Forced Disappearance in the Borderland: Unveiling Victims' Invisibility in Norte de Santander
89 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 11 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 15, 2020
The 55 year-long armed conflict in Colombia left more than 80,000 individuals forcibly disappeared across the country, more than any other country in Latin America. Despite the peace agreement reached between the guerrilla FARC group and the Colombian government in 2016, features of the conflict continue, particularly in Norte de Santander, where the phenomenon of forced disappearances has increased on behalf of armed groups, narco-trafficking circles, and both small and large criminal organizations. As a borderland, distant from the state center and of transnational nature, Norte de Santander encompasses specific dynamics that cannot be ignored when responding to the phenomenon of forced disappearance. Using quantitative data from Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General and audio interviews of victims' families, this capstone project sheds light upon this increasing phenomenon in the context of three distinct explanatory variables: (i) FARC demobilization following the 2016 peace accord with the Colombian government, followed by a reemergence of other armed non-state actors in their stead; (ii) illicit economies such as coca and black market gasoline, which characterize economic informality and regionwide insecurity; and (iii) a dramatic increase of displacement from Venezuela into Colombia via both regular and irregular border crossings in Norte de Santander. This capstone project calls for further research on the idiosyncrasies that make Norte de Santander a particularly dangerous borderland and, ultimately, serves as a reminder for the Colombian state to comply with its obligations to prevent, investigate, and sanction the crime of forced disappearance under domestic and international law.
Keywords: forced disappearance, desaparición forzada, borderland, border, norte de santander, colombia, armed conflict, armed groups, non-state actors, narco-trafficking, informal economy, illicit economies, crimes against humanity, insecurity, citizen security, trochas, migration, venezuela, latin america
JEL Classification: J46, J61, K14, K33, K37, K38, K42, L31, N96, R59, Y10, Y91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation