According to Liberal Party leader Rafael Pardo, the problems authorities are facing in trying to restrain groups like “Los Paisas,” the “Oficina de Envigado,” and “Los Urabeños” are due to the failed demobilization of paramilitary organization AUC, from which these groups emerged.
The demobilization of the AUC and the reintegration of the paramilitary fighters caused the “recycling” of paramilitary groups into what is now called “Bacrim,” short for “bandas criminales” (criminal groups), the Liberal leader told newspaper El Espectador.
“In the previous government they were called paramilitaries and now they are called Bacrim. What is clear is that [Uribe] hid the dimension of the problem. The numbers and acts of violence show this,” said Pardo.
The Liberal leader defended President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera against criticism by the Conservative Party about the ongoing violence. The Conservative Party, a former member of Uribe coalitions, asked Santos to step in and take over responsibilities regarding security issues from his defense minister.
“We hope the government of President Juan Manuel Santos will consolidate this historical legacy that was left by former President Uribe,” Conservative leader Jose Dario Salazar said earlier.
In his response, Pardo expressed his support for the Santos administration “because it is doing something, for the first time, about the issue of armed groups. Let’s be clear that the Justice and Peace law [that oversaw the demobilization of the AUC] was not the appropriate tool to crack down, but to recycle the paramilitaries.”
The Liberal Party was part of the opposition during the two terms of Uribe (2002 – 2010), who mediated the demobilization of the 30,000-strong AUC between 2003 and 2006. Following the extradition of the former leaders of the AUC in 2008, mid-level commanders of the AUC started new groups, partly made up of former paramilitary fighters. Fighting between these factions caused soaring crime rates particularly in the north of Colombia.