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Paramilitarism in a Post-Demobilization Context? Insights from the Department of Antioquia in Colombia

Authors:

Sandra Wienand ,

Osnabrück University, DE
About Sandra
Sandra Wienand <sandra.wienand@uni-osnabrueck.de> is researcher and doctoral candidate at the Center for Democracy and Peace Research at Osnabrück University, Germany. She is currently conducting the research project ‘Security Governance by Militias’ with a focus on militia groups in Colombia and Guatemala. Her research interests include the transformation of non-state armed actors, post-conflict violence in Latin America and qualitative research methods. A recent publication is ‘Legacies of Militias in Post-Demobilization Contexts: Tracing ‘Militia Stakeholders’ in Guatemala and Colombia’, S+F Security and Peace, 2015.
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Stiven Tremaria

Osnabrück University, DE
About Stiven
Stiven Tremaria <stiven.tremaria@uni-osnabrueck.de> is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Social Sciences at Osnabrück University, Germany. His research interests focus on the processes of state reform and the restructuring of the public security apparatus in political transition environments. Recent publications include ‘Violent Caracas: Understanding Violence and Homicide in Contemporary Venezuela’, International Journal of Conflict and Violence 10 (1), 2016; and ‘Making policy in hybrid regimes: Police reform in Venezuela under Chávez’, Policy Studies (forthcoming).
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Abstract

Despite efforts employed by the Colombian state to demobilize paramilitary groups and to tackle organized crime structures since 2003, Colombia today remains characterized by a repressive apparatus of social control by paramilitary successor groups in certain sectors of the population. Drawing on information from Colombia’s second-largest city – Medellín – and various rural areas of the Department of Antioquia, this work offers a characterization of the legacies of the paramilitary phenomenon, and its continuities and transformations in relation to one particular paramilitary confederation, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). In many regions, the AUC gained territorial, economic, and social control by managing the illegal drug economy and perpetrating political violence against leftist parties and social organizations. Paramilitaries have thus exerted what we refer to as status quo-oriented violence. As we illustrate for the case of Medellín, mechanisms of territorial, economic, and social control, as well as the particular manifestations of violence related to these mechanisms, have been transferred to paramilitary successor groups. The findings are mainly based on the outcomes of qualitative field research carried out in Medellín in mid-2015. Keywords: Medellín, Department of Antioquia, social, economic, and territorial control, paramilitary successor groups, organized crime, Colombia.

 

Resumen: Paramilitarismo en un contexto post-desmovilización? Perspectivas desde el Departamento de Antioquia en Colombia

A pesar de los esfuerzos desplegados desde el año 2003 por el Estado colombiano para desmovilizar a los grupos paramilitares y hacer frente a las estructuras de crimen organizado, la Colombia de hoy sigue estando caracterizada por la existencia de un aparato represivo de control social ejercido por los grupos sucesores del paramilitarismo sobre ciertos sectores de la población. Partiendo de fuentes informativas procedentes de la segunda ciudad más grande de Colombia – Medellín – y de algunas zonas rurales del Departamento de Antioquia, este trabajo ofrece una caracterización de los legados del fenómeno paramilitar, sus continuidades y transformaciones en relación a una confederación paramilitar en particular, las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). En muchas regiones del país, las AUC lograron establecer un control territorial, económico y social por medio de la gestión de la economía ilegal del narcotráfico y la perpetración de una violencia política contra partidos de izquierda y organizaciones sociales. Así, los paramilitares ejercieron lo que nosotros denominamos una violencia orientada al mantenimiento del status quo. Tal como ilustramos para el caso de la ciudad de Medellín, tales mecanismos de control territorial, económico y social, así como sus manifestaciones particulares de violencia inherentes a dichos dispositivos, han sido transferidos a los grupos sucesores del paramilitarismo. Los hallazgos de este estudio se basan principalmente en los resultados de una investigación de campo de carácter cualitativo llevada a cabo en Medellín a mediados del año 2015. Palabras clave: Medellín, Departamento de Antioquia, control territorial, económico y social, grupos sucesores del paramilitarismo, crimen organizado, Colombia.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.10161
How to Cite: Wienand, S., & Tremaria, S. (2017). Paramilitarism in a Post-Demobilization Context? Insights from the Department of Antioquia in Colombia. ERLACS, (103), 25–50. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.10161
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Published on 24 Feb 2017.
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