(Translated by Emily Schmitz, CSN volunteer translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN volunteer editor.)
Bogotá, January 13
The Attorney General, on the thirteenth of January 2011, revealed 173,183 homicides, 1,597 massacres and 43,467 documented disappearance cases committed by the supposedly dissolved and self-denominated United Self-Defense Forces paramilitary unit (AUC).
The record, which has recorded dates from 2005 to December 1, 2010, has also documented massive forced displacement records reaching 74,990 communities and recruitment rates of 3,557 minors by the AUC paramilitary unit.
According to the report, without exact specifications, ex-members of said paramilitary group have been implicated in 3,527 kidnapping cases, 3,532 cases of extortion, 677 cases of general violence, 68 drug-trafficking cases and 28,167 other criminal cases.
Based on judicial sources, there have been 51,616 confessed paramilitary acts involved in cases with 65,747 related victims; information gathered by the Justice and Peace Law.
These cases of acknowledgment has helped authorities, according to the report, to find 3,037 mass graves, leading to the discovery of 3,678 cadavers, including 1,323 fully identified bodies.
At the same time, investigations and confessions have permitted the establishment of the alleged link between paramilitary forces and 429 politicians, 381 security force members, 155 civil servants and an additional 7,067 people.
The AUC was created in April of 1997 with the ultimate goal of combining multiple extreme right groups operating in the country, sponsored by farmers, land-owners and drug-traffickers.
More than 70% of their income has been provided by drug trafficking and also has been financed through kidnappings and extortions or from multinationals presiding under their control.
Also, they have received collaboration from various members of the army, meanwhile maintaining close ties to Colombian politicians.
Finally, the AUC dissolved in 2006 in a partial and incomplete process during the administration of ex-president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). Despite this, news reports and NGOs and victim associations such as MOVICE argue that many members continue committing crimes from jail and that various armed forces remain active operating under such names as the Black Eagles, The Paisas and The Urabeños, including others.
The “Justice and Peace” law is the legal mark of the “demobilization” that has been reported for families of victims; a lucky prize for victims. In virtue of this law, the maximum sentence for a paramilitary in Colombia is eight years in jail. In December 2010, Iván Laverde, alias “Iguano”, paramilitary commander, was condemned with only eight years and charged with the assassination of more than 4,000 people (confessed assassinations), for various massacres, disappearances and attacks. Iguano’s confessions included having used crematoriums in the disappearance of his victims.
In Colombia, the longest paramilitary jail sentence is only eight years… a lucky prize for services done for the great capital.
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