Paramilitaries of the Empire

Guatemala, Colombia, and Israel

in Social Analysis
Staffan Löfving Stockholm University

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Analysts of war and states construe paramilitary violence in terms of excessive responses to insurgencies too powerful to be quelled by means of conventional warfare (see, for example, Sluka 2000). But the case of the crumbling state of Colombia hints at a more complex relationship between the various practitioners of political violence; what used to be state-sanctioned rural militias are building their own political platform and claiming a place in the troubled negotiations between state and insurgency. This short essay grapples with the paramilitary function of state power in two Latin American countries that survived the Cold War, wounded but alive only to find their fate sealed by a new world order.

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