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Demobilization of Paramilitaries in Colombia: Transformation or Transition?

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism Volume: 31 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2008 Pages: 520-540
Douglas Porch; Maria Jose Rasmussen
Date Published
June 2008
21 pages
This article examines the effectiveness of past and current paramilitary demobilization efforts in Columbia.
Historically, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reinsertion (DDR) have provided a useful means to terminate conflicts. However, DDR in Columbia has proven to be neither a smooth, nor a durable process. Since being elected into office in 2002, Columbian President Alvaro Uribe has vigorously pursued a demobilization program, both individual and collective in its efforts to terminate paramilitary groups. Yet, indications are that, like its predecessors, the current round of demobilization, although touted as highly successful, is merely reshaping the Colombian conflict. Evidence is growing that this latest round of Columbian DDR is merely transitioning, rather than terminating, violence in Columbia, transitioning from a legacy of endemic civil wars and perpetual terrorism to criminal entities. To support this argument, the first section of this article reviews previous attempts at DDR in Columbia in the 1980s and 1990s. It then describes the ongoing DDR process under President Uribe involving collective (process of negotiation) and individual (absence of negotiation) demobilizations. 1 table, 100 notes