The text states that little progress has been made in the implementation of the peace accord with the FARC, and not fully controlling the territories left by the guerrillas has left the inhabitants of Chocó "quite helpless, at the mercy of paramilitary groups, the National Liberation Army (ELN), and other armed actors."
Although the Colombian army and navy conduct operations in the department, these forces "are not sufficient to counteract the actions of groups outside the law. The Army has a network of informants in the civil population, which violates the principle of distinguishing between civilians and combatants, and despite the implementation of infrastructure projects, healthcare activities and social integration, without effective security the civilian population is put at grave risk due to the intensity of the armed conflict in the region."
In the cities of Chocó "the murder rate is above the national average," the leaders wrote. "Illegal armed actors exercise territorial control in extensive areas, they systematically extort the inhabitants, they construct invisible boundaries, they impose schedules on the people's free movement, they restrict access by foreigners, they engage in small time drug dealing, they use adolescents as informants (called bell-ringers) and they very frequently rape minors."
Another aggravating factor is the presence of the Clan del Golfo, a drug-trafficking paramilitary group which continues to fight in the Colombian conflict. Clan del Golfo "occupies and contests ethnic territories" the bishops said, and "is financed by black market mining operations, takes part in the production and distribution of cocaine, [and] extorts and forces people from the communities to be their informants."
In addition, the ELN guerilla group continues their terrorist actions, recruiting "black and indigenous minors," forcing the communities to participate in their meetings and obstructing "their traditional work."
The bishops recalled that "the ELN stormed into a community festival" May 13, killing "José David Hurtado Mosquera in the town of Pogue, a black community in Bojayá township."