Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | February 10, 2011

Kidnappings On the Rise

In his Twitter account, former president Alvaro Uribe expresses worry that the security advances made during his mandate are reversing. He wrote, “Any decrease in security can be dangerous.” “We hope the Armed Forces will not allow the loss of confidence in security.” “We who believe in the Armed Forces applaud their victories and we prefer more in operations and less in declarations.” Uribe was known for publicly lashing out at army officials when he did not see results, and such tweets carry the same tone of reprimand.

Every day, the differences between Uribe and who’d appeared to be his heir, current President Juan Manuel Santos, grow more evident.

A poll released last Monday, February 7, indicates Santos has an approval rating of 86 percent after six months in office. Eight of every ten Colombians approve of the state’s work. According to the poll, 86% of Colombians think Colombia is improving, while 13% think their country is not.

Santos’s push for reparations to victims is to be applauded.

However, President Santos has to remember: Without a foothold on security, it’s hard to adavance on other fronts. According to País Libre, kidnappings surged by 32 percent in 2010. Common delinquents were responsible for 57 percent, the FARC for 23 percent, the ELN for 12 percent, and emerging gangs for 7 percent.

A continued rise in kidnappings will result in a plunge of President Santos’s popularity at the polls.


  1. I think it is important to consider the depth and breadth of the “32 per cent increases in kidnapping in 2010.”

    If this increase is carried out by delinquents, are they long term detentions or short term snatches? Are locals kidnapping their neighbours randomly, or are these kidnaps targeted attacks, holding noted people in society? Are large ransoms monies being paid, and if so how much and by whom? Government, big business, and wealthy individuals? Has there been a correlation between recent kidnap rates and the murder rate? And has there been a geographic change in the kidnap regions?

    I have also read of the supposed decline in security under the new administration, but to effectively measure any difference I would prefer to read a more detailed analysis of crime indicators – that would give greater validity to the statistics offered by the media.


    • Hi Pete:

      Pais Libre —– could answer such questions in some detail. And even then, it’s difficult to have true facts because many do not report their kin as kidnapped for fear of fudging a deal. How much is paid and by whom is traditionally kept “hush.” The sense is quick-taxi-ride-hit-ATM as well as targeted kidnappings are both on the rise.


  2. Thanks Paula, then it is going to be tough to undo this harm, but I wish the best to Colombia

  3. This article needs further analysis of the interesting data it provides, very worth pursuing. I personally think that marvelous Colombia turned into Cocambia with the help of all political (narco) sectors of the (Narco) economy, and the with the tacit support of a pueblo that likes rumba a little bit too much. Still, the polls show that most Colombians support Santos. So my question is: WHO is getting kidnapped and WHO are the kidnappers? It is a crucial question. Are we talking about kidnapping rich hacendados in remote areas, or of “secuestro express” of just about anybody who drives a good car in Bogotá? Has Ingrid Bethancourt expressed anything on this subject? (yes, I know I know that she is not considered non-kosher and a traitor to her class because she did not use her book to condemn the left that kidnapped her). The Colombianos have always been, throughout their history, too worried about keeping up appearances.

    • Good points. My impression is all kinds of folks–hacendados and not–are victims. The “common delinquents” doing the kidnappings these days are gangs of former paramilitaries who “disarmed” during Uribe era.

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