FARC and street gangs displace millions of Colombians
By Dialogo November 05, 2013
Colombia is the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in the world, according to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). Most of the displacement is attributable to organized crime violence and threats, authorities said.
Colombia has 4.9 million displaced people, according to the IDMC report. Violent organized crime groups are responsible for most of the displacement, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). There were 137 mass displacements in Colombia in 2012, which displaced more than 9,000 Colombians, according to the UNHCR.
Displaced by violence
Violence caused by fighting between rival organized crime groups, including street gangs and transnational drug trafficking organizations, is responsible for much of the displacement, according to the UNHCR. Criminal organizations also caused displacement by threatening communities, forcing teenagers and young men to join their groups, and pressuring people to engage in illicit activities, such as illegal mining.
Most of the displacement occurred in the departments of Narino, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Cordoba, and Antioquia, the UNHCR found. But there were increasing levels of displacement in cities as well. For example, some people were forced to leave their neighbourhoods in Medellin and Buenaventura to escape violence between rival gangs.
The amount of land left behind by displaced Colombians could reach 6 million hectares, according to the report “The Risk of Returning Home: Violence and Threats against Displaced People Reclaiming Land in Colombia,” by Human Rights Watch.
Organized crime activities
Much of the displacement has been caused by the aggressiveness of organized crime groups which seek to take over villages and even parts of urban areas in order to further their illegal enterprises, said Daniel Mauricio Rico, a security analyst at the National University of Colombia. While there are other reasons why so many Colombians have been displaced, “power that gives one the control of the land” is the primary reason, Rico said.
The organized crime groups which are responsible for much of the displacement include the Norte del Valle Cartel, a transnational criminal organization that emerged after the breakup of the infamous Cali Cartel; the Urabenos, a violent drug trafficking organization; Los Rastrojos, another transnational criminal organization.
Leftist guerrilla organizations responsible for displacement include the National Liberation Army (ELN), a group which allies itself with Mexican drug cartels and engages in kidnapping and extortion; the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has been fighting the government for five decades; and the Aguilas Negras, a paramilitary group known for drug trafficking and killing and threatening journalists and human rights activists.
Colombian security forces have strengthened their presence in many of the regions where the level of displacement is the highest, such as in the Valle del Cauca and certain sections of Medellin, according to authorities.
Sending security forces to areas where organized crime groups are active should help prevent further displacements, authorities said.
In some regions, security forces are coordinating their efforts with the International Red Cross to provide emergency shelter and food.
Some displacement victims are turning to the country’s judicial system for help. For example, in early 2013, five families who had been displaced by paramilitaries invoked the Law of Victims and Land Restitution Law. The law has been in place since January 2012.
The judge granted the families 8,408 hectares of land which had been taken by paramilitaries.
Under the law, the land will be returned to the victims through the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (Incoder).
Battling organized crime
As they help victims of displacement, Colombian security forces are continuing to battle organized crime.
The Colombian Army Every day, security forces round up more guerrillas.
On Oct. 19, 2013, Colombian Army soldiers captured six FARC rebels, including Freddy Chona Payares, who is known as “Freddy Chiapas.”
Freddy Chiapas is suspected of being the head of security for FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez, who is also known as “Timochenko.”
Army soldiers captured Freddy Chiapas and the other suspects during an operation in Norte de Santander, authorities said. Freddy Chiapas and the other five FARC suspects were allegedly gathering coca paste, which drug traffickers process to produce cocaine.
During the operation, Army soldiers also seized four handguns, 51 rounds of ammunition, eight kilograms of cocaine paste, and several cellphones.
A transnational challenge
The FARC and most other Colombian organized crime groups to not engage in international drug trafficking on their own, security analysts said.
But some of these groups form partnerships with Mexican transnational criminal organizations which traffic drugs on a global scale, said Juan Carlos Garzón Vergara, a security analyst who studies security issues in the Americas.
Some Colombian gangs and paramilitary groups form alliances with the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and Los Zetas, the security analyst said.
“There is evidence that Mexican criminal factions have given financial and logistical support to emerging Colombian gangs competing for control of the business. Such is the case of the role played by the Sinaloa Cartel in the dispute between the Rastrojos and the Urabeños,” Garzón Vergara explained.
It's quite possible that the revolutionary men from decades ago had very fundamental causes that were not satisfied by the government...just as it happens in my community. The situation in this country is a bit confusing, there are no real, firm, serious and completely responsible words, they say that peace is a fact, then they say that they will make peace with abandonment, but not surrender their arms. I ask everyone, if there is abandonment but no surrender, what will happen next??? They will apply the Colombian laws about what happened but no one will pay or answer for it, everybody says I am immune and they can't put me in jail. Colombians, look before getting into something... Better for the unknown... The law must be applied to them as it should.
