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The use of armed civilians by political parties, local bosses, the government, and the armed forces has a long history in Colombia. A series of clashes between the Liberal and Conservative parties in the 19th century established a pattern that would echo for another century: political differences, economic competition, and personal vendettas that escalate into violence either ignored or actively abetted by the central government.

In this century, La Violencia (1948-1965), the name given to the civil war between Liberals, Conservatives, and the emerging Communist Party, became one of the largest armed mobilizations of peasants in the hemisphere. To end La Violencia, Liberal and Conservative leaders negotiated a power-sharing agreement that lasted from 1958 until 1974. Called the National Front, the agreement established a presidency that would alternate between the Liberal and Conservative parties. 1

However, many Colombians felt shut out by this deal, including the Liberal and Communist guerrillas that had fought during La Violencia. By 1966, when the pro-Cuba Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), which remains Colombia's largest insurgency, was founded, La Violencia had made the transition from civil war to a government campaign against communist guerrillas and their perceived supporters in civil society. The previous year, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) had carried out its first armed action in the department of Santander. 2

By then, the Colombian military had embarked on a new relationship with the U.S. military, eager to confront the communist threat to the south. 3 The Colombian military's readiness to use civilians against a perceived enemy, be they political rivals or guerrilla insurgencies and their suspected supporters, fit what was by the 1960s a well developed U.S. cold war strategy: provide U.S. military support and training to governments battling communist insurgencies and encourage them to make allies of at times unsavory but effective civilian irregulars, be they right wing Greek paramilitaries, Filipino vigilantes, or Nicaraguan contras. For U.S. theorists and practitioners, civilian irregulars were most effective when they included army reservists, retired officers predisposed to a fierce anticommunism, and men familiar with local residents, customs, and terrain. Organized into so-called "self-defense forces," these civilians would be armed and trained by the army and provide troops with intelligence and logistical help, like guides; assist in psychological operations; and even fight alongside regular soldiers. 4

Within the Colombian army, one of the main proponents of engaging the "internal enemy" of communism with these methods was Gen. Alberto Ruiz Novoa, whose cold war experience included a stint as the commander of the Colombia Battalion in Korea from 1952-1953. 5 Colombia was among the first Latin American countries to sign mutual defense agreements with the United States and set up the first counterguerrilla training center in Latin America, called the Lancero School. 6

General Ruiz became army commander in 1960. By 1962, he had brought in U.S. Special Forces to train Colombian officers in cold war counterinsurgency. Colombian officers also began training at U.S. bases. 7 That year, a U.S. Army Special Warfare team visited Colombia to help refine Plan Lazo, a new counterinsurgency strategy General Ruiz was drafting. 8 U.S. advisors proposed that the United States "select civilian and military personnel for clandestine training in resistance operations in case they are needed later." Led by Gen. William P. Yarborough, the team further recommended that this structure "be used to perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and as necessary execute paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents. It should be backed by the United States." 9

Judging by the events that followed, the U.S. recommendations were implemented enthusiastically through Plan Lazo, formally adopted by the Colombian military on July 1, 1962. 10 While the military presented Plan Lazo to the public as a "hearts-and-minds" campaign to win support through public works and campaigns to improve the conditions that they believed fed armed subversion, privately it incorporated the Yarborough team's principal recommendations. Armed civilians - called "civil defense," "self-defense," or "population organization operations," among other terms - were expected to work directly with troops. Although the "hearts-and minds" component of military operations would wax and wane in importance over the next three decades, the central importance of civilians as armed allies would remain. 11

Far from imposing limits on the military and its anticommunist campaign, the administration of President Guillermo León Valencia (1962-1966) essentially turned over to them the problem of what in Colombia continues to be called "public order," a division of labor that persists today. One of the main ways this is done is through the declaration of a "state of siege" (now called a "state of internal commotion"). Colombia has spent thirty-seven of the past forty-seven years either under states of siege or states of internal commotion. 12

During a state of siege, the executive implements decrees that abrogate rights by transferring broad judicial and political powers to the military, with no or restricted civilian oversight. Often, supposedly temporary decrees are subsequently converted into permanent legislation. For instance, Decree 1290, implemented in 1965, sent civilians accused of supporting or belonging to insurgencies to military court martials, where proceedings were secret and key rights were suspended. 13 The military's offensive against the so-called "independent republics" of communist sympathizers in the departments (states) of Tolima and Cauca prompted President Valencia to declare a state of siege in May of 1965. Subsequently, Decree 3398 laid the legal foundation for the active involvement of civilians in the war from 1965 until 1989. Decree 3398 defined the defense of the nation as "the organization and tasking of all of the residents of the country and its natural resources ... to guarantee National Independence and institutional stability," and temporarily legalized the arming by the Defense Ministry of civilians. 14

However, in 1968, Law 48 converted Decree 3398 into permanent legislation. 15 Law 48 authorized the executive to create civil patrols by decree and for the Defense Ministry to provide them with "weapons restricted to the exclusive use of the armed forces." Although few civil patrols were ever formally created by the president, the military frequently cited Law 48 as the legal foundation for their support for all paramilitaries. 16

Since 1968, the Colombian military has published a series of combat manuals that build on the strategy first embodied in Plan Lazo. While some were made available to public scrutiny, others were marked "restricted" and kept virtually secret. 17 In the "Manual of Civil Military Cooperation," for instance, published in 1986 and marked public, army commanders are urged to perform such useful tasks as assessing the adequacy of classrooms and supplies available in local schools. 18

Other manuals, however, contained a more disturbing message. Among the most influential was Regulations for Counterguerrilla Combat (Reglamento de Combate de Contraguerrillas), which includes five U.S. Army Field Manuals and three U.S. Army Special Texts in its bibliography, several of which were focused on the organization of civilian forces. 19 In the Regulations, field commanders are instructed on how to "organize the civilian population militarily so that they may defend themselves against guerrilla actions and assist combat operations." These 11 self-defense committees" (juntas de autodefensa), the Regulations stress, should include individuals specially selected, trained, and equipped by the military and should be deployed as necessary with troops. 20

"This self-defense network," the manual stresses, "is a powerful tool to defend the nation against attacks from outside and within. That is why its control should remain in military hands at all times." For that purpose, the manual states that a single officer be assigned the task of organizing, training, equipping, and deploying self-defense groups. 21

The manual stresses the importance of recruiting reserve officers with proven loyalties and training them and other leaders in "combat technique ... .. tactics of defense in the region," and "psychological indoctrination." Weapons, including those restricted to military use, are to be provided to self-defense groups for "search, control, and destructive operations." According to the manual, the essential mission of self-defense is the "violent rejection of guerrilla actions in their region." 22

Another secret manual instructs field commanders to dress some soldiers in civilian clothes, allowing them "to enter houses as workers, visitors, to carry out special missions." Civic actions are seen not only as ways to win the loyalty of the civilian population, but also to test their reaction to troops. If it is indifferent or negative, those civilians are to be targeted as suspected subversives. When it is necessary to "test" individual civilians, officers are told to "send clandestine agents, who pretend to be carrying out bandit missions or belong to a guerrilla unit and later return with the military patrol." Those who fail the test are put on a "black list." Those whose loyalties remain under suspicion go on the "grey list." According to the manual, both should receive "boleteos" - anonymous, written threats to "frighten them and make them believe that they have been compromised and must abandon the area. 23

The dual publishing track of "public" vs. "uItra- secret" ensures that the armed forces appear to obey strict standards of conduct through public documents while allowing them to continue systematic, covert operations regulated by secret manuals.

By the 1970s, the Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC had gained a political foothold in some areas, including the Middle Magdalena region and the departments of Meta and Cundinamarca. Meanwhile, the FARC grew rapidly, and in some areas adjudicated disputes, oversaw public works, and carried out some police functions. 24

For the military, civic action, like building roads and health clinics, became only one too] to halt the guerrilla advance. Paramilitaries were an integral part of their counterattack on guerrillas as well as what the U.S. Yarborough team identified as "known communist proponents." 25 However, in Colombia, that came to mean both real and suspected guerrilla supporters, including government critics, trade unionists, community organizers, opposition politicians, civic leaders, and human rights activists. Even nonviolent protest-for land, education, human rights, better wages, health care, public services, and clean water - was described in terms of a government battling communist agitators. Social protest, claimed Gen. Luis Carlos Camacho Leyva, defense minister from 1978-1982, was simply "the unarmed branch of subversion." 26

