Ana səhifə

Professor of international studies school of international studies university of miami

Yüklə 139 Kb.
ölçüsü139 Kb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

Violence, Internal Migration and Social Catastrophe

In the 15 years between 1985 and 2000 Colombia’s internal wars displaced some 1.7 million Colombians from their places of origin. In 1999 alone at least 225,000 people were driven from their homes, communities and livelihoods by political and drug-related violence. Of these, approximately 53 percent were women and children. In contrast to the privileged few from the wealthier strata of Colombian society that have managed to immigrate to the United States, the vast impoverished majority of displaced Colombians have found themselves condemed to roam the country as internal migrants in search of work, food, shelter and safety. In mid-1999 the United Nations reported that current aid and other efforts by the Colombian government to help the displaced “have proven absolutely insufficient, causing a deplorable situation of human suffering.”54

A 1999 study of Colombia’s displaced population found that paramilitary groups were responsible for 47 percent of all forced displacements in recent years. The guerrillas -- especially the FARC and the ELN – were held responsible for 35 percent. State security forces accounted for 8 percent, unknown criminal groups for 7 percent and drug traffickers for 1 percent.55
Most of the displaced have been forced to flee their villages as a result of incursions, massacres, death threats or land seizures carried out by the right-wing militias or by the leftist guerrillas. Indeed, many observers contend that both the right-wing groups and the Marxist insurgents alike employ strategies of systematic regional “cleansing” to rid areas of people who do not support them and then turn over the abandoned lands to their followers or family members. Colombian air force anti-guerrilla bombings and army raids have, nonetheless, also been significant complicating factors in many rural areas as has the U.S.-backed anti-drug campaign –particularly aerial spraying of the coca and opium poppy crops – carried out by the Colombian government.56
Some of the displaced manage to find refuge with relatives in nearby communities, but with constantly escalating violence this “solution” has often left them exposed to the risk of being uprooted a second or even third time within weeks or months. The few government-established refuge camps available are typically overcrowded and frequently vulnerable to violent reprisals from one side or the other in the on-going conflicts convulsing the nation’s rural areas. Tens of thousands have been left no alternative but to swell the ranks of rural migrant laborers working in the illicit coca or opium fields as “raspachines” or “scrapers” harvesting coca leaves or collecting opium gum from poppy flowers—the only gainful employment remaining in many violence-torn rural areas.57
Hundreds of thousands of others have migrated from the countryside to Colombia’s urban areas where housing, schooling, health care and jobs are scarce, especially given the country’s deep economic recession in the late 1990s.58 Consequently, begging, prostitution and violent crime in Colombia’s urban centers skyrocketed over the1990s. Medellin, for example, following the demise of the Medellin drug cartel in the early 1990s, witnessed the proliferation of criminal youth gangs – some 138 according to recent reports—often affiliated with major criminal organizations.59 Bogota, Cali, and other major cities have all suffered similar dramatic increases in migration, delinquency and common criminality over the last decade.60
The spiraling violence and massive population displacements in the countryside have also driven thousands of dispossessed peasants into the ranks of either the guerrillas or the paramilitaries. Although all sides deny that they pay their troops regular wages, they do admit to payments of irregular stipends to impoverished rural youths (or their families) as part of their efforts to recruit new combatants into their organizations. Children as young as 8 to 10 years of age are often used as spies or scouts and teenagers (both boys and girls) are routinely trained and deployed as fighters. Some are simply kidnapped and others are taken, often against their will, in lieu of payment of “taxes” or repayment of family debts. But many of Colombia’s displaced youth find joining up with one side or the other to be their only viable life-option.61
The Marxist guerrillas often stage “consciousness-raising” political sessions in the peasant communities where they hold sway to attract new adherents to their groups and they routinely furnish food, shelter, uniforms, weapons and even basic education to the young people who enlist. Marxist ideological indoctrination is an integral part of the training for new arrivals. The paramilitaries espouse anti-Communist doctrines but are typically less concerned with ideology than the rebels. They rely primarily on material incentives and desires for revenge against the guerrillas to attract recruits. Interviews with former rebels who have been captured by the army or have deserted reveal that few teenagers express firm Marxist ideological convictions and that many speak of changing sides – either signing up with the paramilitaries or a criminal gang -- once they are released from custody. In short, for many displaced youths the decision to join the guerrillas or the militias is a “rational economic choice” dictated by which group dominates in a particular area or region rather than an ideological commitment. The lack of adequate governmental programs and resources to deal with the displaced masses literally leaves many with no realistic economic alternative. If and when Colombia’s internal conflicts finally give way to formal peace, crime rates will almost certainly continue to soar among the uneducated, unemployed and maladapted youths and young adults who have been forcibly uprooted from their homes and families and irreparably traumatized by the violence that have endured.62

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət