|Real or pretend? (Photo: Swedish Int'l Coop.)|
Over the past decade mass demobilizations of paramilitary and guerrilla fighters, backed by U.S. funding, provided dramatic evidence of progress towards ending Colombia's half-century-long armed conflict. But now it appears that at least some of those events were staged, designed to obtain political and legal advantages.
That's at least according to recent declarations by ex-paramilitaries and others reported in Colombian media. But ex-President Alvaro Uribe and members of his administration insist that the demobilizations were legit.
|Paramilitary victims (Photo: El Tiempo)|
For the government, naturally, more demobilizations of bad guys made great p.r.
According to the recent declarations, in the best tradition of good theatre, criminal leaders recruited hundreds of young men from Medellin's bad neighborhoods, trained them, gave them rifles to turn in and lined them up as 'desmovilizados.' The leaders got political instead of criminal treatment, the false desmovilizados got things like government stipends and education, and supposedly even their criminal records erased. And reporters got a great show.
Government prosecutors are now investigating the accusations.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours