The Problem Of Violence In Colombia History Essay

The job of “ parainstitutional ” force in Colombia is a consequence of a historic drawn-out failure in the state ‘s political procedure.[ 1 ]Colombia ‘s failed political procedure established a link of political force and an effectual oligopoly of sovereignty[ 2 ]between the leftist guerilla groups, drug trusts, rightist paramilitaries and the Colombian Government.[ 3 ]The paramilitaries began as rightist self-defense groups with the aim of countering the leftist guerilla groups. The paramilitaries have since established a complex confederation with the drug trusts and facets of the Colombian Government. As a consequence of these confederations, an expensive demobilization plan has efficaciously failed and smaller replacement paramilitary groups have been established. The length of service of Colombia ‘s paramilitary job is a consequence of Colombia ‘s long history of force and the connexion between the paramilitary groups, drug trusts and Colombian Government. This is in contrast to Peru ‘s paramilitaries that were formed for the specific aim of countering SHINING PATH and so disbanded. The link between Colombia ‘s paramilitaries, drug trusts and guerilla groups and the porous boundary lines in the part means that a regional solution that engages in civil, economic and military action is required to successfully demobilize Colombia ‘s paramilitaries.


The aim of this paper is to 1 ) outline the job of parainstitutional force in Colombia, 2 ) compare the parainstitutional force in Colombia to the parainstitutional force in Peru, 3 ) evaluate Colombia ‘s scheme of demobilizing paramilitary groups, and 4 ) make recommendations for future paramilitary demobilization schemes in Colombia. In order to accomplish this, this paper will be divided into three parts. Part One will present parainstitutional force in the context of Colombia and outline Colombia ‘s link of political force. Part two will sketch Colombia ‘s job of parainstitutional force and compare it with the parainstitutional force in Peru.[ 4 ]Part Three will analyze the Colombian Government ‘s current scheme to demobilize paramilitary groups and do recommendations with regard to future demobilization of paramilitary groups in Colombia.

Part One – Introduction & A ; Context

This subdivision of the paper will specify parainstitutions, outline Colombia ‘s history of force and analyze Colombia ‘s strategic importance.[ 5 ]This subdivision of the paper will therefore set up the foundation for the analysis of parainstitutional force in Colombia and the Colombian Government ‘s demobilization scheme. This portion of the paper will besides function as the bases upon which recommendations for future demobilization schemes will be made.


In the specific context of Colombia, Parainstitutions are defined as “ a series of mechanisms of societal ordinance and struggle declaration that do non trust on formal constitutional or legal agencies, but are governed by informal agreements and ad hoc mechanisms. ”[ 6 ]There are basically two types of parainstitutions – paramilitaries and warlords.[ 7 ]Paramilitaries are “ those private and/or province affiliated administrations that use force and bullying to aim and/or eliminate groups and persons seen as revolutionist of the societal, political and economic order. ”[ 8 ]Warlords in contrast are defined as “ those prepared and able, by force or its menace, to deny ideological and operational infinite to a province and who put frontward, to the populations under their control, an articulated option to citizenship and who secure commitment through a combination of that force and articulation, allied sometimes with personal appeal or claims to certain lineages more obliging to their disciples than association to a province. ”[ 9 ]

Colombia: Strategic Importance & A ; Nexus of Political Violence

Colombia is strategically located at the top of South America and has a diverse natural resource base including crude oil, gas, Fe ore, coal and the 4th largest supply of oil.[ 10 ]These benefits have traditionally merely been felt by a few people in the state – the remainder agony from poorness and a societal crisis.[ 11 ]To counter this inequality, a figure of leftist guerilla groups formed and resorted to violence in an effort to convey about a alteration in the societal order.[ 12 ]The Colombian authorities was unable to supply local communities with security against these groups and so the communities formed a figure of rightist self-defense paramilitary groups.[ 13 ]These paramilitary groups engaged in struggle with the guerilla groups puting the seeds for a drawn-out period of struggle that continues today.[ 14 ]The guerilla groups and the paramilitary groups shortly developed a complex relationship with Colombia ‘s booming narcotics industry.[ 15 ]The historic violent activities of these non-state histrions have farther exacerbated the Colombia ‘s societal jobs[ 16 ]and trapped the state in a rhythm of “ merely partially contained force ” .[ 17 ]Colombia ‘s porous boundary lines and link between the guerillas, paramilitaries and narcotics industry means that Colombia ‘s paramilitary job is a regional job with regional effects that requires a co-ordinated and sustained regional solution.[ 18 ]

