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Microdynamics of illegitimacy and complex urban violence in Medellin, Colombia

Dissertation
Author: Robert Dale Lamb
Abstract:
For most of the past 25 years, Medellín, Colombia, has been an extreme case of complex, urban violence, involving not just drug cartels and state security forces, but also street gangs, urban guerrillas, community militias, paramilitaries, and other nonstate armed actors who have controlled micro-territories in the city's densely populated slums in ever-shifting alliances. Before 2002, Medellín's homicide rate was among the highest in the world, but after the guerrillas and militias were defeated in 2003, a major paramilitary alliance disarmed and a period of peace known as the "Medellín Miracle" began. Policy makers facing complex violence elsewhere were interested in finding out how that had happened so quickly. The research presented here is a case study of violence in Medellín over five periods since 1984 and at two levels of analysis: the city as a whole, and a sector called Caicedo La Sierra. The objectives were to describe and explain the patterns of violence, and determine whether legitimacy played any role, as the literature on social stability suggested it might. Multilevel, multidimensional frameworks for violence and legitimacy were developed to organize data collection and analysis. The study found that most decreases in violence at all levels of analysis were explained by increases in territorial control. Increases in collective (organized) violence resulted from a process of "illegitimation," in which an intolerably unpredictable living environment sparked internal opposition to local rulers and raised the costs of territorial control, increasing their vulnerability to rivals. As this violence weakened social order and the rule of law, interpersonal-communal (unorganized) violence increased. Over time, the "true believers" in armed political and social movements became marginalized or corrupted; most organized violence today is motivated by money. These findings imply that state actors, facing resurgent violence, can keep their tenuous control over the hillside slums (and other "ungoverned" areas ) if they can avoid illegitimizing themselves. Their priority, therefore, should be to establish a tolerable, predictable daily living environment for local residents and businesses: other anti-violence programs will fail without strong, permanent, and respectful governance structures.

Table of Contents

Dedication ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... ii

Acknowledgments ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ iii

Table of Contents ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ vii

List of Tables ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. xiv

List of Fi gures ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. xv

Abbreviations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. xvi

Chapter 1. Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ 1

1.1. Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 3

1.2. Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 11

1.3. Implicat ions and Recommendations ................................ ................................ .... 15

1.4. Roadmap ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 19

Part I. Illegitimacy and Violence in Medellín, Colombia ................................ ........... 22

Chapter 2. Background: Medellín and Caicedo La Sierra ................................ ........ 26

2.1. Medellín: From the Conquest of Nutibara to the Rise of Cocaine ........................ 29

2.1.1. A Brief Tour of the Valley of Aburrá ................................ ........................... 29

2.1.2. Bad - Asses, Punks, and Low - Lifes Take Over the C ity ................................ . 36

2.1.3. Pablo Escobar Builds the Medellín Cartel ................................ .................... 47

2.2. Caicedo La Sierra: A Tour through East Central Medellín ................................ .. 72

Chapter 3. Crime and the Emergence of Guerri lla Militias: 1984 - 1992 ................... 79

3.1. Medellín: The Insurgency Comes to the City ................................ ...................... 86

viii

3.1.1. Peace Camps Train Future Warriors ................................ ............................. 86

3.1.2. Militias Emerge to Defend against Cri me ................................ ..................... 92

3.2. Caicedo La Sierra: From Invasions to Statelets ................................ ................... 99

3.2.1. The Invasions Bring Crime, Violence, and Gangs ................................ ........ 99

3.2.2. The Rise of M - 6&7 ................................ ................................ .................... 104

3.2.3. The Rise of La Cañada ................................ ................................ ............... 108

Chapter 4. Gangs and the Corruption of Guerrilla Militias: 1992 - 1998 ................. 110

4.1. Medellín: A War of All against All ................................ ................................ ... 113

4.1.1 . The Militias Start to Lose Control ................................ .............................. 113

4.1.2. Coosercom and the Peace Talks that Brought War ................................ ..... 119

4.1.3. Gangs Learn a Lesson from the Militia Experience ................................ .... 123

4.1.4. The City Responds to the Violence ................................ ............................ 126

4.2. Caicedo La Sierra: Unlocking the Doors to More Violence ............................... 133

4.2.1. Two Children Fight, and the Result Is War ................................ ................. 133

4.2.2. Lif e in an Urban War Zone ................................ ................................ ........ 135

4.2.3. ‘Mama Luz’ and the Community Peace Talks ................................ ............ 149

