Unintended Consequences Of a Colombian Law

The reality of a surge in criminal gangs following the questionable demobilization process of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is merely an indicator of a wrongheaded approach to bringing about peace and reconciliation by the central government [ “New Chapter in Drug Trade,” news story, Sept. 5].

President álvaro Uribe’s short-term Justice and Peace Law, a measure of expediency that sharply reduces jail time for illegal paramilitary fighters who wish to confess to avoid being extradited to the United States, gives Bogota almost no time to prepare for the reintegration of such combatants into civilian life. The fact that former mid-level AUC commanders have committed crimes in the midst of a demobilization process hints at what might happen once the Justice and Peace Law lets the “big fish” out of prison — and into an environment where they can continue to exercise vast influence.

As a result, many former high-level leaders responsible for Colombia’s most atrocious human right violations will have the means to potentially win elections to senior positions in the Colombian government — this time legally.