In a report released last week the Bogota-based Indepaz think tank concluded that newly formed criminal groups is the “main source of violence” in Colombia. Using government data Indepaz found that these groups are estimated at over 13,000 members located in 29 of the country’s 32 departments.
Among these new criminal organizations are groups deemed as “narcoparamilitaries”, offshoots of Colombia’s AUC paramilitary group that was demobilized under previous president Alvaro Uribe. Entities with names like the Black Eagles and Rastrojos lack the political slant of the AUC yet “combine the production and exportation of cocaine with actions of extreme violence.”
The government under current president Juan Manuel Santos has reignited the military offensive against the resurgent rebels. Yet an article in The Economist recently noted that such a strategy could be shortsighted:
Mr Santos promptly vowed to “intensify the offensive” against the FARC. But such plans may require diverting resources from other security priorities, such as soaring urban crime. That is attributed primarily to fighting for control of retail drug sales and extortion rings among gangs, many of which are led by former right-wing paramilitary fighters…By attacking the government, the FARC may inadvertently be strengthening the heirs of the fighters that battled them in the 1990s.Image- The Guardian (“The 'Rastrojos' drug trafficking group.”)
Online Sources- The Guardian, CNN, La Tercera, The Economist