Background Information on BACRIM Remainders of the Paramilitaries and a Threat to Peace (E)
From America’s Society Council on the Americas Explainer. “Bacrim groups were formed by members of the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-defense Forces of Colombia, known as the AUC, who did not want to join the demobilization process led by the Álvaro Uribe government between 2003 and 2006. A December 2015 report by the NGO Indepaz showed the growth of Bacrim groups in Colombia between 2013 and 2014. Although their total membership had dwindled, in 2014 they were present in over a third of Colombia’s 1,102 municipalities.
“Among Bacrim, los Urabeños are the country’s largest illegal armed group after the FARC, with at least 2,600 members and a presence in 304 municipalities. By comparison, the latest data available show that the FARC has 6,700 members. They are followed by los Rastrojos, an offshoot from Valle del Cauca paramilitaries, whose membership was around 500, with a presence in 149 municipalities. A smaller group, las Águilas Negras, has a presence in only 27 municipalities, but its profile in the media is strong because of its custom of sending death threats to artists and human rights activists.
Bacrim are mostly active in the Pacific and Atlantic coasts—locations that allow them to smuggle drugs easily. They have also made their way to the large, mostly uninhabited, coca-growing plains of eastern Colombia, historically the territory of the smaller left-wing guerrilla National Liberation Army, known as the ELN”.