Bishops warn of rearming of militia groups in Colombia

.- Several Colombian bishops are warning that certain paramilitary groups in the country that in recent years had agreed to disband and turn themselves over to authorities are rearming and getting involved in crime and drug trafficking.

According to the newspaper “El Diario”, the fears were expressed by the bishops during the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia.  “We are very fearful of this grave situation,” conference president Archbishop Luis Castro said.

In the region of Antioquia alone authorities report that 75 demobilized paramilitary soldiers have been murdered and another 88 have been arrested for criminal activity.  In the nearby Valley of Cauca, 227 militants have been linked to criminal groups and to drug trafficking.

Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal of Monteria said the rearming was to be expected, “as the phenomenon has occurred in other countries where demobilization has taken place.”

“Drug trafficking groups are recruiting these demobilized soldiers,” Cesar Vidal said.  “The government must take corrective action.”  Monteria is the capital of the state of Cordoba and is considered the central bastion of the so-called United Self-Defenses of Colombia, the main paramilitary group in the country.

Bishop Jaime Prieto of Barrancabermeja called the situation “troubling” and Bishop Orlando Corrales of Palmira said, “On the outskirts of my city there is concern about this phenomenon.”

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