Governors representing Colombia’s 32 departments took to social media over the weekend, posting on Twitter and other platforms, images of the Colombia’s national shield, accompanied by the words “Libertad y Orden” – Freedom and Order.
Among the first to post was Antioquia’s Aníbal Gaviria. The publication of the nation’s insignia was a direct response to the violence that has gripped the northeast of Antioquia since a miners’ strike was declared almost three weeks ago.
The constant attacks by the illegal armed group against the civilian population, as well as the burning of several inter-municipal buses on Sunday morning, were the definitive actions for the national government of President Gustavo Petro to end the bilateral ceasefire that had been in place since last December. The Gulf Clan was one of five armed groups to participate in the government’s “total peace” security policy. The Marxist National Liberation Army guerrilla – ELN – did not accept a ceasefire with the government during the opening round of peace negotiations in Caracas, Venezuela.
The end of the ceasefire with Colombia’s largest drugs cartel, as well as, uncertain outcome of a second round of talks with ELN, means that more than 50% of the nation’s combatants could be excluded from negotiating a surrender with the Petro government. According to intelligence reports from the Colombian Army, Gulf Clan has an estimated fighting force of 3,350, and ELN, some 3,000.
In an effort to quell the violence in a territory known as the Bajo Cauca, Colombia’s Minister of Defense Iván Velásquez announced that an additional 10,000 troops would be dispatched to this ore-rich region. President Petro announced the end of the ceasefire on social media, stating: “As of this moment there is no ceasefire with the Gulf Clan. The public force must act immediately against the structures of the mafia organization.” The leftist leader then added that “I will not allow them to keep sowing distress and terror in the communities.”
A united response by governors posting the national shield on Twitter hours after Petro ended the ceasefire with Gulf Clan was accompanied by same reaction from politicians. “We believe that authority should always prevail, support for our public force, and that the groups outside the law that do not understand the message of the government will face the legitimate use of force that the Constitution and the Law grant us to always maintain freedom and order,” wrote governor of Meta, Juan Guillermo Zuluaga.
Former President Andrés Pastrana, presidential candidate Federico Gutiérrez; right-wing Senators Miguel Uribe Turbay, Paloma Valencia and María Fernanda Cabal; ex-Mayors Enrique Peñalosa (Bogotá) and Elsa Noguera (Barranquilla); former Defense Minister Diego Molano, all posted the national emblem on their social media feeds.