Cali prepares for Salsa Festival, celebrates first day without a murder in more than 2,900 days

Dec. 21 was a day worth celebrating in Cali, Colombia. As the seventh most dangerous city on the planet prepared for six days of salsa dancing and reckless partying at the annual Salsa Festival, police celebrated a day with no murders.

Oscar Borda

(Photo credit: RubioBuitrago) On Dec. 21, Cali celebrated its first day without a murder in eight years, about 2,900 days. A partial gun ban receives some credit for the day without bloodshed.

It was Cali´s first day without a reported murder since December 2005, some eight years, more than 2,900 consecutive days, each with at least one murder. Police are partly crediting a ban on partial ban on carrying guns during the holiday season and a complete ban for the six-day Salsa Festival known for its wild behaviour.Cali Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero, the Catholic Church and the city ombudsman sought a complete ban, but were overruled by the district military commander who has the final say in such decisions. The military disappointed proponents of a full ban, when he ruled out such a ban in financial districts and wealthier areas of Cali.”I would’ve preferred that during December the restriction would cover all districts, but we’re making progress,” Guerrero in an interview published in Colombia’s online English newspaper Colombia Reports.Cali has had more difficulty curbing homicide rates than Colombia’s two larger cities Bogotá and Medellin, which have seen decreases in homicides in recent years.Despite having its first day without a murder in eight years, the overall trend in Cali is still worsening.From January 1, 2012 Cali suffered 1,773 murders, and in the same period of 2013 there were 1,904.

But on a monthly basis, with the partial ban in place, the trend is improving.

In the first 22 days of December 2012 there were 162 murders. In the first 22 days of December 2013 the number of murders fell to 87, according to statistics published in La Semana, Colombia´s national newsmagazine.

The majority of Cali´s murders are blamed on micro-trafficking of drugs, the competition between rival gangs to control neighbourhood distribution networks and the debt collectors working for the gangs. Many deaths are caused during alcohol-fueled confrontations, especially during the holiday season.

Colombian innocents, including children are also killed every year by persons who cannot understand the risks of firing shots into the air to celebrate Christmas, New Year´s or a simple victory by their soccer team.

Security in Cali is beefed up with thousands of extra police officers and thousands of military officers imported into the city to provide protection during the lucrative Salsa Festival which is the largest annual tourist event in the city.

A recent survey by the United Nations determined Cali was the seventh most dangerous city in the world.

For more information please read in English:

And, in Spanish:


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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Cali prepares for Salsa Festival, celebrates first day without a murder in more than 2,900 days”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    That a day without a murder is good news in Cali says a lot. Sad to see the underlying trend is still up. Your article shows how effective a firearms ban, even a partial one, can be on both deliberate and negligent/careless homicides. Let’s hope that might point to a better direction in the future.

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