“Paramilitarism in Colombia refers to the origins and historical development of far right paramilitary organizations in Colombia. The paramilitaries claim to be acting in opposition to revolutionaryMarxist-Leninist guerrilla forces and their allies among the civilian population. Right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia are the parties responsible for most of the human rights violations in the latter half of the ongoing Colombian Armed Conflict. According to several international human rights and governmental organizations, right-wing paramilitary groups have been responsible for at least 70 to 80% of political murders in Colombia per year, with the remainder committed by leftist guerrillas and government forces. Paramilitary groups control the large majority of the illegal drug trade of cocaine and other substances together with the main Colombian drug cartels, especially in terms of trafficking and processing activities.
The first paramilitary groups were organized by the Colombian military following recommendations made by U.S. military counterinsurgency advisers who were sent to Colombia during the Cold War to combat leftist political activists and armed guerrilla groups. The development of later paramilitary groups has also involved elite landowners, drug traffickers, members of the security forces, politicians and multinational corporations. Paramilitary violence today is principally targeted towards peasants, unionists, indigenous people, human rights workers, teachers and left-wing political activists or their supporters.”