The number of direct human rights complaints against Colombian military personnel has dropped slightly in recent years, and the Government of Colombia has adopted a policy of combating right wing paramilitary groups. Yet there continues to be evidence that, at a minimum, mid-level Colombian officers do often continue to look the other way in the face of paramilitary activities. Most paramilitary and self-defence groups formed because “the government still does not guarantee life, honour, and property in rural areas of Colombia.
” (Kline 1999:152). However, their recent activities have been strongly condemned by the international community, and they have been increasingly viewed as not much different from guerrillas. “Many of these groups, some of which originated as officially sanctioned self-defence groups, have become private armies for drug barons or landowners who, with assistance on occasions from British ,Israeli and German mercenaries, established training camps”(CIIR 1992:20) .
The paramilitaries can be said to have worse human right records than the actually military. It is believed that they have been responsible for most of the violations committed in Colombia, especially against the countries civilian population According to the Centre for International Policy in Washington, “The paramilitaries are responsible for about 75 percent of all politically motivated killings and the vast majority of forced displacements in Colombia” http://www. cnn. com/interactive/specials/0008/organization.
profiles/auc. html ) It is evident that the paramilitary groups in Colombia may pose a central threat to democracy and progress . Over the past half century, paramilitary groups have targeted their attacks on civilians who promote political reform and public participation in Colombian politics and on those institutions trying to encourage democracy, transparency, and human rights. The presence of guerrilla organisations has had adverse effect on a legitimate democracy in Colombia During the 1960s, an important guerrilla emerged.
The FARC was primarily a group of peasants from the coffee-growing parts of Colombia who were protesting to force land reform on behalf of poor people. Under the leadership of Manuel Marulanda, the FARC began to fight back using violence throughout the country. The appearance of other guerrilla groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) followed this action. Collectively, these peasant guerrilla groups issued an agrarian (land) reform program to create fairness in distribution of land away from the elite.
This plan was met with great political and military resistance from the government that was being pressured by wealthy Colombians and outside corporate group by the name of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) began to interests to defeat land reform. “The rise of paramilitary in the 1990’s simply confirmed their view that the elite were not to be trusted and strengthened the position of military hardliners within the guerrillas”(Pearce 2003: 48). This set the stage for the current conflict which is causing problems for democracy in Colombia.
This has lead to a number of human rights violations which has left the country unstable for long period of time. “The main source of income for these insurgents may come from kidnapping and drug trade. Some times the guerrillas kidnap politicians or diplomats for propaganda purposes, but in the vast majority of cases the motives is purely monetary”(Pearce 2003: 48). This was seen to be the second- largest source of income for the guerrillas. The guerrilla groups began to receive funds from drug cartels, which provided the movement with arms and money.
In exchange for the support, the guerrillas movement would cease hostilities against the drug cartels and protects facilities for the production and commerce of drugs and giving assistance to mobilise the transport of drugs. It is also generally believed that some subgroups of FARC actually produced and sold drugs. As result of these developments, it led to loss of support for their involvement with the drug trade and paid no attention to the civilian population.
Colombia’s failure to maintain a stable democracy may be seen as a product of political exclusion and socio-economic injustice which, may as result created the hatred for it government by the guerrillas. The emergence of guerrillas movements has changed the face of how the democracy is portrayed in Colombia. This may be classed as one of the problem why democracy fails to be legitimate in this country because there are constant battles between the government and these peasant groups. The trade of illegal drugs most importantly, is one of the major threats that has fuelled the breakdown of public order in Colombia.
The drug cartels are responsible for corrupting national, political, economic systems and degradation of society. These cartels have managed to infiltrate themselves into different spheres of society in Colombia comprising peasants, chemists, various kind of suppliers, buyers and sellers, pilots, lawyers, financial and tax advisers(banks), enforcers, bodyguards and smugglers who help to launder profits. “From city councilmen in the smallest pueblos right through the national campaigns of congressmen as well as presidential candidates.