A more elegant version of the same belief was given by Gen. Fernando Landazábal, who served as Defense Minister under President Belisario Betancur (1982-1986). "As important as finding the subversives is finding their political leaders.... There is nothing more harmful for the development of counterrevolutionary operations than to dedicate all efforts to combat and the repression of the enemy's armed forces, leaving untouched the movement's political leaders, free to continue their activities." 27

One of the ways the military sought to control these political leaders was by supporting the authoritarian measures imposed by President Julio César Turbay (1978-1982), among them Decree 1923, called the "Security Statute." Decree 1923 loosely defined new crimes, like "disturbing public order," implemented press censorship, and gave police judicial powers. 28 At the time, some Colombians publicly opposed the Security Statute as a virtual "occupation" of civilian life by the military. As historian Francisco Leal Buitrago has noted, the Security Statute allowed the military "to expand its autonomy in matters of public order to unprecedented levels." 29

Political violence in Colombia took a dramatic turn on December 3, 198 1, when a helicopter flying over the city of Cali dropped leaflets announcing the formation of a new group, Death to Kidnappers (Muerte a Secuestradores, MAS). According to its founders, MAS was set up by 223 drug traffickers to retaliate for the kidnapping by the M-19 of Martha Nieves Ochoa, whose brothers were members of the Medellin Cartel. Some Colombians outside the drug trade shared the traffickers' anger at guerrillas. In the Middle Magdalena region, where people with land or businesses faced increased demands for so-called "war taxes," supplies, and food from the FARC, and were plagued by kidnapping for ransom, the MAS model represented a violent, yet effective means for fighting back. 30

The MAS model was adopted by the Bárbula Battalion, in Santander's Puerto Boyacá, and the town's military mayor, Capt. Oscar de Jesús Echandía. In 1982, Echandía convened a meeting of local people, including local Liberal and Conservative party leaders, businessmen, ranchers, and representatives from the Texas Petroleum Company. They found that their goal went far beyond protecting the population from guerrilla demands. They wanted to "cleanse" (limpiar) the region of subversives. To do so, they agreed to gather guns, clothing, food, and a fund to pay young men to fight. Money came from businessmen and ranchers, while the military committed tactical support. In essence, the army authorized and actively encouraged civilians to pursue and kill suspected guerrillas. Before ending the meeting, they chose a name for their new group: MAS, the same used by drug traffickers. 31

The original goal - to rid the area of guerrillas - quickly expanded to include anyone who opposed MAS, including a Puerto Boyacá council member, a political activist, and a doctor, all members of the progressive wing of the Liberal Party and all of whom were killed. 32 By 1983, MAS was taking part in joint operations with the army. At the time, local peasants reported numerous cases of troops accompanied by MAS members carrying out extrajudicial executions and destroying farms. 33

MAS also received support from the Bomboná Battalion in nearby Puerto Berrío. Among the men trained by Bomboná officers and employed as guides in 1981 were the Castaño brothers, sons of an Antioquia rancher kidnapped and killed by the FARC. The eldest, Fidel, vowed revenge. In the mid-1980s, the Castaños formed the Peasant Self Defense Groups of Córdoba and Urabá (Autodefensas Campesinas de Córdoba y Urabá, ACCU), a paramilitary force in northeastern Antioquia and Córdoba, departments where the family owns land. By the end of the decade, Fidel Castaño, known as "Rambo," was a top paramilitary leader as well as an influential drug trafficker. 34

After authorities registered 240 killings attributed to MAS, newly inaugurated President Belisario Betancur (1982 1986) ordered the Procuraduría, the government agency responsible for investigating reports of abuses by government employees, to open an investigation. 35 On February 20, 1983, Procurador Carlos Jiménez Gómez announced the results. Of the 163 individuals found to have links to MAS, fifty-nine were active duty police and military officers, including the commanders of the Bárbula and Bomboná Battalions. 36 Jiménez described them as "officials who go overboard when faced with the temptation to multiply their ability to act and take advantage of private agents, whom they begin to use as 'guides' and 'informants,' collaborators and assistants in general, and whom they end up using as a hidden weapon so that, with this plan of hired killers, they can do officiously what they cannot do officially." 37

