||Between 2003 and 2006 the Colombian government implemented a demobilization process
for 37 armed groups that made up the brutal, mafia-like, paramilitary coalition known as the
AUC (the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia). The
government claimed success, as more than 30,000 persons went through demobilization
ceremonies, pledged to cease criminal activity, and entered reintegration programs offering
them training, work, and stipends. Since then, the government has repeatedly said that the
paramilitaries no longer exist.
But almost immediately after the demobilization process had ended, new groups cropped
up all over the country, taking the reins of the criminal operations that the AUC leadership
Today, these successor groups are quietly having a dramatic effect on the human rights and
humanitarian situation in Colombia. Of particular concern, as documented extensively in
this report, the successor groups are engaging in widespread and serious abuses against
civilians, including massacres, killings, rapes, threats, and extortion. They have repeatedly
targeted human rights defenders, trade unionists, displaced persons including Afro-
Colombians who seek to recover their land, victims of the AUC who are seeking justice, and
community members who do not follow their orders.