The US State Department announced on Tuesday that it has removed the designation of United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, also known as AUC, as a foreign terrorist organization.
US Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “I conclude that the circumstances that were the basis for the designation of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia as foreign terrorist organization have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation of the designation,” according to a statement in the Federal Register.
The AUC officially demobilized in 2006 under former President Alvaro Uribe’s Justice and Peace Law, but the weak demobilization and reintegration programs led to the splintering of the AUC and the creation of neo-paramilitary groups and what the Colombian government has dubbed, BACRIM or criminal bands.
The AUC, led by the Castaño brothers, was perhaps the most brutal and violent armed group in Colombia’s civil war. The paramilitary organization had over 30,000 fighters at its height during the years 1997 to 2006. The group was a union of most of the paramilitary organizations operating in the country.
The arch nemesis of Colombia’s rebel groups FARC and ELN, were the AUC, which conducted social cleansing atrocities and mass displacement to eradicate the civilian support structure of the guerrilla movements.
The AUC was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2001.
- In the Matter of the Designation of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (US Federal Registry)