Paramilitary Territorial Control and Patterns of Violence Against Civilians in Colombia: Disappearances in a Stable Paramilitary Fiefdom


The article looks at territorial control in a paramilitary fiefdom in Colombia, through the lens of a specific form of violence against civilians: disappearance. It finds that the outcomes and micro-dynamics governing disappearance can hardly be explained plausibly through some of the core ideas found in the literature of rebel governance. It explains why this is so, and proposes alternative conceptualizations.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v15i1p37

Keywords: Colombian paramilitaries; territorial control; armed brokerage; patterns of violence against civilians; disappearance


Arjona, A. (2017), Rebelocracy. Social Order in the Colombian Civil War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blok, A. (1974), The Mafia of a Sicilian village, 1860-1960. A study of violent peasant entrepreneurs, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Castaneda E. and C. Schneider (eds. 2017), Collective violence, contentious politics and social change. A Charles Tilly Reader, New York and London: Routledge.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2013), Huellas y rostros de la desaparición forzada (1970-2010), Bogotá.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2014 a), Normas y dimensiones de la desaparición forzada en Colombia, Bogotá.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2014 b), Balance de la acción del estado colombiano frente a la desaparición forzada de personas, Bogotá.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2017), Memoria de la infamia. Desaparición forzada en el Magdalena Medio, Bogotá.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2018), Desaparición forzada. Balance de la contribución del CNMH al esclarecimiento histórico, Bogotá.

Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica (2019), El Estado suplantado. Las Autodefensas de Puerto Boyacá, Bogotá.

Franzinelli M. (2012), Delatori, Feltrinelli Editore.

Gutiérrez J. A. (2018), “What do rebels do when they rule?”, Journal of Political Power, 11(1): 125-133.

Gutiérrez Sanín F. (2019), Clientelistic Warfare: Paramilitaries and the State in Colombia (1982–2007), Oxford: Palgrave.

Gutiérrez Sanín, F. and E. Wood (2017), “What Should We Mean by “Pattern of Political Violence”? Repertoire, Targeting, Frequency, and Technique”, Perspectives on Politics, 15:1 pp. 20-41.

Idler A. (2019), Borderland Battles Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kalyvas S., (2006), The logic of violence in civil war, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kalyvas S., (2012), “Micro level studies of Violence in Civil War: Refining and Extending the Control-Collaboration Model”, Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, 24:4 pp. 658-668.

Kasfir N., (2015), “Rebel Governance –Constructing a Field of Inquiry: Definitions, Scope, Patterns, Order, Causes”, in A. Arjona, N. Kasfir and Z. Mampilly (eds.), Rebel Governance in Civil War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huang R. (2016), The Wartime Origins of Democratization, Rebel Governance and Political Regimes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mandic D. (2021), Gangsters and other statesmen. Mafias, separatists, and torn states in a globalized world, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Mann M. (1993), The Sources of Social Power, Volume 2. The Rise of Classes and Nation-States, 1760–1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mayer P. (1999), “Militarism and development in underdeveloped societies”, in Kurtz L. & Turpin J. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, San Diego/London: Academic Press.

Medina Gallego, C. (1990), Autodefensas, paramilitares y narcotráfico en Colombia: origen, desarrollo y consolidación: el caso "Puerto Boyacá, Editorial Documentos Periodísticos, Bogotá.

Rojas, O. and F. Benavides (2017), Ejecuciones extrajudiciales en Colombia, 2002-2010, Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotá.

Romero M. (2003), Paramilitares y autodefensas (1982-2003), Iepri, Bogotá.

Ron J. (2003), Frontiers and Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel, University of California Press.

Salinas Y. and J. M. Zarama (2012), Justicias y Paz. Tierra y territorios en las versiones de los paramilitares, CNMH, Bogotá .

Sartori G. (1970). “Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics.” American Political Science Review, 64:1033–53.

Strauss S. (2015): Making and unmaking nations. War, leadership and genocide in modern Africa, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London.

Tate W. (2015): Drugs, thugs and diplomats. US policy making in Colombia, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

Wood E. (2012), “Rape During War is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence” in B. Morten, E. J. Wood, and A. Butenschø Skre (editors): “Understanding and Proving International Sex Crimes”, Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, Beijing, pp. 389-420.

Zukerman Daly S. (2016), Organized Violence after Civil War: The Geography of Recruitment in Latin America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.