4.2.4. The Illegitimation of the Militias ................................ ................................ 160

Chapter 5. Mafias and the Emergence of Pa ramilitaries: 1998 - 2002 ...................... 164

5.1. Medellín: ‘Don Berna,’ ‘Double Zero,’ and the Complex War .......................... 181

5.1.1. ‘Double Zero’ Enters Medellín ................................ ................................ ... 181

5.1.2. ‘Don Berna’ Joins the F ight ................................ ................................ ....... 18 5

5.1.3. Cacique Nutibara Plays ‘Monopoly’ ................................ ........................... 186

5.1.4. The Battle for the West ................................ ................................ .............. 188

ix

5.2. Caicedo La Sierra: ‘Job,’ ‘Scab,’ ‘Doll,’ and the Final Battle ............................ 192

5.2.1. Metro Takes Over M - 6&7 ................................ ................................ .......... 192

5.2.2. ‘Job’ Takes Over Cacique Nutibara ................................ ............................ 196

5.2.3. The Battle for the East ................................ ................................ ................ 197

5.2.4. Cacique Nutibara Tar gets Metro ................................ ................................ . 201

Chapter 6. Traffickers and the Corruption of Paramilitaries: 2002 - 2007 .............. 207

6.1. Medellín During the ‘Miracle’ Period ................................ ............................... 223

6.1.1. The Fall of the ‘Politi cal’ Paras ................................ ................................ .. 223

6.1.2. The Fall of the ‘Narco’ Paras ................................ ................................ ..... 232

6.1.3. The Rise of the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ ................................ ..................... 241

6.2. Caicedo La Sierra: ‘Job,’ ‘Memín’ and the Quiet War ................................ ....... 256

6.2.1. ‘Memín’ and the Death of ‘Alberto Cañada’ ................................ .............. 256

6.2.2. An Uneasy Peace, with Hope for the Future ................................ ............... 265

Chapter 7. A Window of Opportunity, Closing Quickly: 2007 - 2009 ....................... 271

7.1. Medellín: Dark Forces and Black Eagles ................................ ........................... 276

7.2. Caicedo La Sierra: Rising Fear amid Hope for the Future ................................ . 284

7.2.1. The Fear of Strangers Returns ................................ ................................ .... 284

7.2.2. Selective Violence Returns ................................ ................................ ......... 288

7.2.3. The Hopes of the Community ................................ ................................ .... 291

Part II. Analysis and Conclusions ................................ ................................ ............. 301

Chapter 8. Complex Viole nce in Medellín ................................ ................................ 304

8.1. Patterns of Violence ................................ ................................ .......................... 308

8.2. Homicide Data ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 311

x

8.3. Self - Inflicted Violence ................................ ................................ ...................... 319

8.4. Interpersonal Violence ................................ ................................ ...................... 323

8.4.1. Intrafamilial Violence ................................ ................................ ................ 323

8.4.2. Communal Violence ................................ ................................ .................. 328

8.5. Collective Violence ................................ ................................ .......................... 340

8.5.1. Social Violence ................................ ................................ .......................... 345

8.5.2. Political Violence ................................ ................................ ....................... 348

8.5.3. Economic Violence ................................ ................................ .................... 352

Chapter 9. Legitimacy and Illegitimacy in Medellín ................................ ................ 356

9.1. Proxy Indicators ................................ ................................ ................................ 363

9.2. Causal Indicators ................................ ................................ .............................. 365

9.2.1. Transparent ................................ ................................ ................................ 368

9.2.2. Credible ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 368

9.2.3. Justifiable ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 369

9.2.4. Equitable ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 371

9.2.5. Accessible ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 372

9.2.6. Respectful ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 372

9.3. Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 373

9.3.1. Legitimacy of Nonstate Armed Actors ................................ ....................... 374

9.3.2. Legitimacy of Community Actors ................................ .............................. 390

9.3.3. Legitimacy of State Actors ................................ ................................ ......... 407

Chapter 10. Implications ................................ ................................ ........................... 412

10.1. Summary of Findings ................................ ................................ ...................... 412

xi

10.2. Implications for Policy ................................ ................................ .................... 414

10.2.1. Protect and Respect Residents of Peripheral Barrios ................................ . 414

10.2.2. Protect Businesses from Protection Rackets (‘Vacunas’) .......................... 418

10.2.3. Prepare for ‘Invasions’ by Internally Displaced Persons ........................... 418

10.2.4. Keep Data - Collection Programs Funded and Transparent ......................... 419

10.3. Implications for Strategy ................................ ................................ ................. 420

10.4. Implications for Theory ................................ ................................ .................. 423

Part III. Appendices ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 428

Appendix A. Policy, Globalization, and Governance ................................ ............... 429

A.1. Definitions ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 432

A.2. Policy and Globalization ................................ ................................ .................. 445

A.3. Policy, Governance, and ‘Ungoverned’ Areas ................................ .................. 463

Appendix B. Complex Violence ................................ ................................ ................ 481

B.1. Manifestations of Violence ................................ ................................ ............... 490

B.2. Context of Violence ................................ ................................ ......................... 495

Appendix C. Legitimacy and Illegitimacy ................................ ................................ 501

C.1. What Is Legitimacy, and What Does It Do? ................................ ...................... 507

C.1.1. Legitimacy, Lo yalty, Support, Right, and Duty ................................ .......... 523

C.1.2. Illegitimacy and Opposition ................................ ................................ ....... 526

C.2. What Else Does What Legitimacy Can Do? ................................ ..................... 529

C.2.1. Agreement and Habit ................................ ................................ ................. 530

C.2.2. Seduction, Persuasion, and Compromise ................................ ................... 531

C.2.3. Force, Coercion, and Barter ................................ ................................ ....... 534

xii

C.2.4. Deception ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 536

C.3. Legitimacy of What? ................................ ................................ ........................ 536

C.4. Legitimacy According to Whom? ................................ ................................ ..... 541

C.5. Legitimacy by What Processes? ................................ ................................ ....... 548

C.6. Legitimacy by What Criteria? ................................ ................................ .......... 549

C.7. Measurement Framework ................................ ................................ ................. 559

Appendix D. Research Design and Hypotheses ................................ ........................ 564

D.1. Motivation ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 564

D.2. Method: Single - Case Study with In - Case Variation ................................ .......... 568

D.3. Data Sources ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 571

D.4. Symbols ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 576

D.5. Model Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ........................... 578

Model Hypothesis 1: Not Legitimacy ................................ ................................ ... 584

Model Hypothesis 2: Legitimacy as Causal P henomenon ................................ ..... 594

Model Hypothesis 3: Legitimacy as Caused Phenomenon ................................ .... 597

Model Hypothesis 4: Legitimacy as Intervening Phenomenon ............................. 600

Model Hypothesis 5: Legitimacy as A ntecedent Phenomenon .............................. 603

Model Hypothesis 6: Legitimacy as Feedback ................................ ..................... 604

D.6. Rejected Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ........................ 605

Hypothesis i ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 606

Hypothesis ii ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 607

Hypothesis iii ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 608

Hypothesis iv ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 609

xiii

Hypothesis v ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 610

Hypothesis vi ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 611

Hypothesis vii ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 612

Hypothesis viii ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 613

Hypothesis ix ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 614

D.7. Synthesized Models ................................ ................................ ......................... 615

Bibliography ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 619

xiv

List of Tables

Tabl e 2 - 1. Brief Glossary of Key Spanish, Lunfardo, and Parlache Terms ..................... 40

Table 8 - 1. Correlation Coefficients among Five Measures of Homicides ..................... 312

Table 8 - 2. Crime Report Correlations with Different H omicide Measures ................... 337

Table B - 1. Contexts and Manifestations of Violence, with Examples .......................... 497

Table C - 1. A Framework for Measuring Legitimacy ................................ ................... 559

Table C - 2. Criterial Measures of Legitimacy ................................ ............................... 562

Table D - 1. Six Model Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ............... 58 4

Table D - 2. Nine Rejected Hypotheses and Two Synthesized Models ........................... 606

xv

List of Figures

Figure 8 - 1. Five Measures of Homicides in Medellín, 1984 - 2008 ................................ 313

Figure 8 - 2. Homicides in Medellín, by Month, 1987 - 2009 ................................ ........... 314

Figure 8 - 3. Comparison of Homicides across Levels of Analysis ................................ . 31 6

Figure 8 - 4. Homicide Rate in Medellín, 1967 - 2008 ................................ ..................... 319

