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Paramilitary power and "parapolitics": subnational patterns of criminalization of politicians and politicization of criminals in Colombia

Escobar, Mariana (2013) Paramilitary power and "parapolitics": subnational patterns of criminalization of politicians and politicization of criminals in Colombia. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The phenomenon of corruption in the context of civil wars is of increasing interest in scholarly literature. Colombia exhibits a particular case in which right-wing paramilitaries from the United Self-Defence of Colombia, strongly supported in drug tra*cking activities, colluded with local politicians and captured the subnational state in many a region, under a phenomenon known as “parapolitics” or the politics of paramilitaries. Unlike the latest generation of armed conflicts in which warlords have sought to deconstruct the state, Colombian paramilitaries levered their strategic interests within the existing institutional framework, backed by local political elites and authorities, and pivoted on patron-client ties. In the context of these alliances, paramilitaries provided politicians with a violent muscle meant to protect electoral processes and maximize votes. In return, politicians protected paramilitary activities and represented the Self- Defence warlords in Congress in order to feed their political, judicial and economic domains. By elucidating the nature of "parapolitics" and by addressing the question of why (conditions), how (mechanisms) and to what purpose (ultimate goal) did the phenomenon emerge in Colombia, I examine in subnational comparative perspective the cases of Sucre and Norte de Santander departments. By building causal paths in historical perspective I substantiate parapolitics in the selected cases as well as variations in the processes and outcomes thereof. Although the cases do not represent the whole universe of "parapolitics", causal paths help building explanatory frameworks that may be generalizable to a larger universe of similar cases.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Mariana Escobar Arango
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Sidel, John T.

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