I recently saw the movie Twilight, which features an awful plot device. The vampire lead wants a mortal woman as a girlfriend. But, as he explains to her, he’s afraid he won’t be able to stop himself from sucking her blood. At one point, as they’re kissing, he yells at her to stop, or else he won’t be able to control his urge to kill her. In case this isn’t obvious to anyone, this is also how the rape of women by men is often treated in mainstream culture. Helpless men are “provoked” into raping by scantily-clad, disobedient, etc women.
“Stop-me-before-I-kill-again” seems to be the logic the Uribe administration has brought to the “demobilization” of paramilitaries, who have been conclusively linked to a majority of elected leaders in his governing coalition in the para-politica scandal. As the documents linked to and excerpted below show, the Uribe government has mostly absolved paramilitary leaders of responsibility for massacres and assassinations, probably to prevent them from telling all about the activities of their friends in government, and have treated them with kid gloves. This contrasts to the treatment of current and former guerrilla combatants; a clear double standard, as Narco News notes.
The government claims paramilitaries no longer exist, although I’ve met at least two dozen people who have been threatened by paramilitary or, as Corp Arco Iris calls them, “emerging armed groups,” just in the last year. Many activists received death threats by groups like the Aguilas Negras following the March 6, 2008 demonstrations against state and paramilitary violence. It will be useful to watch the response to today’s anniversary protests.
To understand the current state of impunity for paramilitaries, responsible for most threats, assassinations and, many say, the bulk of drug trafficking over the last two decades, it’s critical to know the impact of the Justice and Peace Law passed in 2005, three years after Uribe was elected and promptly signed a ceasefire with the AUC.
Here’s an excerpt from the CIP translation of a report by the director of INDEPAZ, “A Balance in the Red.”
Some of the figures are noteworthy: in three years no one has yet been sentenced; out of 3,431 people being processed for atrocities, only 9 have finished the confessions process. As of yet there is not one single victim who has been able to process his/her demands in a reparation proceeding, and not one peso from the perpetrators has been taken away through judicial sentencing… Out of a total of 3.5 million paramilitary victims, only 147,000 were brave enough to enlist for some kind of compensation. Barely 10,500 of them were able to attend a hearing, without any result, and less than 2,000 have legal representation… The 20 paramilitary heads who have given confessions turned in a paltry US$2 million and 99 farms (75% of the total money belonged to the “Mellizo” [narcotrafficker and sometime paramilitary leader Miguel Ángel Mejía Múnera, captured in May]). This contrasts with the US$5 billion accumulated by the narco-paramilitaries via narcotrafficking operations, the expropriation of more than 1.5 million hectares of land, and the appropriation of public funds in alliance with their “para-politician” partners.
OBLIGATORY US POLICY CONNECTIONS
- Declassified documents show the CIA knew about links between politicians and paramilitaries since at least 1994. 15 years later, Obama’s budget shows $419 million earmarked for Colombia’s military and police.
- The US wants to extradite a top para leader currently cooperating with victims’ lawyers. Last week several Colombian NGOs sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to reconsider: Letter on extradition PDF
Here are a few other links on the “Justice and Peace” / demobilization process.
Cherry-picked excerpts from this comprehensive LAWG report after the jump.
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