First arrests in ‘the most secure’ election in Colombian history

Posted on Mar 9 2014 - 4:43pm by Rico
Juan Carlos Pinzon

The first arrests have been made in conjunction’s with Colombia’s congressional elections, following an earlier statement by the minister of defense Sunday calling this year’s voting process the “most secure” in the country’s history. 

Three unidentified individuals were detained in the southern Colombian state of Amazonas for electoral corruption and trying to influence voters, according to Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.

Pinzon had previously stated that 99.4% of polling stations across the country were being policed by personnel from the national security forces and that additional members of the Air Force had been deployed in high-risk areas.

MORE: Colombia to deploy 260,000 soldiers, police to monitor congressional elections

Given Colombia’s traditional struggles with issues such as voter fraud and intimidation, Pinzon went on to highlight the relatively low number of criminal acts that have been reported in relation to the 2014 elections.

“In 2010, 70 [security] cases were recorded, six of which were against candidates […] and during this election only 11 cases have been recorded, ​​3 of which have been against candidates,” Pinzon said, adding that members of the security forces had defused two explosive devices in the eastern state of Arauca and the central state of Antioquia.

Prior to the elections, it should be noted, independent observers reported a decreased risk of political violence but an increase in the risk of non-violent fraud.

MORE: 300 complaints over fraud in Colombia’s upcoming congress election

In addition to the election arrests, 900 citizens have been apprehended and 257 establishments closed for failing to comply with Colombia’s 36-hour ban on alcohol, enforced throughout election weekend.

The Defense Ministry has created of a hast tag on twitter (#YoVotoSeguro), which may be used by the country’s citizens to report “social order” issues and electoral irregularities. Colombians can also make similar reports to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) NGO, using the #PilasConElVoto or the mobile app of the same name.

MORE: Mobile app allows Colombians to report voting irregularities

So far, only a few instances of significant electoral violence have been reported. In one case, electoral observers in the southeast of the country were allegedly detained by the FARC but ultimately allowed to leave unharmed. In another, also attributed to the FARC, an army unit in the northwest of the country was attacked, in what may be an incident unrelated to the election process.

MORE: 14 election officials allegedly detained by FARC in southwest Colombia 

MORE: FARC accused of election day attack in northwest Colombia 

RCN news has also reported a clash between Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and inhabitants of Tierra Bomba Island — near the Caribbean city of Cartagena — has left four people injured.

The clashes came after demonstrators attempted to prevent voting process as they felt previous governments had ignored their calls to deal with the island’s problematic erosion issue.

The protests, which also left an electoral officer injured, ceased after citizens reached an agreement with the authorities and allowed voting to continue.


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