11513 - Cooperation between different violent non-state actor groups in Colombia's borderlands - A Threat to Citizen Security?

This paper aims to increase our understanding of how borderland dynamics are relevant for citizen security in a region. By synthesizing theories of citizen security, Phil Williams’ business network theory and borderland theory underpinned with March and Olsen’s ‘logic of appropriateness’ into one comprehensive analytical framework, I hope to produce limited generalisations that help understand how cooperation between different groups of violent non-state actors (VNSAs) in borderlands affects citizen security locally and in the heartlands. Citizen insecurity arising from violent crime and fear tends to be explained with obsolete state institutions, weak democratic governance and eroded traditional community patterns. I argue that, while these explanations are valid, there is a further aspect that requires consideration: that the periphery matters for citizen security in the states’ heartlands.The Colombian borderlands are conditioned by weak state governance systems, a high-risk/high-opportunity environment and, due to their geostrategic situation, they constitute major links in the global cocaine business. Combined, these elements have produced a status quo in which numerous different types of VNSA groups, including rebels, neoparamilitary groups, BACRIM and drug traffickers, form ‘arrangements of convenience’ to reap profits from the cocaine business and other illegal economic activities. Drawing on Williams’ business-network-theory, I conceptualise this cooperation as clusters of critical nodes of intersecting ‘dark networks’ which, together, form the cocaine business’s supply chain network. By employing violence, undercutting the state-society relationship and challenging social cohesion, the actors involved in it contribute to the decrease in citizen security in the region. The paper’s methodology is based on tracing the networks from the borderlands-nodes to heartlands-nodes and vice versa. Data is gathered through interviews in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Palabras claves: citizen security, borderlands, drug trafficking, Colombia, organized crime

Autores: Idler, Annette (University of Oxford, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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