Gustavo Petro's "total peace": Colombia has experienced an 80% increase in kidnappings since the socialist government took over

An expert explained that the president's strategies could have been catalysts for criminals to intensify their operations in the country.

When Gustavo Petro was sworn in as president of Colombia last year, one of his promises was to achieve "total peace" for the country. However, since the former guerrilla has been in power, the nation has been immersed in increasing violence and a noticeable lack of control in terms of security.

According to a report published by the Financial Times, when comparing the first year of Petro's presidency with the last 12 months of Iván Duque's administration, kidnappings have increased by more than 80% and extortions are up by 27%.

Some experts attribute the alarming increase in violence in Colombia to the armed groups' change of tactics and the president's poor strategies.

Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst for Colombia of the International Crisis Group, explained that Petro's promise of “total peace” has even acted as a catalyst for armed and criminal groups to intensify their operations since the absence of significant military pressure has given them the freedom to rearm and recruit without restrictions.

“Armed and criminal groups escalated operations to consolidate territory to improve their negotiating position before Petro took office. The ceasefires he [Petro] declared in the first half of this year amounted to a tactical gift to these groups. With no army pressing them, they were free to rearm, recruit and resupply,” said the expert.

The lack of territorial control has led to an increase in public distrust. However, despite the criticism and the obvious failure to implement the new policies, Petro remains committed to his vision, insisting that changing course would "pave the way for a new cycle of violence."

Gustavo Petro's disapproval rating

According to the most recent Datexco poll for W Radio, President Gustavo Petro's disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office, reaching 66%.

In addition, the poll addressed the issue of persistent kidnappings by the National Liberation Army (ELN). Fifty-nine percent of respondents believe that, if this situation persists, the government should suspend negotiations.

These results once again underline the population's notable disapproval of Petro's policies and indicate growing public concern over security and negotiation with armed groups.