Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 30, 2011

Is the demobilization program losing steam?

The demobilization of members of illegal armed groups has not been one of President Santos’s pillar projects. Though there are still a significant number who decide to abandon ranks—in the first five months of 2011, 1,064 people demobilized, compared to 713 in the same period in 2010—there is talk, much of it in whispers, about not enough military pressure on the guerrilla in certain regions.

During President Uribe’s mandate, propaganda to lure in the guerrillas to give up arms, on the radio, on billboards and on fliers, was considered succesful. For the last six months, nothing has been invested in propaganda for this purpose. This week, however, the Santos government will launch a new campaign called “We will go get them.”

Columnist Eduardo Pizarro Leongomez recently asked: why have 12 percent of the demobilized recycled themselves into new emerging criminal gangs? There are seven new gangs led by former middle-ranked paramilitaries.

Pizarro Leongomez considers one of the reasons is there is no judicial framework that coincides with political negotiations with the armed groups, which gives the demobilized a sense of being cheated. This will not set a good precedence for future peace talks with any group.

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