Figure 8 - 5. Suicides in Medellín, 199 0 - 2006 ................................ ............................... 320

Figure 8 - 6. Trends in Suicides versus Homicides ................................ ......................... 321

Figure 8 - 7. Trends in Common - Crime Reports versus Homicides ................................ 334

Figure 8 - 8. Social Cleansing in Antioqu ia versus Homicides in Medellín .................... 347

Figure 8 - 9. Trends in Political Violence versus Homicides ................................ .......... 350

xvi

Abbreviations

ACCU: Autodefensas Campesinas de Córdoba y Urabá, Peasant Self - Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (paramilitary)

ACMM: Autodefensas Campesinas de Magdalena Medio, Peasant Self - Defense Forces of

Magdalena Medio (paramilitary)

AGC: Autodefensas Gaitanistias de Colombia, Gaitanist Self - Defense Forces of Colombia (paramilitary)

AP: Associ ated Press

AUC: Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, United Self - Defense Forces of Colombia (paramilitary network)

BCE: before common era; equivalent to BC (before Christ)

Coosercom: Cooperativa de Seguridad y Servicios a la Comunidad, Community Services and S ecurity Cooperative (demobilized militias)

DANE: Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística, Department of National Statistics Administration (state census bureau)

DDR: demobilization, disarmament, and reinsertion

DoD: United States Department of Defense

DoS: United States Department of State

ELN: Ejército de Liberación Nacional, National Liberation Army (guerrilla)

EPL: Ejército Popular de Liberación, People’s Liberation Army, sometimes translated as Popular Liberation Army (guerrilla)

xvii

FARC: Fuerz as Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (guerrilla)

FTO: Foreign Terrorist Organization (DoS designation)

GDP: gross domestic product

GWOT: Global War on Terrorism

IDP: internally displaced person

JAC: Junta de Acción Comunal, Community Action Board (state body)

JAL: Junta Administradora Local, Local Administration Board (state body)

M - 19: Movimiento Abril de 19, April 19 th Movement (guerrilla)

M - 6&7: Milicias 6 y 7 de Noviembre, November 6 - 7 Militia (urban militia)

MA S: Muerte a Secuestadores, Death to Kidnappers (death squad)

MoD: Colombian Ministry of Defense

MPPP: Milicias Populares del Pueblo y para el Pueblo Popular, Militias of the People and for the People (urban militia)

MPVA: Milicias Populares del Valle de Ab urrá, People’s Militias of the Aburrá Valley (urban militia)

Pepes: Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar, People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar (death squad)

PLO: Palestine Liberation Organization

PUI: Plan Urbanístico Integral, Comprehensive Urban Plan

UGA/SH: “Ung overned Areas and Threats from Safe Havens” (Lamb, 2008)

UNDP: United Nations Development Programme

UP: Unión Patriótica, Patriotic Union (political party)

USSOUTHCOM: United States Southern Command

Lamb, Robert D. | Chapter 1 . Introduction

1

Chapter 1.

Introduction

If you have been paying attention, but not too closely, you might recognize the following story. Medellín, Colombia, known worldwide as the hometown and headquarters of Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel, was at one point during the early 1990s the second most violent city in the world, behind o nly Beirut. Escobar’s death in a rooftop shootout with police in 1993 did little to curb the violence, as the urban wars there only become more complex during the 1990s: wars between rival street crews and rival drug gangs; between drug gangs and community vigilante groups; between mafia - backed drug gangs and guerrilla - backed militias acting as community self - defense vigilantes; between guerrilla - backed militias and mafia - backed anti - guerrilla paramilitary self - defense vigilantes; and between the state secu rity forces and guerrillas, gangs, militias, and … well, who else you got? By 2002, the homicide rate in Medellín was among the highest in the world. It was Fallujah before Fallujah was Fallujah. Even Beirut had become somewhat of a tourist destination by the turn of the millennium.