Part Two – Paramilitaries in Colombia and Peru

This portion of the paper will sketch the job of paramilitary force in Colombia. Specifically this will affect analyzing 1 ) the development and aims of Colombia ‘s paramilitaries, 2 ) the motive for persons to fall in Colombia ‘s paramilitaries, 3 ) the support and support received by Colombia ‘s paramilitaries, 4 ) the Colombian paramilitaries marks, 5 ) the links between Colombia ‘s paramilitaries and the Colombian Government, and 6 ) the Colombian Governments response to the paramilitaries. This portion of the paper will so compare the paramilitaries in Colombia to their opposite number in Peru.[ 19 ]

Development and Aims

The development of Colombia ‘s left-of-center guerillas and the inability of the Colombian authorities to vouch security resulted in the outgrowth of the paramilitary groups. The paramilitary groups hence developed in resistance to the guerillas and as a means to supply security to communities. The paramilitaries basically developed from self-help and rightist groups. These groups consisted of Conservative peasant communities who were trying to protect their vicinities from the guerillas. The paramilitary groups were frequently aided by the Colombian Government[ 20 ], local political heads, constabularies and the Colombian Army.[ 21 ]Although the original purpose of the paramilitary groups was to counter the menace from the left-of-center guerilla and protect land and communities, the paramilitaries frequently used the same techniques and methods as the guerillas.[ 22 ]

The largest and most outstanding paramilitary group was[ 23 ]the United Self-Defence Force of Colombia ( AUC ) which in 2002 had between 12,000 and 15,000 members.[ 24 ]The AUC branded themselves as being the defenders of Colombian sovereignty and as representative of the desire of “ true Colombians ” .[ 25 ]In contrast to this image portrayed, the AUC used the same techniques and methods as the left-of-center guerillas and were responsible for legion colzas, deceases and human rights violations.[ 26 ]

Paramilitaries: Motivation to Join

Colombia ‘s paramilitary groups provide a stable beginning of income and a agency of life to persons.[ 27 ]As a consequence of the poorness, societal crisis in Colombia and deficiency of societal development, these persons do non hold any other vial options available to them.[ 28 ]The paramilitary groups pay comparatively good, with some members acquiring every bit much as $ 180 a month.[ 29 ]In add-on to the valuable income offered, the paramilitaries besides have a symbolic attractive force to male young persons.[ 30 ]The male young persons are provided with uniforms, entree to arms and authorization which allows them to go portion of a big unit.[ 31 ]The paramilitaries are hence really attractive to persons, peculiarly immature males.

Paramilitaries: Funding & A ; Support

Colombia ‘s paramilitaries were ab initio funded and supported by Colombia ‘s elect landowners.[ 32 ]The landowners were marks of the left-of-center guerillas and in an effort to forestall harm and guarantee security ; they turned to the paramilitaries and began paying them for protection.[ 33 ]As Colombia ‘s narcotics industry developed, the drug trusts began puting to a great extent in belongings and besides became a marks of the left-of-center guerilla.[ 34 ]They hence joined the landowners and became active protagonists of the paramilitaries in the involvement of protecting their investings.[ 35 ]As Colombia ‘s narcotics industry developed further and became more moneymaking, the paramilitaries became straight involved in the production and supply of drugs in an effort to bring forth increased support.[ 36 ]The paramilitaries began by taxing the production of drugs in countries under their control and subsequently became involved in the existent production and distribution of cocaine.[ 37 ]Paramilitary engagement in Colombia ‘s narcotics industry is now really moneymaking, with some estimations proposing that every bit much as 80 % of their gross originates from the narcotics industry.[ 38 ]

Colombia ‘s valuable resource base and attraction for foreign investing[ 39 ]has drawn over 400 big transnational companies ( MNC ) to the state.[ 40 ]It is estimated that these MNC ‘s contribute to every bit much as 15 % of Colombia ‘s overall gross domestic merchandise.[ 41 ]In an effort to protect their investing, the MNC ‘s have in some instances had to straight the fund the paramilitary groups by paying them big protection rents.[ 42 ]

