They see targets’ UNITED SELF DEFENCE FORCES OF COLOMBIA
MASSACRES, assassinations, kidnappings and torture – it was all in a day’s work for the AUC.
An umbrella group made up of regional far-right paramilitary units in Colombia, the AUC was formed in 1997, with each arm determined to protect its area’s economic, social and political interests from left-wing insurgents – something they said the state had failed to do.
Considering it was set up by drug-traffickers, it’s no surprise the 31,000-strong army developed into one of the world’s most violent gangs.
The AUC says it only took up arms to defend itself against guerrilla armies, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
But the European Union and US Department Of State claim the AUC is every bit as deadly as its enemies – and all three organisations are deemed terrorist threats.
Colombian National Police credit the AUC with 804 assassinations, 203 kidnappings and 75 massacres with 507 victims – all in the first 10 months of 2000.
Others say the unit was also responsible for a further 204 unsavoury incidents in 2004, including murders, kidnappings, rape, intimidation and looting.
As well as targeting lefty civilians, the AUC also killed several trade unionists and swept through indigenous communities in a hurricane of violence.
In general, the violence ended in 2003, when the AUC signed a peace deal and its leaders surrendered in exchange for reduced jail terms and protection from extradition.
But since 2008, at least 12 of the AUC’s head honchos have been extradited to the US to face drug-trafficking charges for violating terms of the agreement.