Although Jimenez attempted to launch a broader investigation, the Disciplinary Tribunal, then in charge of resolving some jurisdictional disputes between military tribunals and civilian courts, ruled that the case belonged to the military, which dismissed all charges. At the time, Defense Minister Gen. Fernando Landazábal ordered members of the armed forces to contribute from their salaries to the legal defense of the accused. 38 Influential officers publicly defended paramilitaries by describing them as civilians who were simply defending themselves against guerrillas. None of the officers named were ever charged for their involvement with MAS. 39

The U.S. government's reaction to the report was negligible. The career of Colonel Ramón Emilio Gil Bermudez, commander of the Comando Operativo No. 10, in Cimitarra, department of Santander, serves as a disturbing example. Named in Jimenez's list, Gil was a highly decorated officer sent to Cimitarra in 1981, immediately after completing a training course in "combined strategic intelligence" in Washington, D.C. When the Procuraduría list was published, Gil had returned to Washington as the military attaché to the Colombian Embassy. Even as he was being investigated for creating, directing, and protecting MAS and personally ordering the murders of suspected guerrilla supporters, he was promoted and returned to the United States for additional course work. Gil retired with honors in 1994 after serving as commander of the armed forces, the country's top military post. 40

Despite this damning report, the military-paramilitary partnership continued. To counter the Procuraduría report, MAS set up a public entity to carry out civic improvements and aid peasants who joined their fight: the Association of Peasants and Ranchers of the Middle Magdalena (Asociación Campesina de Agricultores y Ganaderos del Magdalena Medio, ACDEGAM). Like the military's own counterinsurgency strategy, ACDEGAM operated on two levels: public statements against communism and in favor of a legalization of so-called "self-defense groups" paired with covert attacks, assassinations, and death threats through MAS and in league with the military. 41

Meanwhile, President Betancur had embarked on an ambitious plan to negotiate a cease-fire and eventual peace with guerrillas. Although the negotiation was plagued with problems, by 1984, the FARC had signed a cease-fire and was negotiating the creation of a new political party, the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica, UP), meant to represent Colombians who did not belong to traditional political parties as well as former guerrillas. 42 However, these efforts were bitterly opposed by the military and their civilian allies, including paramilitaries. Many guerrillas who took part in government negotiations were killed. Also targeted were UP members, trade unionists, human rights leaders, and community activists, killed by paramilitaries working with the open support of the military. 43

By 1985, ACDEGAM had powerful new members: drug traffickers who bought land in the Middle Magdalena. The financial support of king pins dramatically improved the quantity and quality of the group's weapons, intelligence gathering ability, and range of action. In 1987 and 1988, ACDEGAM even sponsored training centers with foreign instructors from Israel and Great Britain. 44 Foreign instructors also worked at Las Tangas, a Castaño ranch. 45 At the time, a goal of the drug-linked paramilitaries became "to attack Patriotic Union members and government representatives or political parties that oppose drug trafficking." 46

Years later, details of the lethal alliance between the military, paramilitaries, and drug traffickers were revealed in the testimony of former MAS member Diego Viáfara to government investigators. Viáfara, a medical student, had been attempting to join an M-19 unit in the Middle Magdalena when he was detected by MAS and captured. His life threatened, he accepted a government amnesty in 1983 and was taken into custody by the commander of the Barbula Battalion, Maj. Diego Velandia. Velandia returned him to MAS, where Viáfara was kept a virtual prisoner. Over time, he gained the confidence of MAS leaders and became their doctor. Until agreeing to cooperate with civilian authorities in 1988, Viáfara witnessed the close collaboration in MAS between army commanders, drug traffickers, and paramilitary leaders, among them Pablo Escobar, Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, known as "The Mexican," Fidel Castañ o, and Víctor Carranza, an emerald dealer and reputed drug trafficker with ranches in the Middle Magdalena and the department of Meta. 47

