wrong to go out with some members of alleged ‘offices’, as they are called gangs that move micro-trafficking, gold extraction and extortion.
Last February another crime occurred that shook the population. A young woman was also found murdered on the outskirts and no one knows why.
Fear in the rural area
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Jamundí, known as the “cholao capital” for the soft drink with ice, fruit and melaos, has an urban area of 50 square kilometers.
It is one of the municipalities in Colombia whose population has grown the most in the last decade, from 96,993 inhabitants in 2005 to nearly 200,000 today.
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This is partly due to the fact that it is a “dormitory city”, that is, due to its proximity to Cali, about 15 minutes by car, many families have moved there and go to the capital to work.
The city has its party zone, which is recognized in the Valley.
The main fear is in its rural territory, of 500 square kilometers, which reaches the Farallones, where it shares borders with Cali and the Naya region of Cauca.
Bands such as the “Clan del Golfo” and “Los Pelusos” move in this area, populated to a large extent by peasants, as well as dissidences from the Farc and the ELN, which extend their networks to Cauca and the Pacific. And in a low voice the presence of the Mexican cartels is mentioned, which would have “emissaries” from the Zetas cartels, Jalisco Nueva Generación and the Sinaloa cartel, which move shipments of cocaine across the Pacific. Added to this is illegal gold mining.
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The Deputy Ombudsman, Luis Andrés Fajardo, assured that transnational structures such as cartels from Mexico or “Tren de Aragua” hire or subcontract local gangs for crimes in the Valley, particularly the control of micro-trafficking in Cali. He clarified that Mexican citizens are not here, but gangs as emissaries.
General José Gualdrón, commander of the Metropolitan Police, responds: “We have not determined that there is participation of foreign criminal actors.”
The mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, points out that “We do not have evidence from the Police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the army of international armed groups controlling the territory in Cali, building a systematic matrix of extortion, etc. However, we are aware of its existence in the country and the actions to avoid it.“.
The truth is that on the outskirts of Jamundí, in the Alto Vélez sector, on the outskirts of Jamundí, there is even fear of doing sports. They remember the crime of a recreational cyclist, in August 2020, who turned out to be Cristian Camilo Vergara, 46, a senior retired from the Army.
Last year there were more than 100 homicides, although the mayor of Jamundí, Andrés Felipe Ramírez, points out that crime fell by 13 percent.
More than half of the victims in this city were young people who do not exceed 30 years of age.
In the relationship, there are known cases of intolerance, fights for crimes and other cases without established motives.
Sebastián Camilo Guzmán, 20, a soccer player for a club in Bogotá, is on that list.
On January 22, he worked temporarily at a potato distributor to get resources and travel to try out for a team in the United States.
A gunman killed him, presumably by mistake. Others speak of intolerance. There is no answer yet.
The Lerma Talentos Colombia Futbol Club NS sports club in Bogotá, to which the soccer player was linked, regretted that violence had taken away a young man dedicated to his passion for sports.
The murder of a father and his daughter shook the Jamundeños on April 24 of last year.
They were Stephania López, 27, and her father Leo López, a merchant.
He went for her on a motorcycle to a gym in Jamundí. So, they went to a condominium where they lived.
In the middle of the entrance, two men on a motorcycle who would have been wearing hoods arrived and shot them.
The merchant López died instantly and his daughter died in a care center.
Authorities arrested a suspect earlier this month. Motives are reviewed about who ordered the criminal attack.
SOS from Mayor to the Government
Mayor Andrés Felipe Ramírez He affirms that Jamundí cannot do it alone and has asked the National Government for a comprehensive commitment “that addresses the social aspect to stop all the conflict in the rural area around illicit crops and all drug trafficking; and to improve the institutional capacities of the Public Force”.
