A group of former AUC paramilitaries seek to form a political party comprised of ex-combatants of the paramilitary umbrella group, according to local media.
The party, which would be called “Aucpaz,” (Alliance of Colombian Unity for Peace) will attempt to bring ex-combatants of paramilitary groups into the public scene, and connect them to participation in various projects, according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador. The paramilitaries also seek to have a platform by which ex-paramilitaries can voice grievances or concerns.
Jaime Oviedo Avila, an ex-combatant and spokesperson for the Cacique Nutibara bloc of the AUC, was quoted in the Medellin-based El Colombiano newspaper as saying, “In every peace negotiation between the state and sectors of society at arms, there is a point to negotiate political participation.”
He also stated that the party would, “welcome new proposals by demobilized paramilitaries in search of a true reintegration process and peace.”
The group is seeking the support of the Colombian government, however barriers could be formed because of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court’s rulings that many of the AUC’s crimes were not done “in the name of politics.” This means they would be barred from political participation.
With the recent announcement that paramilitary leaders who have served their negotiated 8-year sentence will be released, it is likely that many will look to this party as a means of political power.
The original organization, the AUC was formed by vigilante anti-guerrilla groups and defectors of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, leaving a trail of death and terror in its wake with its estimated 30,000 fighters. The group operated officially from 1997-2006.
FACT SHEET: AUC
The AUC was labelled a terrorist organization by several members of the international community including the United States and the European Union. It was known for its extensive drug trafficking as well as massive violations of human rights.
The end of the AUC came under a peace negotiation between ex-President Alvaro Uribe called “Justice and Peace” in 2005-2006. As part of the process, the law of Justice and Peace was ratified in order to provide procedural and judicial benefits, including a maximum prison sentence of eight years and exemption from extradition to the U.S., to AUC members in exchange for their demobilization and cooperation.
Other groups soon formed out of the AUC to protect the already-established drug trafficking routes creating several “neo-paramilitary” or BACRIM (Criminal bands) groups.