Taking Steps towards Peace: Social Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Northern Colombia
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The demobilization of the paramilitary group AUC poses the Colombian society for new challenges. This thesis studies the process of social reconstruction and reconciliation in the northern regions Córdoba, Súcre and Bolívar, based on field research in the first half of 2007. The main interventions that were being employed were the ley Justicia y Paz, which relates to justice, truth and reparation, the reintegration program for demobilized paramilitaries and a community justice project organized by the MAPP-OEA. This thesis demonstrates that there is a discrepancy between the nationally designed programs and its implementation on community level. The process is furthermore hampered by the distrust of the institutions, which were infiltrated and corrupted by the paramilitaries, the inability of the state to protect the victims, and the insufficient attention to the poorer regions of Colombia. New armed groups that have taken over narco traffic routes left by the paramilitaries, seriously threaten the fragile peace in the regions previously under control by the AUC. The thesis argues that for a successful process of social reconstruction it is indispensable that the government increases its attention for the reality of the local processes in the regions. The rights and protections of victims need to be guaranteed. With the demobilization, Colombia has entered a new phase in the long conflict, however this thesis concludes that, given the shortcomings in the interventions to social reconstruction and reconciliation, it will be a long and complex process with a risk of continuing violence and prolonged conflict. While neglect of the poor rural regions has been one of the root causes for the Colombian conflict, insufficient attention of the Colombian government to the local level now seriously hampers social reconstruction.