Paramilitary Targets

In add-on to direct armed struggle with the left-of-center guerilla groups and guerrilla-held district,[ 43 ]the paramilitary groups have besides targeted persons suspected of being guerrilla members, guerilla sympathizers,[ 44 ]labour-union leaders, provincials and human-rights workers.[ 45 ]The Union Patriotica, a political portion formed by former guerilla members was targeted extensively by the paramilitaries and was wholly destroyed[ 46 ]with over 1000 members assassinated.[ 47 ]These persons and groups were targeted because of the suspected links to the left-of-center guerillas and were considered easier marks than the guerrillas themselves who were to a great extent armed.[ 48 ]

Paramilitary: Linkss to Colombian Government

There are claims of a historic “ functional confederation ”[ 49 ]between the Colombian Government and the paramilitaries.[ 50 ]Harmonizing to Human Rights Watch ( HRW ) , the paramilitaries were really integrated into the Colombian Army ‘s conflict scheme, the Colombian Army shared intelligence with the paramilitaries and that the Paramilitaries acquired arms from the Colombian Army.[ 51 ]HRW claims that the confederation on juncture allowed the Colombian Government to actively organize operations with the paramilitaries.[ 52 ]There are besides claims that paramilitary groups consist of off-duty Colombian Army officers and that paramilitary commanding officers are able to travel unrestricted.[ 53 ]

HRW goes farther and claims that the Colombian Paramilitaries are really “ subcontractors of province force ”[ 54 ]and that the paramilitaries are a agency for the Colombian authorities to “ make on the side what can non be done officially ” .[ 55 ]HRW advocates the proposition that by utilizing the paramilitaries, the Colombian can officially deny engagement in any atrociousnesss committed on their behalf while pursing the left-of-center guerilla.[ 56 ]The Colombian Government can therefore fell behind a vial which protects them from international and domestic force per unit area.[ 57 ]The support provided by the Colombian Government to the paramilitaries is arguably one of the chief contributing factors for the length of service of Colombia ‘s paramilitary groups.[ 58 ]In enabling and back uping paramilitary operations, the Colombian Government volitionally diminished their legitimacy and monopoly on sovereignty.[ 59 ]

The current Colombian Government under President Uribe officially denounces the paramilitaries.[ 60 ]Prior to election nevertheless, President Uribe advocated ‘civil defense mechanism units ‘ as a agency to protect local communities.[ 61 ]While President and as portion of a comprehensive ‘democratic security ‘ program to prosecute the left-of-center guerillas, President Uribe has established an 1 million strong provincial intelligence web[ 62 ]and a reserves consisting of 15,000 – 20,000 armed provincial.[ 63 ]

Paramilitaries: Colombian Government Response

After the old ages of back uping the paramilitaries and leting them to germinate, the Colombian Government eventually outlawed them in 1989.[ 64 ]In making this, the Colombian Government allowed the paramilitaries to exceed into the kingdom of warlords.[ 65 ]While the Colombian authorities focused on the guerillas and did non face the paramilitary menace, a legal ambiguity over the paramilitary ‘s position remained and as such there were bounds as to what the paramilitaries were able to make.[ 66 ]The remove of this ambiguity meant that the paramilitaries were able to to the full incorporate with the drug trusts and consolidate their place.[ 67 ]

It was merely in 2003 nevertheless that President Uribe really confronted the paramilitary job and attempted to demobilize them. President Uribe engaged in low-level duologue and peace negotiations[ 68 ]with the paramilitaries which resulted in the demobilization of 13,000 AUC combatants between 2003 and 2006.[ 69 ]This demobilization was monitored by the Organisation of American States from 2004[ 70 ]and the Colombian authorities claimed that as of 2009 “ more than 30,000 individuals went though demobilization ceremonials, pledged to discontinue condemnable activity, and entered reintegration plans offering them developing, work, and stipends ” .[ 71 ]

