In July 2004, when paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso was demobilising, he admitted to the Colombian parliament that the illegal extreme rightwing forces controlled 35 percent of the seats. Ten years later the situation is very similar: one-third of the new senate, where congressional power mainly resides, is allegedly linked to the paramilitaries.
"I was displaced here by mining a month ago. Illegal miners forced me out of my municipality. No, don't write down where I'm from, let alone my name," said a 40-year-old black man frightened for his safety. IPS agreed to say only that he is from Colombia’s southern Pacific coast region.
Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today.