Members of the Cacarica community in Colombia’s western state of Chocó have reported increasing activity by paramilitary groups, including the installation of a permanent outpost by the AGC, or “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” (Gaitanists Self-defense Forces of Colombia), between “La Tapa” and “El Limón”.
“It is more and more evident that there is a permanent presence at the Travesías post, a small village. These paramilitary forces now control 65% of the territory, or 15 out of 23 communities at Cacarica”, members of the community told the Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.
Paramilitary forces are recruiting children to act as informers, both adolescent boys and girls, in order to supervise their control over the communities. The informants serve to limit the ability of residents to speak out, fearing reprisals.
Western Colombia has been a hotbed of terrorist activity for decades due to its remote location, thick rainforests and access to both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The area was formerly a FARC stronghold, however with the group’s recent withdraw due to the 2016 Havana Peace Accords, other paramilitary and terrorist groups have seized the opportunity to fill the vacuum.