Scandal Links Colombian Government to Paramilitaries, Overshadowing Demobilization Successes

Scandal Links Colombian Government to Paramilitaries, Overshadowing Demobilization Successes

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- For years, paramilitary death squads and guerrillas waged a campaign of terror and violence against the indigenous Kankuamo people in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of northeastern Colombia. Their goal was to seize coca plantations, control narcotrafficking routes and profit from large infrastructure projects.

In Kankuamo areas, the paramilitaries would gather the people together to watch as they brutally killed someone, or tossed their victims in the road to be run over by cars.

Now, however, many of those and other paramilitary leaders are in jail, facing harsh penalties and potentially large payments that are to serve as reparations to their victims' families as part of a demobilization process that has seen more than 30,000 members of the death squads lay down their arms since 2003.

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