By Kim R. Cragin, Bruce Hoffman
Identifies the resources and routes utilized by arm traffickers to shop for, promote, transfer,and send guns and the implication of small hands trafficking styles for U.S. coverage.
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Additional info for Arms Trafficking and Colombia
In the past, only campesinos and wealthy landowners compensated for their lack of protection by acquiescing to demands from insurgents or by obtaining weapons to use themselves. But now, this phenomenon has spread to Colombia’s cities and affected its middle class. So, while small arms have always been a part of the political conflict, in recent years the situation has intensified and taken on all the characteristics of an arms race. ______________ 21Author interviews, Bogotá city official, June 2001.
El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua serve primarily as source countries, rather than as transit routes. Their designation as “source countries” does not mean that their local companies produce small arms for the black market, nor does it mean that all of the weapons from these three countries come from old caches. Some munitions trickle into Nicaragua and Honduras from the Caribbean, the United States, and Mexico. Weapons coming from El Salvador mostly cross into Nicaragua and Honduras first, and then continue on to Colombia.
The authorities suspect that these bombs were planted as part of an ongoing struggle between the ELN and the AUC to gain control over the city. Furthermore, Barrancabermeja’s neighboring city, Bucaramanga, is a logistical hub for northeastern Colombia. It links three major highways and works as an internal distribution route for both the ELN and the AUC. Because of this strategic transportation route, the Colombian Department Norte de Santander, and its capital city Barrancabermeja in particular, are focal points of urban warfare between the AUC and the ELN (“Desactivan Dos Carros Bomba En Barrancabermeja,” El Tiempo, May 25, 2001).
Arms Trafficking and Colombia by Kim R. Cragin, Bruce Hoffman