HomeNewsBriefSize of Colombia's Demobilization Process Opens Questions
BRIEF

Size of Colombia's Demobilization Process Opens Questions

COLOMBIA / 28 SEP 2015 BY ELIJAH STEVENS EN

The large size of Colombia's potential rebel demobilization raises questions about how the government plans to determine who is a guerrilla soldier and who is not.

On September 25, the director of the Colombian Reintegration Agency (known by its Spanish acronym ACR), Joshua Mitrotti, told Caracol Radio that the peace process between the government and guerrilla groups could result in the demobilization of between 20,000 to 30,000 individuals, an estimate three times the reported number of insurgent soldiers.

Mitrotti was interviewed after the recent announcement of the fifth accord in a six-point agenda between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and further news of possible peace talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Mitrotti added that successful demobilization would require all members and supporting forces of the guerrilla structures to disarm and participate in “social, political and economic transition.” But Mitrotti did not clearly define what is meant by support for the guerrilla organizations, or who these supporters are.

Since 2003, according to Mitrotti, the ACR has assisted 48,000 demobilized individuals reenter civil society, most of whom were members of the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), a right-wing proxy army that fought the guerrillas.

But Mitrotti’s estimation outnumbers the reported number of FARC and ELN members three to one. As EFE notes, official calculations suggest that the FARC has between 6,5000 and 8,500 members, while the ELN has between 2,000 and 4,000 members. InSight Crime has similar estimates.

InSight Crime Analysis

The vast difference in estimated soldiers and estimated demobilized members presents Colombians with various post-conflict questions. To begin with, how will the ACR determine who is a soldier or a supporter of the guerrillas?

The demobilized, for instance, may include militias, who perform roles as soldiers and as logistical support for guerrilla groups in mostly urban areas. InSight Crime estimates that there could be as many as 30,000 FARC militia members operating across Colombia.

But other individuals provide purely logistical or material support, including lodging and food, for guerrilla members. Will they be included in the demobilized and receive benefits? Should they be?

SEE MORE: Colombia News and Profiles

Once the ACR has a clear criteria, then it would have to weed out those simply trying to take advantage of the government programs, something that proved difficult when the AUC demobilized. 

Finally, the ACR has to provide enough incentives and strong programs to keep the bulk of the former soldiers from turning to illicit activities. Following the AUC demobilization, groups dubbed 'Bandas criminales,' or BACRIM, emerged in the AUC's place, often drawing from the demobilized paramilitary groups to fill their ranks. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 16 APR 2013

The problem of internal human trafficking in Colombia is worsening, according to the United Nations (UN) and Colombian officials, highlighting…

COLOMBIA / 1 NOV 2010

Emerging Criminal Groups or BACRIM's are overrunning mercury mines in Córdoba and Antioquia, President Juan Manuel Santos announced.

ELN / 14 JUN 2017

Peace negotiations between Colombia's government and the ELN guerrilla group have backtracked once again due to the issue of ongoing…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.