The Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), the country’s largest paramilitary successor group said over the weekend they will not intervene in areas where FARC guerrillas plan to be demobilizing and disarming.
The group, also known as Los Urabeños and Clan del Golfo, released a statement in which they said they would not attack the 23 areas designated for the pending demobilization and disarmament of the country’s longest-living guerrilla group.
Over the years, the group has been engaged in fighting with the FARC in areas where both groups have an interest in criminal activity like drug trafficking and illegal mining.
However, according to the AGC, “we need to give the opportunity to peace so it will be able to hold, taking the necessary steps for its consolidation.”
The AGC praised the recently closed ceasefire and demobilization deal between the FARC and the government, claiming that “this way they begin to draw a clear road map that will materialize the reached agreements and will allow the dismantling of the armed structure of the FARC.”
However, at the same time the group is one of Colombia’s primary human rights violators, combining their drug trafficking business with political killings of rights activists and leftist leaders.
Analysts have long flagged the group as the main threat to peace with the FARC, fearing the neo-paramilitaries could use the FARC’s demobilization to attack their traditional rivals.
The AGC and the Libertadores de Vichada are the two paramilitary successor groups high up the military’s hit list. Both groups, together with a dissident faction of the demobilized EPL guerrilla group, are the only groups that fear air strikes without formally being designated a terrorist group.
The ELN, Colombia’s second largest leftist rebel group after the FARC, can also be bombed but is formally considered a terrorist organization.