Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | May 10, 2011

More thugs wanting an “in” into drug trade

The cycle continues: Thugs want a chunk of the drug trade; the government negotiates and gives political power to one group of thugs, and another group of thugs consequently asks for the same.

The administration of Juan Manuel Santos has acknowledged that the biggest security threat the government faces is the emergence of criminal gangs. There are about seven separate groups, totalling from 4,000 to 10,500 members.

The government’s critics call the bands “neo-paramilitaries.” Human-rights groups suggest these groups are doing what the paramilitaries used to do: murder community activists, indiscriminately massacre dozens or more villagers at a time, and evict families from their land. Their objective is also the same: to control the drug corridors to import the chemicals needed to process the cocaine, and to export the processed cocaine to buyers abroad.

The gangs says they want to negotiate with the government—meaning that they have political aspirations. But the government says they are just a bunch of thugs and there is nothing to negotiate with criminals. That is—likely until the different groups consolidate and then hold enough power to negotiate.

The challenge is: More than 1,000 members of the security forces are under investigation over claims of links to these criminal gangs. Will these tainted security forces then establish themselves as the next generation of thugs?

Read the latest Human Rights Watch report here.

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