But something funny happened the following year: after Colombia’s security forces successfully ousted the last of the guerrilla - backed militias from the city, the biggest, baddest, anti - guerrilla – narco - terrorist – paramilitary – vig ilante – pimp – hit - squad – racketeering mafia — the description is not an exaggeration — laid down its weapons, declared peace, and reentered society as responsible, and forgiven, citizens. In 2004, homicides plummeted. By 2006, the murder rate was actually hig her in Washington, Baltimore, Detroit, and Miami than it was in Medellín. Huge community libraries and

Lamb, Robert D. | Chapter 1 . Introduction

2

public - transportation cable cars were being built in the former war zones of the city’s hillside periphery. People were staying out late, dancing downtow n again. Hippie backpackers from Europe and North America were showing up unannounced, hanging out for a few weeks, then moving on to their next cheap tourist destination with hardly an unpleasant experience to report in their travel blogs. There was a hou sing boom, a business boom, a self - confidence boom. Articles were appearing in the international press with titles like “Sustaining the Medellín Miracle” and “Medellín’s Makeover.” 1

The city was an international success story, and policy makers facing comp lex urban violence in their own countries began showing up looking for advice. U.S. policy makers started talking about replicating its aid package to Colombia in other countries, such as Mexico, where drug violence was starting to look like Medellín’s in the 1980s, or Afghanistan, where the drug trade had long funded civil wars and insurgencies but increasingly benefited pro - Taliban forces. These contexts may or may not have been comparable to the situation in Medellín. Nevertheless, to many observers, Med ellín had become an example of how to overcome a very complex and very violent policy problem in a very short period of time, and many were interested in the answer to a question: How did this happen?

It turns out, however, that their question was prematur e. The decline in the homicide rate since 2003, the most widely cited indicator of the “Medellín Miracle,” started to reverse itself sometime during 2007 or 2008 and skyrocketed during 2009: during just the first seven months of 2009, Medellín witnessed mo re murders than it had

1

Anthony Faiola, “Sustaining the Medellin Miracle: Colombia Struggles to H old on to Gains from Globalization,” The Washington Post, 11 July 2008; Forrest Hylton, “Medellín’s Makeover,” New Left Review 44 (2007): 70.

Lamb, Robert D. | Chapter 1 . Introduction

3

in all of 2008. In short, judging from the data, the miracle was over: the murder rate had returned to the city’s 2003 levels.

Before policy makers around the world start taking lessons from Medellín’s experience — and before critics start pointing told - you - so fingers at Medellín’s elite —

the question to ask is not how the supposed miracle happened, but rather: What actually happened?

1.1.

Research Design

To answer that, I moved to Medellín in August 2008, when it was still unclear whethe r the “miracle” was ending, and spent the next ten months getting to know the people and the culture, consulting experts, interviewing residents, collecting documents and data, reading books and newspapers, and engaging in informal conversations with dozen s of common people, cab drivers, teachers, social workers, and friends of friends. I developed a framework, based on one developed in the public - health field, to systematically analyze violence: not only homicides, not only violence by or against certain p opulations, and not only violence during a single period of time — the standard approaches of most work on violence in Medellín — but the full range of physical and psychological forms of violence involving many different populations over five more or less distinct periods over the past 25 years. From previous research, I knew that most problems of violence and social instability in history have been strongly associated with some kind of legitimacy deficit, and so, finding few works that had dealt with legi timacy in Medellín both systematically and thoroughly, I modified and expanded a framework I

Lamb, Robert D. | Chapter 1 . Introduction

4

had previously developed for analyzing legitimacy, so that it could be used to analyze legitimacy and illegitimacy across multiple levels of analysis. 2

Because lif e takes place at multiple levels but is experienced most immediately at the micro level, I studied the case at two levels of analysis: the city of Medellín as a whole, and a small sector within the city. To capture within - case variation, I studied both lev els over five periods in recent history, divided according to whether homicides (as a proxy for violence) were declining or rising: the period 1984 to 1992 experienced a dramatic increase in homicides at both levels of analysis; the period 1992 to 1998 wit nessed fluctuations in the magnitude of homicides but with an overall downward trend; this was followed by another spike in violence between 1998 and 2003; the period 2003 to 2007 experienced a dramatic decline in homicides at both levels; and, finally, be ginning in 2007 or 2008 homicides began an ominous rise that continued into 2009. That design made it possible to compare the three periods in which homicides were rising with each other and with the two periods in which homicides were falling; and to comp are the two declining periods with each other and with the three rising periods. Other forms of violence turned out either to track the patterns in homicides reasonably well or to go against them in ways that did not invalidate the division of time.