At the time, paramilitaries using the name MAS maintained organizations in at least eight of Colombia's thirty-two departments, including Antioquia, Boyacá, Caquetá, Córdoba, Cundinamarca, Meta, Putumayo, and Santander. Among the weapons they used were R-15 rifles, AKMs, Galils, FALs, and G-3 rifles, all prohibited for civilian use. Weapons and munitions were obtained from private sales as well as the military and Military Industry (Industria Militar, INDUMIL), the military-run weapons manufacturer and the only entity authorized to produce, store, and distribute firearms in Colombia. 48

Shortly after Viáfara confessed, police captured Luis Antonio Meneses Báez, a former army lieutenant who became a paramilitary leader. Meneses, known by the war name of "Ariel Otero," told authorities that paramilitaries maintained close relations with military intelligence, which controlled them and issued them orders. Although he said that the army, navy, and some local law enforcement agencies had relations with paramilitary groups, the army was closest. According to Meneses, regional army intelligence sections under the control of the "Charry Solano" Intelligence Battalion worked through local tactical units to develop paramilitary activities. 49

In 1986, Meneses said, the "Charry Solano" Intelligence Battalion organized a meeting of regional paramilitary leaders in order to forge a united front. 50 At the time, the battalion was under the command of Lt. Col. Alvaro Hernán Velandia (for more on this officer, see Impunity section). A second meeting took place in 1987, this time in Santander, "to create laws, norms, and structures for the organization." At the time, Meneses reported twenty-two socalled self defense groups in seventeen departments, all interconnected by radio and linked to the army by a designated liaison. 51

The year 1988 proved a crucial one. The Center for Investigation and Popular Education (Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP), a human rights group, recorded 108 massacres that year (defined as the killing of four or more people for political reasons), the worst of the decade. Not only were paramilitaries increasingly active in the regions where their members were based; with the active coordination and support of the military, paramilitaries were also sent across country to kill supposed guerrilla collaborators. 52

For instance, in the case of the massacre on the La Honduras and La Negra farms, described more fully in the Impunity section of this report, over preceding weeks the army had arrested some of the eventual victims, taken their pictures, and detained others who were tortured into giving information. This information was then provided to the killers. Before the massacre, the killers were put up at a Medellin hotel by Maj. Luis Becerra Bohórquez, a member of the intelligence division of the Tenth Brigade. Becerra paid the bill with his Diner's Club card. 53

For civil authorities, the final straw came on January 18, 1989, when Middle Magdalena paramilitaries killed two judges and ten investigators near La Rochela, department of Santander. The team had been investigating killings in the area linked to military-backed paramilitaries. Government investigations later linked the massacre to a group working under the command of Lt. Luis Andrade Ortiz, the commander of the nearby Rafael Reyes Battalion, part of the Fourteenth Brigade. Andrade was eventually sentenced by a public order court to a five-year prison term for "assisting terrorist activities." However, a higher court overturned the decision and Andrade mysteriously escaped from a military prison in 1990. In 1994, a civil court in Santander ruled against the government and in favor of the family of murdered Judge Mariela Morales, awarding them damages of 1,000 rams of gold. In its decision, the court wrote that "members of the security forces knew of the activity of guerrillas and paramilitaries in the area ... and nevertheless, the commission was not protected. To the contrary, [the security forces] organized the massacre." 54

In April 1989, President Virgilio Barco (1986-1990) spoke out against paramilitaries, calling them "terrorist organizations.... In reality, the majority of their victims are not guerrillas. They are men, women, and even children, who have not taken up arms against institutions. They are peaceful Colombians." 55 The government moved to arrest paramilitary leaders and outlaw further activity. Two military officers - Maj. Diego Velandia, commander of the Bárbula Battalion, and Lt. Col. Luis A. Bohórquez, commander of the Puerto Boyacá base - were relieved of their commands. Some training centers were dismantled, a special police unit was organized to hunt paramilitaries, and former paramilitaries testified to government investigators about their activities. 56

