HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Friday, December 08, 2006

Colombian paramilitary warns demobilized fighters may rearm

AFP: A right-wing paramilitary leader warned that demobilized fighters could rearm after peace talks with the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe broke off.

United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) spokesman Ernesto Baez said the group was not calling on former fighters to take up arms, but that the government's plan to reintegrate them into civil society had failed.

"There are 31,000 people wandering around the country who have better aim than a sense of politics, because they have never had a chance to study or work," Baez told radio networks.

"While we are distancing ourselves from any responsibility," he said, "we call on the demobilized to say violence is not the way forward. We are not calling on them to rearm; we just want the country to know the risk that it is running, and warn the government."

Baez and another 58 AUC leaders, detained awaiting trial by special tribunals, called off negotiations on Wednesday, charging Uribe's administration was not keeping its word in the talks.

The AUC, the umbrella group representing the paramilitaries, officially demobilized the last of its 30,000 fighters in April.

Its leaders surrendered after agreeing to prison terms of no more than eight years and no extradition to the United States.

The current crisis erupted Friday when the paramilitary leaders were moved to the Itagui maximum security prison in Antioquia province following reports of a planned breakout.

Uribe has threatened to extradite the paramilitary leaders to the United States on drug trafficking charges if they resume violent activities.

The private armies were organized in the 1980s, ostensibly to protect landholders from leftist guerrillas that were extorting "war taxes". Soon they unleashed a dirty war against civilians suspected of leftist sympathies and, like the leftist guerrillas, entered the drug trade.

While the Uribe administration has engaged the paramilitaries in peace talks, it has failed to negotiate with the 17,000-strong Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's main leftist guerrilla group.

Government peace talks with another leftist rebel group, the 4,500-strong National Liberation Army (ELN), have made little progress.

Washington considers the paramilitaries and the two leftist guerrilla groups terrorist organizations.
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org