As portion of the demobilization procedure, the Colombian Government besides introduce the Justice and Peace Law of 2005 which was statute law leting paramilitary members responsible for atrociousnesss and serious offenses to have reduced prison sentences in exchange for holding to demobilize, confess and return illicitly obtained assets.[ 72 ]The principle behind the statute law was to demilitarize all paramilitary battler groups and convey about rapprochement with society.[ 73 ]In order to reintegrate demobilised battlers into society, a particular fund was established for the intent of retraining and resettling combatants upon the completion of the ( to a great extent reduced ) prison sentences.[ 74 ]

Peruvian Paramilitaries

The paramilitaries in Colombia were state-instituted and to an extent province directed.[ 75 ]In contrast, Peru ‘s paramilitaries were organic, in that they arose because an external non-state histrion ( Reflecting Path ) was making a political and economic crisis in the state.[ 76 ]Reflecting Path imposed an ambiance of bullying and panic on Peru ‘s provincial community.[ 77 ]Their actions began to impact the provincial ‘s support and drumhead justness was being applied non merely to brigands and stealers but besides to rummies, alleged homophiles and other groups.[ 78 ]The deteriorating conditions suffered by provincials were blamed on Reflecting Path and hence in response, the Ronda Campesina paramilitary group was established.[ 79 ]

In the same manner that the paramilitaries in Colombia confronted the left-of-center guerilla, the Ronda Campesina confronted Reflecting Way in Peru.[ 80 ]One critical difference nevertheless was that the Ronda Campesina did non have any province support.[ 81 ]As a consequence of this deficiency of support, the Ronda Campesina struggled to obtain resources as arms.[ 82 ]They hence suffered considerable losingss before eventually obtaining some province support and so stamp downing Reflecting Path.[ 83 ]As a consequence of the loss suffered, the deficiency of authorities engagement and the fact that their aim was achieved, the Ronda Campesina demobilised on their ain with small province engagement.[ 84 ]

Part 3 – Analysis of Government Strategy and Recommendations for Future Policy

This portion of the paper will analyze the Colombian Government ‘s scheme for demobilizing paramilitary forces and will do recommendations with regard to future paramilitary demobilization schemes in Colombia.

Paramilitary Demobilisation Strategy: Result

The Colombian Government ‘s demobilization scheme has non been sufficiently successful because new paramilitary groups have been established throughout Colombia and are “ taking up the reins of the condemnable operations that the AUC leading antecedently ran. ”[ 85 ]These new paramilitary groups were established about instantly after the demobilization plan was competed and are now present if at least 24 of the 32 sections in Colombia.[ 86 ]These parts are largely the same as where the AUC were runing and all of the parts have experienced a dramatic rise in the degrees of force.[ 87 ]Out of the 30,000 persons the Colombian Governments claims to hold demobilised, between 4,000 and 10,200 persons are estimated to hold regrouped and the groups are actively enrolling more members.[ 88 ]

The leaders of the replacement groups were mid-level AUC commanding officers who were non to the full demobilised and the groups are hence runing in really similar mode to the AUC. The groups have been involved in “ slaughters, violent deaths, forced supplanting, colza, and extortion. ”[ 89 ]The replacement groups are besides aiming the same persons as the AUC with union-leaders and human rights workers under changeless onslaught.[ 90 ]Victims of AUC atrociousnesss seeking justness are besides being targeted to a great extent and the Colombian Government has non been able to react.[ 91 ]

The replacement groups have maintained the AUC ‘s assets and have attracted support from the same persons who antecedently supported the AUC.[ 92 ]State functionaries, constabularies and security forces are accused of being supportive towards these new paramilitary groups and there are allegations that intelligence is being shared between the Colombian Army and the new paramilitary groups.[ 93 ]The replacement groups are enrolling adolescents and antecedently demobilised members from different and distant parts of the state.[ 94 ]The groups hence appear to be organised at a national degree and besides look to be consolidating.[ 95 ]

Paramilitary Demobilisation Strategy: Analysis[ 96 ]

The Colombian Government ‘s precedence was a fix solution that would theoretically demobilize the AUC and therefore take them from the struggle.[ 97 ]The scheme did non do any allowance for the political and economic construction of the AUC.[ 98 ]The AUC ‘s condemnable web was besides mostly left unaffected because, during the demobilization procedure, the Colombian Government failed to oppugn AUC members about the assets, contacts and protagonists of the AUC.[ 99 ]As such the model and construction of the AUC was readily available for the replacement groups.[ 100 ]