Jamundí cannot alone… It is requested that security plans not only focus on neighboring Cauca and that Jamundí continue to be excluded from the zones of the comprehensive peace strategy
Ramírez believes in peace, but in the face of acts of violence, he has told the government and organizations to deny or accept their responsibilities because in this way one cannot speak of a truce. And he asks that security plans not only focus on neighboring Cauca and that Jamundí continue to be excluded from the zones of the comprehensive peace strategy.
Since April 2018, the Ombudsman’s Office has raised early alerts in several municipalities of the Valley, where the presence of illegal armed groups and situations of illegal economies (smuggling, illegal mining, drop by drop) are evident. For Jamundí, it was recommended, since then, to implement protection measures for leaders and people of ethnic groups.
Last year, in the list of municipalities identified as at risk, due to the permanent or intermittent presence or transit of illegal armed groups, the source of the threat to Jamundí was put with the word ‘Extreme’.
This year they called for help again. In mid-February, Governor Clara Luz Roldán and 40 of the 42 mayors of the Valley signed a declaration in which they called on the Government “to respect the bilateral ceasefire agreement and stop the harassment against the civilian population in our department.” ”.
Extortion in sight
The gangs, in addition to fighting over the micro-trafficking business, also want to live off the ‘vaccines’.
General William Fernando Prieto, commander of the Army’s Third Brigadesays that controls were intensified and asks the community not to be intimidated or attend meetings called by anonymous.
The Secretary of Security of the Valley, Camilo Murciaaffirms that the intimidation could come from criminal groups or organized groups that would try to take advantage of the ceasefire proposed by the government of Gustavo Petro.
The extortions go back a long time, says a leader, who withholds his name. He says that Jamundí has gone through different processes of violence from the capture or murder of drug lords in the cartel era, as well as the guerrillas and the alleged demobilization of the so-called Auc.
Last December, the Army dismantled a banner that read: “Robbery, drug dealers, or extortion of small businesses in this area are not allowed,” in the name of the so-called “Jaime Martínez” front of the Farc. And at dawn on December 21, a car bomb was detonated on the road to the township of Potrerito. That day, a grenade was thrown at a military post in the El Jordán neighborhood.
Coca and mining border.
It is estimated that in Jamundí there are some 1,400 hectares of illicit crops and substitution is surrounded by risks for those who promote it. There is also illegal mining in the area near the Farallones, in places that require up to two days of travel, with routes on foot and on horseback.
The death in June of last year, in an operation, of the dissident commander named mayimbú in Suárez (Cauca) has had an impact on the conflict in this rural area, as since then new leaders have waged a war to dominate the northern Cauca and southern Valle.
This affects municipalities such as Buenos Aires, Santander de Quilichao, Villa Rica, Guachené, among others, and in the south of the Valley, to the Jamundeño corregimientos of San Antonio and Villacolombia.
In the last security council, the Minister of Defense, Iván Velázquez, pointed to dissidents and gangs by assuring that the ceasefire should not be only by fractions, but a complete agreement because, otherwise, the State would not be able to continue this process.
The mayor of Cali, Jorge Iván Ospina, called for more strength such as the High Mountain Battalion, more technologies, a rewards fund and, above all, social investment.
Jamundeños are experiencing stress and, for now, trips to the mountains are limited, as they fear for their lives.
Engineer Jonathan España Urrea, entrepreneur and specialist in global marketing management, left Cali on October 18.
Before embarking on that 40-minute trip, he left a message for an employee: “I’m going to an irrigation area in the upper part of Jamundí.”
In the same email, he noted that he had an average time to return: “I return around 10,” he noted.
But from that moment the trace was lost. In the early hours of Thursday, some people alerted to the presence of a corpse at an entrance to the village of Tinajas.
It was a man wearing a pink plaid shirt, jeans, and black New Balance sneakers. In the town they say that this is not the place where he was murdered, but that his body was left there.
Crime is another one of those shadows of what’s going on here.
MICHEL ROMOLEROUX, CAROLINA BOHÓRQUEZ AND JOSÉ LUIS VALENCIA
EL TIEMPO CORRESPONDENTS
JAMUNDÍ AND POPAYÁN
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