There are about 700 Colombian towns and villages that have the presence of illegal groups, according to the third national report on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
The report conducted by the Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation (CNRR) revealed that the FARC had a presence in 166 municipalities while the ELN was in 117. “Los Rastrojos” occupy 166 towns, “Los Urabeños” have 176, “ERPAC” 28, and the “Aguilas Negras” are in 84.
According to NCRR coordinator Alvaro Villarraga, one of the biggest problems of the demobilization process is that reintegration cannot be sustained if there is no policy of peace.
“Reintegration is falling into a vicious cycle if there are no measures that strive to close the conflict,” said the NCRR representative.
Villarraga argued that the legal framework to demobilize the armed groups lacked clarity.
Presidential adviser on the reintegration of combatants into society, Alejandro Eder, said last month that the legal uncertainty surrounding the demobilization process has forced members of illegal groups to hide out because there was no way to guarantee that if they surrendered they wouldn’t face jail time.
Villarraga also noted that illegal armed groups have infiltrated businesses as well as politics with neo-paramilitaries migrating their activities to include illegal mining, smuggling, deforestation and trafficking.
More and more young people continue to be recruited into gangs, often forcibly, along with anyone with an aptitude towards violence, paramilitarism or guerrilla ideals, according to the report.