Paramilitary influence in Colombian politics is strengthening and the
FARC, despite having received some serious blows this year, are
regrouping and ready to continue the war against the State, a report by
an independent Colombian research institute shows.
According to the Nuevo Arco Iris report, the influence of not just paramilitaries, but also that of drug traffickers and organized crime is gaining influence in both Congress and public institutions in Colombia.
“We know their capacity is increasing, we know they are successful, we know that they remain entrenched in the power, we know they have at least ten thousand men in arms and are still a lethal threat to democracy in Colombia,” one of the researchers, Claudia López said.
According to the report, 34 of the current 102 senators and 25 of the 168 members of the House of Representatives are being investigated for links with paramilitaries and drug lords. The researchers conclude both paramilitaries and criminals have more influence in Colombian politics than ever.
The report is highly critical of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s administration, saying the administration’s strategy has been to protect the parapoliticians and to delegitimize the justice system.
“[The Uribe administration] has systematically remained silent or minimized their statements about the evidence of deals between paramilitaries and members of the public force and politicians, not just in electoral matters, but also in crimes against humanity like massacres, murders and massive forced displacement and the theft of land,” the report says.
The report denies the common assumption the FARC is on its last legs.
“The government hoped for a total desertion of the FARC and a Peru-like scenario. This has not happened. The FARC has regrouped and transformed to continue the war,” researcher Leon Valencia says.
“They are on the periphery and were evicted from the main production centers. Their financial and military supplies were cut off, but they transformed into a highly mobile guerrillas, a guerrilla group that is making its own weapons, Cano has managed to consolidate his control and is following his own plan,”Valencia adds.