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Saturday, July 30, 2005
Colombian Paramilitaries Disarm
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:48 pm

Via CNN: Colombian paramilitary disarms

Leaders of a Colombian right-wing paramilitary faction believed to be one of the most heavily involved in drug trafficking demobilized their troops on Saturday and said they wanted to form a political party.

Nearly 700 fighters of the “Southern Liberators” unit of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces, or AUC, turned in their weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, at a ceremony in a resort complex in Tamiango, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of the Colombian capital, Bogota.

The Southern Liberators had allegedly forged alliances in recent times with their leftist rebel enemies and Colombia’s biggest drug cartel to increase joint profits from cocaine smuggling.

Colombian officials say the three-way alliance between the militia, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the Norte del Valle cartel was responsible for 15.1 tons of cocaine worth $400 million (euro330 million) that was seized by police in southwest Colombia in May — the largest haul ever in this South American country.

Interesting, although I am always a tad skeptical as to the long term success of these moves. On the one hand, there have been some key examples of combatants disarming and joining civil society in Colombia (most notably, M-19), but on the other there has been talk about the demobilization of the AUC for years now, and while some groups do appear to have stopped fighting, the paramilitary movement is hardly inert.

The idea that segments of the AUC and the FARC have been working together in drug related activities is fascinating and, if true, underscore that the fight in Colombia is less an ideological insurgency (something it once was) and it now as much organized crime as anything else.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, War on Drugs | |Send TrackBack

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