---------------------------Key Improvements Since 2002---------------------------
¶2. (C) Governor Libardo Simancas said Bolivar isthe biggest department on the north Atlantic coast.GOC presence has always been weak, especially inrural areas, allowing illegal armed groups tooperate freely. Still, its overall security,political, and economic situation has improvedsharply over the last five years. Before 2002, 14of the 44 municipalities in the department had nosecurity presence; residents were unable to travelsafely throughout the department; the FARC and AUCcompeted for control; and kidnappings occurreddaily. Pursuant to President Uribe's democraticsecurity policy, the GOC has now established asecurity presence in every municipality, forcingthe FARC to withdraw to more remote areas. Theparamilitary process and subsequent demobilizationalso reduced violence and illicit activity,boosting economic growth.¶3. (C) Bolivar Prosecutor General's Office(Fiscalia) Sectional Chief Ibet Hernandez saidgreater security encouraged the population toinform authorities about illegal activities.Currently her office receives some 3,000 tips permonth. To tackle common crime, Hernandez said theFiscalia and police are cooperating to ensure thatcriminals are not immediately released due to lackof evidence. This cooperation gives Bolivar one ofthe highest conviction rates in the country.