An analysis by the think tank Verdad Abierta says that the largest criminal bands in Colombia, including the ERPAC, Rastrojos, Urabeños, Paisas and Aguilas Negras, are the successors to paramilitary rule in many areas.
Verdad Abierta published an executive summary Thursday of who are the main criminal actors in Colombia: the ERPAC, Daniel Barrera, the Rastrojos, the Urabenos, and the Paisas , among other small organizations. Not only have these groups tried to take over the drug trafficking enterprises once controlled by the paramilitaries, but they have continued carrying out massacres and forced displacement.
The Bogota-based think tank does a comparative study of three major reports released throughout 2010 by other NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Indepaz and the National Comission for Reparation and Reconciliation (Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación - CNRR).
All have different estimates of how large are these successor groups. Colombian police put the total number of members at 3,749. HRW estimates there are 10,200; Indepaz, between 7,200 and 12,000.
According to Verdad Abierta, in comparison to 2009 this year saw a higher rate of massacres, homicides, and killings of human rights activists and labor leaders. These political killings are just one of many similarities between these successor gangs and the right-wing deaths squads once commanded by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombian (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC). The AUC officially demobilized in 2006, but many mid-level commanders were recycled back into the criminal world.