President Barco also issued the first of several decrees aimed at curbing paramilitary violence. 57 Among them was Decree 815, which reasserted that the sole power to create "self-defense" groups lay with the president, with additional approval required from the Defense and Government (now Interior) Ministries. On May 25, 1989, the Colombian Supreme Court overturned the provisions in Law 48 that allowed the army to distribute restricted weapons to civilians. Decree 1194, issued in June, established criminal penalties for civilians and members of the armed forces who recruit, train, promote, finance, organize, lead, or belong to "the armed groups, misnamed paramilitary groups, that have been formed into death squads, bands of hired assassins, self-defense groups, or groups that carry out their own justice." 58

To counter this legal barrage, ACDEGAM created a political party called the National Restoration Movement (Movimiento de Restoración Nacional, MORENA). However, after an investigation by the Administrative Security Department (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, DAS), an investigative force under the authority of the president, authorities issued arrest warrants for MORENA leaders on charges of murder, terrorism, and illegal weapons possession. 59

Even after these decrees were implemented, however, military leaders continued to work with paramilitaries, defending themselves by arguing that paramilitaries had been effective against guerrillas until drug traffickers induced them to work on behalf of what former Defense Minister Oscar Botero Restrepo termed "perverse interests." 60 In the Middle Magdalena, where the government had collected the most information about the military - paramilitary partnership, the army continued to openly support MAS, even patrolling with them and helping distribute pro-paramilitary propaganda. 61 According to former paramilitary commander Meneses, army intelligence even held a meeting with paramilitary leaders in the department of Caquetá after the Barco decrees, where they discussed ideology and operations planning. 62

By decade's end, Colombia had more paramilitaries than ever. The statistics kept on political violence confirm the deadly results of the military - paramilitary partnership. In the 1970s, human rights groups recorded 1,053 political killings. In the 1980s, that figure leapt to 12,859. 63 Looking back, Rafael Pardo, appointed Colombia's first civilian defense minister in 1991, concluded that by 1989, "Paramilitary groups engaged in organized violence posed the biggest threat to the country's institutional stability." 64


1 Although exact figures are difficult to establish, historians believe that over 200.000 people were killed during La Violencia and two million became internally displaced. Jenny Pearce, Colombia: Inside the Labyrinth (London: Latin America Bureau, 1990), pp. 49-66.

2 By 1980, Colombia had eight guerrilla groups. Along with the FARC and ELN were the April 19 Movement (Movimiento 19 de Abril, M-19), named after the election date they believed was invalidated by fraud in 1970; the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación, EPL), active along the northern coast; the Quintín Lame, an indigenous group based in Cauca; the Revolutionary Workers Party (Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores, PRT); Workers' Self-Defense (Autodefensa Obrera, ADO); and the Independent Revolutionary Movement - Free Homeland (Movimiento Independiente Revolucionario - Patria Libre, MIR-PL). Only the FARC, ELN. and a faction of the EPL remain active.

3 Before World War II, the Colombian army had been modelled on the Prussian army. After it, the United States became both weapons supplier and an ideological and structural model. For a history of the Colombian armed forces. see Elsa Blair Trujillo, Las Fuerzas Armadas: Una Mirada Civil (Santafé de Bogotá: CINEP. 1993).

4 The U.S. drew on diverse sources to create this strategy, including the practices of the German and Japanese armies during World War II. Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990 (New York: Pantheon Books. 1992), pp. 11 -17, 53-54, 59-68, 82-93.

5 Colombia was the only Latin American country to send troops there. Francisco Leal Buitrago, El Oficio de la Guerra (Santafé de Bogotá: Tercer Mundo/Instituto de Estudios Políticos y Relaciones Internacionales, 1994), pp. 47. 69.

6 The Lancero School began training young officers in 1955. Leal, El Oficio de la Guerra, p. 46; and Pearce, Colombia: Inside the Labyrinth, p. 63.

7 McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft, p. 187. Most of the officers who now advance to the highest ranks receive U.S. training. A partial listing is included in the section on U.S. policy.

8 Leal, El oficio de la guerra, p. 84.

9 Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Warfare School, "Subject: Visit to Colombia, South America, by a team from Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 26 February 1962." Kennedy Library, Box 319, National Security Files, Special Group; Fort Bragg Team; Visit to Colombia; 3/62. As quoted in McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft, p. 222.

