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Understanding Criminal Networks, Political Order, and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean


Understanding Criminal Networks, Political Order, and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean

Abstract: 
In June 2007 I visited a shantytown in the Comunas Nororientales of Medellín, an area that until recently had been a major site of conflict in Colombia’s generations old civil war. Over the past two years, paramilitary groups, through negotiations with the state and defeating FARC militias in the area have established dominance over the local shantytowns. In this process they have not only pushed the guerillas out of much of the neighborhood but they have also taken over many of the neighborhood civic groups, in the process forcing many residents who do not agreewith their political program to leave.  The paramilitaries who operate in this area are part of a larger military-political structure that is connected into the Corporacion Democracia a political interest group that coordinates the wider demobilization process in Medellín, negotiates the national truth and reconciliation process for some paramilitary groups, and makes demands of the government to effectively distribute resources to the areas of the city dominated by their affiliates. The paramilitaries have been very successful in establishing local dominance and, through such programs as the city’s participatory budgeting initiative, gaining control of the state resources flowing into the neighborhood and using them to enhance their status.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Arias, Enrique D. 2010. "Understanding Criminal Networks, Political Order, and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean." In Ungoverned Spaces: Alternatives to State Authority in an Era of Softened Sovereignty. Stanford, CA:Stanford University Press.

START Author(s): 
Enrique Arias
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