There are many people infiltrated, the same thing can happen to us. This is all very sad, so many people have to leave everything behind to protect their lives while knowing that the only goal of the FARC is to protect the coca plantations and distribute it all over the world. These governments are so useless and toady. Sixty years of war are the best proof that guerrillas (FARCs, ELN) have a great social foundation. Guerrillas without a social foundations disappear (the case of Che in Bolivia). The army, the police and the paramilitary dedicated themselves to destroying the social foundation of the guerrilla and to initiating the displacement of the peasant population, with two objectives in mind: take away the guerrilla's social foundation and seize the lands occupied by the displaced peasants. We need more news about what's going on in Venezuela since television doesn't communicate anything. Thousands of Venezuelans would be grateful, amen. I completely agree with this comment The "social basis" is not always connected to the guerrillas by conviction or because they see in them a liberating political project. For sixty years, The Colombian guerrillas have also fed off the fear of those sectors that they vowed to represent, especially when they turned their rifles and war strategies against them: against peasants, indigenous people, ethnic groups and the vulnerable civil sectors. There is a need to know the Colombian reality on-site in order to understand, far beyond the ingenuity or the ideology, the drama of the conflict and the unmeasured criminality of its actors; state entities, yes. But also the guerrillas that long ago perverted the whole society and political alternative project. It's a country where crime has become a habit, it's difficult to eradicate it without a strong structured political will free of political nuances. It's obvious that the power struggles between one and the other are instinctive, and they will not stop because everyone wants more power in order to keep ruling. It's necessary that the military forces of the countries involved intervene. This is how journalism should be, one that is beneficial to the nation. It is necessary to work for a safe and healthy environment for all the people affected by these life situations of insurgency, organized crime, paramilitary, gangs; but also that the mafias who process and deal psychotropic substances (drugs that are harmful for the mental health and families) contribute to ceasing or minimizing their illicit activities. Anyways, it is necessary to fully rehabilitate everyone who is participating in these acts that generate conflict and harm in general to life itself. When are you going to catch the "democratic" politicians and the high-rank military officials involved with the mafia and drugs? There is no social foundation, there is an economic foundation sustained by drug trafficking. The FARCs and the ELN have distorted social proclamations, and have turned into kidnappers, extortionists and narcs who filled the country with antipersonnel mines, recruited minors and lost the historical opportunity to fight for the vindication of the Colombian people. The civil population is the main victim of their excesses, such as blowing up the pipelines. Well I like this article, have more projects like this so that there can be peace in all countries. God bless you. Let there be peace in Colombia, but with a significant development in socialism. I can't understand how some leaders in our countries (Colombia -Venezuela-Ecuador) preach about PEACE, keep the population in check, and meet in Cuba to talk (a fox in charge of the hen-house). Cuba is guerrilla number one in Latin America and meanwhile in Colombia they kill, abduct, manage drug trafficking and wash their hands, and the government covers for them. In Venezuela they ask for PEACE talks and they shoot directly at students and the people, and censure information, in Ecuador politicians are pursued and information is restricted, can you talk about PEACE in these circumstances, where the ones guilty of committed crimes go unpunished. It can't be. I am not an expert in Economics and Politics, but in order to put an end to displacing Colombians I think the following have to happen: first, the right wing has to recognize the left-wing politicians, the country belongs to everyone and not to only one political group. This will gain the deserved respect for everyone, the country cannot be happy when the only decisions that rule are those of the minorities. As far as the drugs go, the Government should try to support agriculture, so that farmers become more interested in cultivating food rather than coca leaves, because of the benefits generated by the crops production, with no legal issues. DEATH PENALTY SHOULD BE APPLIED TO ALL THE DRUG LORDS AND ALL THEIR ALLIES, TO THOSE WHO CULTIVATE AND PROCESS THE DRUGS. ALSO THE ELECTRIC CHAIR. Without a commentator... If drug trade is not legalized in some way, the violence generated by the guerrilla, crime and corruption will increase... Miguel This is due to the lousy government led by President Juan Manuel Santos, who has given the terrorists free reign to carry out these crimes. The president is currently fighting for the FARC to get organized into political groups in order to pardon them for the millions of crimes they have committed so that they can freely take over the whole country without receiving any punishment. Under these conditions, in no time this will become a communist country led by the Castro brothers in Cuba, as bad as or worse than Venezuela. This is because any interest by the Colombian narcotics police would make them loose seats, and participation in large businesses and thousands of companies financed by drug trafficking money would suffer. Here in Colombia, the interests of the ordinary people don't concern them and, as a result, we see the daily displacement and extreme poverty of the invisible neighborhoods "where the queen doesn't visit". This explains why the free-trade agreement has a preference for foreign investments from large corporations, even if the peasants die poor without having the chance to cultivate the land that was taken from them or abandoned as a result of the restrictions imposed on them. Where are the international human rights organizations? Another pathetic case is that of the assassinations being committed in the great port of Buenaventura, where residents are murdered and harassed and, if they oppose, are dismembered alive to scare those who refuse to leave. What name can be given to these less-than-human crimes? And all this because they want access to the land in order to expand the port where products that even Colombians have no access to are imported? Please! THE FARC?? IT'S A FARCE THAT THEY ARE INVOLVED IN PEACE TALKS WHILE THEY CONTINUE KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE, PLACING MINES THAT BREAK LEGS, AND NOW THEY WANT TO RULE. THEY ARE DRUG TRAFFICKERS, THE WORST KIND OF SCUM, AND THEY ARE EXPRESSING THEIR OPINIONS ON WHAT IS HAPPENING IN COLOMBIA WHEN THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO ANYTHING. MURDERERS. Corruption is displacing Colombian peasants. The rest is bullshit. IT'S IMPORTANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED, AT LEAST WE ARE NOT IGNORANT, AS MANY VENEZUELANS WHO LIVE WITHOUT SEEING WHAT'S GOING ON IN VENEZUELA "A DICTATORSHIP" This information keeps us up to date with these criminal organizations and allows us to report them. We need to research more and neutralize them. Of course I like it, it's very informative. It's truly sad to see and especially know that the Colombian farmers are being forced at gunpoint to abandon the lands they obtained and got to produce with so much effort. And this is not all, now they have to pay many fees so that the state return the land to them, one does the work and the other enjoys the fruit of labor. An administration with a lot of guts should come to power and put an end to all these scumbags, the way Fujimori did with the Shining Path. It's a universal embarrassment. And those capos form the FARC are trying to seize power with complete impunity. Double embarrassment. The government should eliminate the FARCs. The generalized corruption, the exploitation of workers, the health industry and the strong inequality serve as breeding grounds for these evils. So the FARCs capos are gathered in Cuba with the Castro brothers capos, talking about peace and freedom... You are kidding me. I will see Colombia being ruled by the FARCs, like Venezuela and other Latin American countries. That fake Cuban ideology is dragging a lot of fanatics to these lands. These little right-center-wing governments are a bunch of creeps paying homage to Cuba not to say kissing their...It's a shame that Uribe's work is being destroyed and the only thing they do is suck up to the FARCs and the Cubans. Actually, the guy resembles a Venezuelan, is it that Cuban, Venezuelan and FARCs is the same thing? I would not invest in Colombia because as far as I'm concerned the same catastrophe that occurred in Venezuela will happen here. Work for your people and dedicate some time to the social matters of poor people, give them tools to grow, first-class public education and comprehensive care for families. Then the FARCs won't be able to convince them that they are wonderful. Keep in mind the example of Venezuela, the biggest political scam of the hemisphere. It's the bitter reality that we are living in our beloved and beautiful country, Colombia. These are necessary: 1) Proper legislation 2) Control of the entire community in all matters related to organized crime 3) Technological equipment to move faster and more efficiently than the delinquents. 4) Filter the government officials in all areas and apply exemplary sentences 5) Control of all the weapons in the hands of civilians 6) Permanent advertisement campaigns against drugs and active, preventive participation of all the education departments. There is no doubt that the FARCs will always remain connected with organized crime, since one of the clauses is precisely to stay in the environment that has provided them with a lot of money and power during some of the democratic governments. The freedom movements such as the FARCs cannot be labeled as criminal organizations. In our country we had a war and the FMLN, which started as a guerrilla force, is now the government. Not only the guerrilla but the war itself are responsible for the abandonment of the lands. Those who don't want to be involved in the war or who are too vulnerable leave the conflict zones, it's natural. Colombia has always been a country where drug trafficking has set the rules, just look at the Medellin Cartel, the Cali Cartel, Pablo Escobar, the paramilitary killing young people age and making them look like guerrilla. Conceptions change when the winners are the ones in the government, Mujica in Uruguay was the leader of the Tupamaros, in a government where the oligarch rules the fight of the people and considers it subversive. Falling in the trap of the media that profiles and puts ideas and concepts in the minds of the public is equivalent to not thinking for oneself but be a spokesmen for what the oligarchy wants people to think.- I don't really understand the problem with our brotherly and beloved country, Colombia:
They complain about the FARCs, the PARAMILITARIES, the BACRIN and of everything else which is actually a lot, and all the things that happen to our brothers are regrettable.
But what I don't understand is why, with so much pain caused by the PARAMILITARIES and the BACRIN, they keep voting for them.
Here you have a very clear fact about the drug trafficker listed as No. 82 by the CIA; or better said, the Lord of the Shadows, Alvaro Uribe, who was just appointed Senator, again.
I don't understand it and I may never do, and I suffer for my Colombian brothers. THE GOOD ONES ARE GOOD. I like reading your comments. They are important and I'm interested in them, thanks.
Paola. I think this outlook on the social situation in Colombia is excellent, because not only does it inform but it generates criteria diversity for the benefit of all. This leads me to conclude that there are three possible scenarios for what will happen in Venezuela: A revolutionary government that will continue being deaf and incapable; a military government and an incapable government from the opposition. And adding to it, is the interference and incitement of third parties. From what I can see, this will probably happen, it would be unfortunate because America would catch fire.