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    De- or Re-Militarization in Post Peace-Accord Colombia?

    Para la versión en español haz click aquiThis article was originally published by NACLA.

    An agreement between the guerrillas and the Colombian state does not mean the end of militarization in Colombia.

    John Lindsay-Poland and Arlene B. Tickner
    Teams from 17 nations during the opening ceremony of the Fuerzas Comando 2014 competition in Fort Tolemaida, Colombia (Photo from Defense Imagery Management Operations Center)

    Teams from 17 nations during the opening ceremony of the Fuerzas Comando 2014 competition in Fort Tolemaida, Colombia (Photo from Defense Imagery Management Operations Center)

    The following is an adapted version of part of a public webinar discussion held in April 2016 about the militarization in “post-conflict” Colombia. The event was co-sponsored by NACLA, FOR Peace Presence, and the American Friends Service Committee.

    The original March 23 deadline to reach a final peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC has come and gone, although both sides remain confident they will reach a full agreement. Negotiators are now primarily working on issues of demobilization, deciding where guerrilla forces will be concentrated within Colombia, and what the conditions of this concentration will be.

    In addition, on March 30, 2016, Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced that they too were entering formal negotiations with the Colombian government. This is good news, as the armed conflict with both guerrilla armies has produced millions of victims, increased human rights abuses, and created widespread displacement and disruption in the lives of Colombians for decades.

    However, an agreement between the guerrillas and the Colombian state does not mean the end of militarization in Colombia. This reality is already manifesting itself; consider the fact that even as the amount of violent combat has dropped precipitously in the last four years, the number of non-violent Colombian activists who have been targeted, primarily by paramilitary groups, has increased markedly. In a 30-day period between February and March alone, 30 people were assassinated by paramilitaries, including leaders and social activists disproportionally hailing from Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities.


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