Ernesto Ramirez from the university’s law faculty claims that this vulnerability arises because of a lack of support and because the cases of people who have demobilized are not followed closely. Although the state gives them some help, former guerrillas and paramilitaries “believe that it is the state that is harming them.” For this reason they turn their back on the state, he claims.
Nevertheless, Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Frank Pearl, who is responsible for the reintegration of demobilised fighters into society, insists the reinsertion program is successful. He admits that all fighters who demobilize are “vulnerable,” but that with time and education they are less likely to return to illegality. “Nine out of each ten demobilized people have played by the rules of the game. The level of re-offending is only ten per cent,” Pearl told Caracol TV.
In 2002, the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe began negotiating the dismantlement of armed groups. This process, known as “demobilization,” was mainly aimed at paramilitary groups, but also allowed for members of guerrilla groups, such as the FARC and the ELN, to cease operations. The main participant in the process was the AUC paramilitary group, of which 30,000 members surrendered their weapons during the demobilization process.
The Manuela Beltran University study comes after recent reports that almost 2,000 demobilized paramilitaries had received death threats. The threats accompany a drive by criminal organisations to enlist the former fighters.
A report by the OAS cites a study by the Antioquian local government, which estimates that 79% of the 2,704 demobilized paramilitaries surveyed had received a re-recruitment offer. The Colombian High Council for Reintegration estimates that approximately 3,600 demobilized paramilitaries have been re-recruited, a total of 7% of the 52,000 demobilized paramilitaries around Colombia.