The extreme right-wing militias called the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), which were created to help the army fight the extreme left-wing guerrillas, are far from having been disarmed. According to official figures, a major programme for dismantling the AUC from 2003 to 2006 resulted in the demobilization of 30,000 of its fighters in exchange for a broad amnesty. Most of them have turned to contract killing and drug trafficking, but between 5,000 and 8,000 reportedly regrouped in about 20 bands that resumed paramilitary activities in 12 departments.
The most feared of these armed groups, the “Black Eagles,” continues to impose a reign of terror, killing journalists or forcing them to censor themselves or flee the country. They target journalists who criticize the so-called “democratic security” policies launched by President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), which are still in force. Their victims also include local and community journalists working in areas where clashes continue.