Neo-paramilitary group “Los Urabeños” earlier this week claimed responsibility for a 26% drop in homicides in Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, in 2013.
FACT SHEET: Medellin Violence Statistics
According to the blog of urban violence expert Luis Fernando Quijano, head researcher of the Corpades think-tank, the neo-paramilitary group distributed a flyer in the west of Medellin in which they claimed being responsible for the 26,5% drop of homicides the city has seen since 2012.
“Despite what the authorities say, this huge decrease [of homicides] is due to the efforts that the Gaitanista Self Defense Forces of Colombia have made with other social actors of the armed conflict that are present in the city,” the flyer was quoted by Quijano after it was distributed in late November last year.
The Urabeños pamphlet appeared to confirm media reports that affirmed last year that the Urabeños had struck a deal with local crime syndicate “Oficina de Envigado” to suspend a territorial dispute that had been ongoing since 2009.
According to the city government, Medellin’s homicides dropped 26,5% in 2013, after a 25% reduction from 2011 to 2012. In total, 920 people were killed in the city last year.
In contrast to the assertion made by the neo-paramilitaries, the administration of Mayor Anibal Gaviria claimed responsibility for the dropping homicide rate.
According to a municipal press release, “these historical figures of 2013 are the result of joint efforts of the mayor of Medellin with security and justice agencies and the effective collaboration of citizens.”
Diego Herrera, president of regional research group IPC, told Colombia Reports that “the reduction in homicides has almost nothing to do with the government’s policies, and doesn’t tell the whole story anyways.”
“If you look at the city’s history, what you will see are brief periods of calm that coincide with pacts made between the city’s crime bosses,” the researcher said last year.