TUMACO, Colombia – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos launched on Saturday Operation Atlas, an initiative to which the government allocated more than 9,000 police and military personnel to fight crime in the troubled municipality of Tumaco, in the southwest of the country.
“It reorganizes the Public Force, unites units that were scattered and gives power to a task force that will be commanded by a major general and has specific plans to fight crime,” Santos said, after presiding over two meetings with political and social leaders of Tumaco.
This municipality, with the largest amount of coca plantations in Colombia, has been shaken in recent weeks by a violent crackdown in which at least seven coca leaf farmers died and community leader Jose Jair Cortes was assassinated.
Santos assured that the Public Force will attack with “full force” all “the links of drug trafficking” in Tumaco.
“On the one hand the Public Force is very important, and on the other hand, so is comprehensive action, which is social action, the presence of the state to help communities with their daily lives, with their problems, with their needs,” the president added.
He explained that he met with 50 local leaders, including women, victims of the armed conflict and young people, to learn about the difficulties faced by the population of this municipality in the department of Nariño, bordering Ecuador.
“This meeting was very useful and was very illustrative. We listen to the communities on the one hand and on the other hand we inform ourselves of the progress of everything that has been done, because this government has not abandoned Tumaco,” he said.
According to a productive profile of Tumaco prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the support of the government, in this municipality the percentage of people with unsatisfied basic needs stands at 48.7 percent.
Of the municipal population of more than 200,000 people, 16 percent lives in poverty and the quantitative deficit of housing is 12.3 percent, while the qualitative deficit is 76.4 percent.