The demobilization procedure itself was non really verified sufficiently.[ 101 ]There was a considerable sum of fraud that took topographic point during the procedure. In some instances, civilians were recruited or forced to present as paramilitaries and went through the demobilization procedure.[ 102 ]As a consequence of this, a big figure of paramilitary members were unbroken active.[ 103 ]A figure of echt paramilitary combatants who went through the demobilization procedure served short prison sentences and upon release were join the replacement groups with the wealth preserved.[ 104 ]

The Colombian Government besides failed to take into history the degree to which local economic systems were going dependant on drug money.[ 105 ]Officials, Judgess, city managers and officers were all bribed utilizing drug money and the paramilitaries played an of import function in the procedure.[ 106 ]It was hence in the involvement of all the persons whose incomes were supplemented with drug money to back up the replacement groups to the AUC.[ 107 ]The Colombian Government besides failed to put sufficiently into constabularies and prosecuting officer units charged with look intoing the replacement groups and their protagonists.[ 108 ]As such there are increasing studies of province agents and public security forces openly digesting and back uping the replacement groups.[ 109 ]

Recommendations: Future Demobilisation Strategy[ 110 ]

Colombian Government

The Colombian Government needs to increase the degrees of support provided to the constabulary and prosecuting officers responsible for look intoing possible protagonists and confederates of the new replacement paramilitary groups.[ 111 ]In peculiar, military officers, constabulary, intelligence officers, politicians, business communities, and fiscal angels suspected of back uping the new paramilitaries should be carefully investigated and prosecuted in an effort to understate the sum of external support available to the group.[ 112 ]At the same clip, the Colombian Government needs to take stairss to farther interrogate demobilised AUC members in an effort to the assets and condemnable webs that are now being used by the replacement groups.[ 113 ]Once these assets and webs are located, the Colombian Government needs to careful insure that the webs are suitably dismantled so that they can non be used in future and can non be re-established easy.[ 114 ]The Colombian Government demands to besides look into and prosecute the mid-level commanding officers from the AUC who have remained active. At the same clip, the assets and land being held illicitly by these persons should be restored to their rightful proprietor in order that 1 ) justness is served and 2 ) the commanding officers can non utilize them for paramilitary activity.[ 115 ]

At the same clip, the Colombian Government needs to desperately develop constabulary and military capableness and battle schemes so that the paramilitaries can be successfully engaged.[ 116 ]A wide societal development plan besides needs to be developed rapidly so that former and prospective paramilitary members really have a feasible option and can take non to go involved with the paramilitaries / narcotics industry. This is of paramount importance because it removes the motive for many to fall in the paramilitary groups. The Colombian Government should besides concentrate on a collaborative regional and international response to the state ‘s narcotics industry. This is of import because Colombia will necessitate aid in covering with the job and until issue is dealt with, the paramilitary job can non be successfully dealt with because of the paramilitary engagement in the narcotics industry.

United States Government

The United States ( US ) should supply Colombia with logistic support for military and police operations.[ 117 ]The US should besides supply the military, constabularies and prosecuting officers with equipment and preparation to enable them to face the paramilitaries on all foreparts and understate their domain of operation.[ 118 ]The preparation provided by the US should concentrate on the existent paramilitaries every bit good as on protagonists and collaborates in an effort to understate the degree of support available to the paramilitary groups.[ 119 ]At the same clip, the US should be modifying the demands attached to its assistance to Colombia.[ 120 ]The assistance should non be focused wholly on a military solution to the narcotics job but should besides include a wide rural development plan and should be made conditional on Colombia guaranting the answerability of province functionaries.

Latin American States

It is really of import that Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela work carefully with Colombia to counter the narcotics industry within the state. The boundary lines within the part are really porous and hence the narcotics industry can travel between states really easy. Therefore a co-ordinated and regional attack demands to be taken to non merely counter but besides contain the job. An effectual regional scheme to battle the narcotics industry will be really good to Colombian attempts to counter the paramilitary job because it will strip the paramilitaries of indispensable support and protagonists.