10 Richard Maullin, Soldiers, Guerrillas, and Politics in Colombia (Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1973), p. 69.

11 Leal, El oficio de la guerra, pp. 80-87, 100-101.

12 This accounting is based on a review of declarations through mid-1996.

13 The decree was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1987. In 1996, a bill introduced in the Colombian congress would return Colombians charged with rebellion to military tribunals. Ibid., pp. 73, 120; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Colombian Commission of Jurists (hereafter CCJ), September 12, 1996.

14 Leal, El oficio de la guerra, pp. 86-87.

15 For a more detailed description of this period, see Americas Watch, The "Drug War" in Colombia: The Neglected Tragedy of Political Violence (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1990), pp. 11-18.

16 Americas Watch, The Killings in Colombia (New York: Human Rights Watch, April, 1989), pp. 50-51.

17 Colombian military classifications run from public to top secret as follows: publico (public), restringido (restricted), confidencial (confidential), reservado (reserved), secreto (secret), and ultra-secreto (top secret).

18 República de Colombia, Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares, Reglamento de Cooperación Civil Militar (Primera ed., Reglamento FF. MM. 5-1 público), 1986, pp. 33, 40-44, 68, 72.

19 McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft, pp. 223-224.

20 Translations by Human Rights Watch. Comando del Ejército, Reglamento de Combate de Contraguerrillas, EJC 3-10 Reserved, 1969 (and periodically updated).

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Translations by Human Rights Watch. Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, Instrucciones Generales para Operaciones de Contra-guerrillas (no date).

24 Carlos Medina Gallego and Mireya Téllez Ardila. La Violencia Parainstitucional, Paramilitary Parapolicial en Colombia (Santafé de Bogotá: Rodriguez Quito Editores, 1994), pp. 86-88.

25 Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Warfare School, "Subject: Visit to Colombia," as quoted in McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft, p. 222.

26 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Blair, Las Fuerzas Armadas, p. 134.

27 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Gen. Fernando Landazábal Reyes, La subversión y el conflicto social (Santafé de Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1980), p. 175.

28 Blair, Las Fuerzas Armadas, pp. 132, 137.

29 Leal, El Oficio de la guerra, pp. 55. 104.

30 Carlos Medina Gallego, Autodefensas, Paramilitares y Narcotráfico en Colombia (Santafé de Bogotá: Editorial Documentos Periodisticos, 1990), pp. 142-143, 170-177.

31 Medina and Téllez, La violencia parainstitucional en Colombia, pp. 88-89.

32 Department of Administrative Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad. DAS) report on confessions of Maj. (ret.) Oscar de Jesús Echandía Sánchez, approximately 1989.

33 Medina, Autodefensas, Paramilitares y Narcotráfico en Colombia, pp. 178-182.

34 In a press interview, Fidel Castaño said he had formed a group known as "People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar, PEPES," credited with hunting down the fugitive drug lord in 1993. Castaño said he broke with Escobar after learning that he had delivered weapons to the ELN and ordered a personal friend of Castaño's killed. For more on the Castaño family, see the La Honduras / La Negra case in the Impunity section. "Yo fui el creador de los Pepes," Semana, May 31, 1994, pp. 38-46.

35 DAS report on confessions of Maj. (ret.) Oscar de Jesús Echandía Sánchez, approximately 1989.

36 Many of these officers would be repeatedly implicated in military - paramilitary atrocities over the following decade. Among them were Captain Echandía, commander of the Bárbula Battalion in Puerto Boyacá: Col. Alvaro Velandia, commander of the Patriotas de Honda Battalion, in Honda, department of Tolima: and Colonel Ramón Emilio Gil Bermúdez, commander of the Comando Operativo No. 10, in Cimitarra, department of Santander.

37 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Carlos Jiménez Gómez, Una Procuraduría de Opinión Informe al Congreso y al País (Santafé de Bogotá: Editorial Printer Colombiana Ltda. 1986), pp. 118-119.

