Paramilitary Politics: A Colombian Reality

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mario Uribe Escobar, the admiral of Colombia's accessory and baton of the Colombia Democratica political party, appear the abatement of two Aldermanic candidates, Rocío Arias and Eleonora Pineda, from his affair on 2 February for their apparent abutment of paramilitary organizations. His advertisement comes on the appendage of a abolition of a bound bulk of political candidates accepted to be admiring of Colombia's paramilitary organizations.

These two candidates accord to a continued account of politicians that in clandestine will accept to abutting acquaintance with paramilitary chieftains. Arias and Pineda are advised the a lot of accessible faces of a extensive and deep-pocketed accomplishment to access paramilitary political ascendancy on the civic akin through the accessible aldermanic elections to be captivated on Sunday, 12 March.

A abundant smaller, added organized, and affecting accumulation of above paramilitary war lords has emerged. As a group, they began to exercise ability aural the realms of backroom on a borough and accompaniment akin years ago. Their efforts were aboriginal recorded in the 2002 aldermanic elections. In these elections, paramilitary-supported candidates won with over 90 per cent of the vote in abounding cases because there was no action applicant on the admission and voters were afraid to abstain.

Through these able arm tactics, paramilitary organizations accept amorphous to access the bulk of politicians they ascendancy in the Colombian congress. This time around, they attending set to added access that power. If they succeed, they will plan to ban extradition, eradicating their affliction fear, while solidifying their positions of ability above abundant Colombian departments. It is a absoluteness that acutely hinders capitalism and sets Colombia and the arena on a aisle to beneath adherence into the accountable future.

Paramilitary backroom

Colombia's departments, accession from Panama to Venezuela forth the country's arctic coast, accept continued been captivated by paramilitary commanders who act both about and abaft the scenes to ascendancy political candidates on the municipal, gubernatorial, and civic levels. Their abundant handed political access in littoral departments such as Cesar, Guajira, Atlantico, Magdalena, and Cordoba, is a lot of evident, according to German Espejo, an analyst with the Bogota-based Aegis and Capitalism Foundation.

Espejo agrees that the paramilitaries armamentarium and abutment aldermanic elections. "In accession to banking support, it is accessible that the paramilitaries use their access to arrest the campaigns of candidates that do not abutment them," Espejo told ISN Aegis Watch.

Claudia Lopez, Colombian announcer and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) consultant, completed a abstraction appear in December 2005 that took a abutting attending at the circle amid paramilitary ascendancy in Colombia's arctic departments and the indices of barrage victories of political candidates from those areas. Her abstracts appear aberant balloter behaviors in the 2002 Aldermanic elections area areas that had accomplished top levels of paramilitary-related massacres, and appropriately accepted beneath paramilitary control, had produced accustomed political candidates who were adopted with over 90 per cent of votes.

The Colombian circadian El Tiempo has appear that in the paramilitary-dominated administration of Magdalena, mayoral candidates ran accustomed in 14 of the department's 30 municipalities. The addiction for candidates to run afterwards opposition, acceptable with aggrandized percentages of the vote, has been afresh in abundant Colombian departments. The trend, referred to as "paramilitarization", has been accurate in the Colombian columnist and acclaimed on the attic of the Colombian congress.

Alvaro Sierra appear a cavalcade in El Tiempo on 25 September 2004 in which he declared that Colombia was acceptable acquainted of the actuality that "a abundant allocation of civic territory, of the circadian lives of millions of people, of politics, of the economy, and local-government budgets, and an alien bulk of ability and access at the akin of central-government institutions like the congress, is in paramilitary hands".

Colombian Senator Carlos Moreno de Caro, vice-chairman of the Senate's Peace Committee, was accent in the Colombian columnist in March 2005 if he dedicated the a move to accord paramilitaries allowing analysis in the disarmament negotiations, arguing "the affair is, bisected the country is theirs".

Adam Isacson, administrator of programs with the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC, said Senator Moreno de Caro's account was an exaggeration but not a agrarian one.

"Salvatore Mancuso's account that the paramilitaries ascendancy over 30 per cent of the Colombian Assembly was apparently inflated," Isacson said. "But afterwards the accessible elections, it's accessible to be afterpiece to the truth," he told ISN Aegis Watch.

Ineffective pre-election abolition

Relatively few candidates will about accept to their alliances with the paramilitaries, yet abounding will accept such ties in private. This has created a "don't ask, don't tell" bearings that has fabricated it difficult for Admiral Uribe to act on the opposition's claims. Abounding fingers are acicular in accessible but little affirmation substantiates claims.

Paramilitary ascendancy of backroom is a absoluteness that some can abdomen and others cannot. In the advance up to the 12 March elections, abounding action candidates about accepted that Admiral Uribe do something to abolition the lists of political candidates, removing those individuals anticipation to be in abutting cooperation with paramilitary leaders.

A abundant abolition of political candidates doubtable of paramilitary ties was a lot of acceptable on US agent William Wood's apperception if in December 2005 he about stated: "Corrupt balloter practices may action in the elections of 2006, conspicuously by paramilitaries." Uribe told him to stop "meddling" in Colombian affairs.

Weeks later, at a affair in Cordoba on 9 January, Uribe begin himself admirers to a actual acrimonious altercation amid two aldermanic candidates in the paramilitary-controlled department. Each claimed the added to accept fabricated political pacts with paramilitary baton Salvatore Mancuso. Days later, Uribe asked the Colombian advocate accepted to investigate the senators' ties to the paramilitaries.

That aforementioned week, Gina Parody, a Bogota congresswoman, beneath invitations to run as a applicant for one of the two better pro-Uribe political parties, Partido de la U and Cambio Radical. She explained that her accommodation not to run with either affair was based on the actuality that both parties cover candidates "with paramilitary links".

She called Dieb Maloof and Habib Merheg, both active for re-election as candidates of the Partido de la U. Maloof is believed to be an accessory of Jorge 40, baton of the Arctic Bloc, one of the better and a lot of able paramilitary organizations. Merheg has been doubtable of paramilitary ties back 2003. Both were adopted to Assembly in 2002 as associates of the Colombia Viva party, a political alignment anticipation to be abutting to the paramilitaries.

On 18 January, the course of accusations and investigations came to a head. Both Partido de la U and Cambio Radical expelled a absolute of 5 candidates from their ranks. But these candidates were bound captivated by smaller, pro-Uribe political parties, abundant to the disappointment of action candidates who accurate the purges. Even afterwards the actual accessible abatement of Rocío Arias and Eleonora Pineda, both candidates were captivated into smaller, pro-Uribe political organizations.

Power over displacement

What has US agent Wood - and abounding others in Colombia - afraid is not just pre-election ablution and added paramilitarization. The 2006 Aldermanic elections may abode in ability abundant pro-paramilitary politicians to accomplish displacement unlawful.

A law that bans displacement represents a de facto achievement for Colombia's paramilitary organizations. The US has fabricated nine displacement requests for paramilitary leaders. All are allowed to displacement while beneath the aegis of the disarmament process, but currently accept no absolute agreement that they will not be extradited.

Banning displacement is the focus of every paramilitary leader's political ability play.

If the Colombian government were larboard afterwards the negotiating advantage of extradition, the amount of ultimate amends for animal rights atrocities, biologic trafficking, and added bent acts would be larboard in the sole administration of the Colombian amends system, one not accepted to accept abundant success with Colombian abyss in the past. It is a arrangement that would absolutely be manipulated afresh in the approaching and one paramilitary leaders are accommodating to yield on.

Paramilitary access in Colombia's assembly ultimately goes above extradition. It places Colombian organized abomination one footfall afterpiece to the ultimate apparatus to assure itself - ascendancy over the aldermanic process.

With ascendancy over the aldermanic process, accurately adequate paramilitary leaders will accord to massacres and escalated battle with the advocate Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Their positions as bounded warlords will be solidified.

Increases in biologic and gun trafficking are ensured. Exploitation of Colombia's rural poor in the name of authoritative the landed aristocratic chic added affluent and able will grow.

Such a absoluteness concentrates abundance in ability in the easily of a few, base the rest. It would consolidate abounding added years of crisis for both Colombia and the region. And it promises a approaching area aegis - Uribe's bulk one ambition - in Colombia becomes a mirage. Paramilitary "king makers" will aphorism from bounded outposts accidental to a de facto "Balkanization" of the country and a abrasion of accompaniment ascendancy and democracy. If the paramilitaries appear to ascendancy the aldermanic action in the Colombian Congress, a country disqualified by warlords is a absoluteness that may appear to pass, and there is little the Colombian government, or any added government, can do to anticipate it.