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Perpetrator blocs, genocidal mentalities and geographies: the destruction of the union patriotica in Colombia and its lessons for genocide studies

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 10:20 authored by Andrei Gomez-Suarez
This article presents the destruction of the Union Patritica (UP) in Colombia during the 1980s and 1990s as a case of genocide. As the UP was a political front, the article relies on the already longstanding debate about the importance of including the protection of political groups against genocide. Although the endeavour is to present the UP genocide, the need of broader genocide understandings underlies it. The paper deals with issues challenging narrow definitions of genocide based on the intention criteria and mass killing. First, it engages in describing the socio-historical processes that brought about both the UP and the perpetrators. It explores how, various actors established violent relations against the UP, interacting together as a bloc against what they identified as a threat to their interests. Second, it shows that the emergence of a genocidal mentality, which was the product of previous violent processes inherited from the 19th and early 20th century, allowed different actors to wage war against the UP. The article suggests that when genocidal mindsets take shape in social relations, even victims colligate violence as a normal development; this passivity permits the continuation of genocidal practices that are underway. Third, it argues that such genocidal mentality resulted in the UP genocide due to the ongoing degenerate war, which had escalated from the late 1970s. Fourth, it demonstrates that the degenerate war was part of the state building process embedded still in the discourse of the National Security Doctrine; thereby showing that the UP genocide was related with international factors and the late modern state building process in Colombia. Finally, the article shows the importance of geography in the development of the genocidal episode and prompts genocide scholars to take geography into account when studying such violent processes.


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  • Published


Journal of Genocide Research









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  • International Relations Publications

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