38 Ibid., p. 121.

39 Americas Watch, The Killings in Colombia, pp. 55, 70.

40 Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT). Asociación Americana de Juristas, Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Desaparecidos, Pax Christi Internacional, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, Rechtvaardigheid en Vrede, Commission Justice et Paix, Centre National de Cooperation au Developpement, Nationaal Centrurn Voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, Servicio Paz y Justicia America Latina (hereafter OMCT and others), El Terrorismo de Estado en Colombia (Brussels: Ediciones NCOS, 1992), pp. 146-147.

41 Medina and Téllez, La violencia parainstitucional en Colombia, pp. 96-97.

42 The M-19, EPL, and ADO also signed limited agreements. Only the ADO, however, was demobilized at the time.

43 Americas Watch, The Killings in Colombia, pp. 50-55.

44 Medina, Autodefensas, Paramilitares y Narcotráfico en Colombia, pp. 366-382.

45 "Testimonio clave," Semana, September 28, 1993.

46 Translation by Human Rights Watch. Testimony of Diego Viáfara Salinas to the Procuraduría, February 22, 1989.

47 Testimony of Diego Viáfara Salinas to the DAS, May 10, 1988; and DAS, "Organización de Sicarios y Narcotraficantes en el Magdalena Medio," an intelligence report, July 21, 1988.

48 Ibid.

49 Report on the interrogation of Luis Antonio Meneses Báez. Judicial and Investigative Police (Dirección de Policía Judicial e investigación. DIJIN), Santafé de Bogotá, November 1989.

50 Ibid.

51 Ibid. Meneses was later murdered under mysterious circumstances on January 8, 1992.

52 Diego Pérez - La situación de los derechos humanos en Colombia durante 1991," in Colombia: Análisis al Futuro (Santafé de Bogotá: CINEP. 1992), p. 112.

53 For a more complete summary, see Liga Internacional por los Derechos y, la Liberación de los Pueblos, Camino de la Niebla, Vol. III (Santafé de Bogotá: Liga Internacional por los Derechos y la Liberación de los Pueblos, 1990), pp. 155-246.

54 Translation by Human Rights Watch. OMCT and others, Terrorismo de Estado, pp. 29-30; and "Otra condena por caso La Rochela," Vanguardia Liberal, July 15, 1994.

55 Translation by Human Rights Watch. El Tiempo, April 20, 1989.

56 Over the years many more paramilitary leaders have been killed as a result of internal feuds and drug-related disagreements than have been arrested and prosecuted. Human Rights Watch interview, attorney general's office, July 10, 1996.

57 For a broader discussion, see Americas Watch, The "Drug War " in Colombia, pp. 12-16.

58 Translation by Human Rights Watch, Decree 1194.

59 Charges were filed against Luis Alfredo Rubio Rojas, former Puerto Boyacá mayor; Henry and Gonzalo de Jesús Pérez, Nelson Lesmes, Iván Roberto Duque, Luis Arturo Ramírez, and Luis Meneses Báez (alias Ariel Otero). Several were arrested, but others remain at large as of the writing of this report. Internal document.

60 Translation by Human Rights Watch. "Una calumnia a las Fuerzas Armadas," El Tiempo, March 30, 1990, as quoted in Americas Watch, The "Drug War" in Colombia, p. 17.

61 Residents of the village of La Plazuela told human rights groups that units from the Nueva Granada and Luciano D'Elhuyar Battalions patrolled with known MAS members and distributed pamphlets for the "Peasant Self-Defense Movement of Colombia" in 1990. Letter to Human Rights Watch from Father Javier Giraldo, Intercongregational Commission for Justice and Peace (hereafter Justice and Peace), March 8, 1990.

62 Report on the interrogation of Luis Antonio Meneses Báez, Intelligence Section of the Judicial and Investigative Police. Santafé de Bogotá, November 1989.

63 Liga Internacional por los Derechos y, la Liberación de los Pueblos, El Camino de la Niebla, Vol. II (Santafé de Bogotá: Liga Internacional por los Derechos y la Liberación de los Pueblos, 1990), p. 15.

64 Speech by Rafael Pardo, in Latin American Program. "Colombia: Human Rights and the Peace Process," No. 212, Working Paper Series published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., April 4, 1995, p. 14.

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