This thesis highlights the origins of paramilitary death squads in Colombia and further examines the background of their relationship with the military and government. In 1948, the assassination of liberal leader Jorge Gaitan led to a period of political unrest known as “La Violencia.” This situation jeopardized Colombia’s alliance with the United States, and American advisors recommended the creation of civil defense patrols to combat communism. Consequently, military forces allied to the government operated in rural Colombia against communist supporters. There was, however, little control over these troops, and its members committed multiple crimes, including mass murder. Those who stood against them, such as prosecutor Ivan Gomez, faced death threats and witnessed the assassination of colleagues, while corrupt justices and politicians did not intervene. Therefore, the close association between the Colombian government and the paramilitaries has resulted in the lack of prosecution of these death squads for their crimes. To approach this topic, I will use interviews with members of the AUC, which was the largest paramilitary group in Colombia, and Human Rights Watch reports. I will also look at works of many historians who examine how the Colombian military cooperates with paramilitaries, enables their crimes, and prevents their prosecution.
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Rance, Cullen, "Death Squads: The Hidden Killers of Colombia" (2020). Student Theses, Papers and Projects (History). 274.
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