Using these frameworks as a systematic way to analyze and organize the quantitative and qualitative data I collected, I tried to answer three basic questions that seem never to have been asked before:

2 The previous research was Robert D. Lamb, Ungoverned Areas and Threats From Safe Havens, final report of the Ung overned Areas Project (Washington: Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, 2 January 2008), http://www.cissm.umd.edu /papers/display.php?id=306. The earlier framework was discussed in Robert D. Lamb, “Measuring Legitimacy in Weak States” (paper presented at the Graduate Student Conference on Security, Georgetown University, Washington, 18 March 2005).

Lamb, Robert D. | Chapter 1 . Introduction

5

1.

What have the overall patterns of violence been during the pa st 25 years?

2.

What has caused those patterns to change?

3.

What role did legitimacy or illegitimacy play in those changes?

The first question — what were the patterns of violence in Medellín? — was meant to go beyond those works that study only one type of vio lence (such as homicides), 3 only one category of perpetrator (such as gangs or paramilitaries), 4 only one type of victim (such as displaced populations or trade unionists), 5 only one brief period of time (such as annual human rights reports), 6 or only one case within the city (such as an

3

e.g. Marleny Cardona, et al., “Homicidios en Medellín, Colombia, Entre 1990 y 2002: Actores, Móviles y Circunstancias,” [“Homicides in Medellín, Colombia, fr om 1990 to 2002: Victims, Motives and Circumstances,”] Cadernos de Saúde Pública 21, no. 3 (2005): 840.

4

e.g. Ralph Rozema, “Urban DDR - Processes: Paramilitaries and Criminal Networks in Medellín, Colombia,” Journal of Latin American Studies 40, no. 3 (200 8): 423; Edwin Cruz Rodríguez, “Los Estudios Sobre el Paramilitarismo en Colombia,” [“Studies of Paramilitarism in Colombia,”] Análisis Político No. 60 (2007): 117; Gilberto Medina Franco, Una Historia de las Milicias de Medellín (Historia Sin Fin) [A Hist ory of the Militias of Medellín (A Never - Ending Story)] (Medellín, Colombia: Instituto Popular de Capacitación – IPC, 2006), http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/colombia /ipc/historiamilicias.pdf (accessed 10 April 2009); Ramiro Ceballos Melguiz o and Francine Cronshaw, “The Evolution of Armed Conflict in Medellin: An Analysis of the Major Actors,” Latin American Perspectives 28, no. 1 (2001): 110; Alonso Salazar J., No Nacimos Pa’ Semilla: La Cultura de las Bandas Juveniles de Medellín [Born to D ie: The Culture of Youth Gangs in Medellín] , 5º ed. (Bogotá: Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular – CINEP, 1991).

Full document contains 682 pages
Abstract: For most of the past 25 years, Medellín, Colombia, has been an extreme case of complex, urban violence, involving not just drug cartels and state security forces, but also street gangs, urban guerrillas, community militias, paramilitaries, and other nonstate armed actors who have controlled micro-territories in the city's densely populated slums in ever-shifting alliances. Before 2002, Medellín's homicide rate was among the highest in the world, but after the guerrillas and militias were defeated in 2003, a major paramilitary alliance disarmed and a period of peace known as the "Medellín Miracle" began. Policy makers facing complex violence elsewhere were interested in finding out how that had happened so quickly. The research presented here is a case study of violence in Medellín over five periods since 1984 and at two levels of analysis: the city as a whole, and a sector called Caicedo La Sierra. The objectives were to describe and explain the patterns of violence, and determine whether legitimacy played any role, as the literature on social stability suggested it might. Multilevel, multidimensional frameworks for violence and legitimacy were developed to organize data collection and analysis. The study found that most decreases in violence at all levels of analysis were explained by increases in territorial control. Increases in collective (organized) violence resulted from a process of "illegitimation," in which an intolerably unpredictable living environment sparked internal opposition to local rulers and raised the costs of territorial control, increasing their vulnerability to rivals. As this violence weakened social order and the rule of law, interpersonal-communal (unorganized) violence increased. Over time, the "true believers" in armed political and social movements became marginalized or corrupted; most organized violence today is motivated by money. These findings imply that state actors, facing resurgent violence, can keep their tenuous control over the hillside slums (and other "ungoverned" areas ) if they can avoid illegitimizing themselves. Their priority, therefore, should be to establish a tolerable, predictable daily living environment for local residents and businesses: other anti-violence programs will fail without strong, permanent, and respectful governance structures.