Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 7, 2011

Skepticism around criminal gangs voluntarily disarming

About 5,000 people from the criminal gangs “Los Rastrojos,” “Los Urabeños,” “Los Paisas,” and “Las Águilas Negras,” collectively known as bacrim (bandas criminales), have expressed interest in voluntarily handing in their guns. They will not receive any judicial pardon and will only benefit slightly if they collaborate. So far, they have promised to hand in drug crops and divulge drug trafficking routes. They will face charges of drug trafficking and homicide.

“We are at the door of a very great thing for Colombia,” said the the Bishop of Montería, Julio César Vidal, with whom the gangs have been conversing.

They do not want Colombia to turn into another Mexico,” added Bishop Vidal.

Understandably, there is much skepticism: These gangs operate in 20 of Colombia’s departments and most of the leaders are former paramilitaries who “negotiated” with the Uribe government. In 2010, these thugs displaced more families than the guerrilla, and the increase in massacres is to their credit specially in Córdoba, Cauca and Nariño which was the old paramilitaries’ stomping ground.

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