It is commonplace to say that Colombia is facing one of the longest armed conflicts to date (1964-2009). Today, Colombia has the second largest number of internally displaced people after Darfur, some four million, and one of the worst human rights records documented.1 This “new war,” to use Kaldor’s term,2 in which the distinctions between private/public, international/national, and combatant/civilian are blurred, has attracted the scholarly interest of political scientists and international relations and conflict studies scholars alike.3 What is not common, however, is to find scholars discussing the occurrence of genocide in Colombia. As I have argued elsewhere,4 however, genocide happened and is still ongoing today. Between 1985 and 2002, an entire political party, the Unión Patriótica (UP), was annihilated in the midst of the 40-year Colombian armed conflict. The UP was a political front bringing together the Communist Party and other leftist and centrist political forces. It was the product of the Uribe Agreements between the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a MarxistLeninist oriented guerrilla movement, and the Colombian government in 1984. Although the UP was thought of as the means for the FARC to demobilize, the year itself seemed not to be the right moment for such a strategy. In fact, the UP was set up at a time of adverse conditions. Internationally, Reagan was carrying out his campaign against communism in order to defy the belief that the United States’ hegemony was declining.5 In Colombia itself, the counterinsurgency campaign led by the Colombian government had stepped up since 1981 when the army, drug traffickers, and governmental officials established a paramilitary group based in the Middle Magdalena Valley in order to defeat various guerrilla groups. This, together with the FARC’s own new (1982) strategy of government takeover, which meant a rise in kidnapping for ransom and ever more harassment of landowners and other sectors of the population in order to increase their finances, resulted in a degenerate war in which all the actors increasingly targeted non-combatants as a means of winning the war. In spite of these conditions, the UP was publicly launched in May 1985. According to some UP survivors, the assassination of civilians involved in the UP process started even before the official launch.6 It is estimated that, since 1985, between 3,000 and 5,000 of its members have been assassinated, hundreds

have been disappeared, thousands displaced and many others rejected their UP affiliation so as to survive the violence.7 Over the last 20 years or so, different genocidal practices have brought down the social and political power of the UP resulting in its annihilation. Cepeda8 suggests that the UP genocide occurred in three phases: first, the weakening of organizational structures (1984-92), then, the coup de grâce phase that normalized its destruction (1992-2002), and finally, although the UP formally ceased to exist in Colombian politics in 2002 due to a lack of affiliates and support in the polls, the last stage is the destruction of the survivors which is, according to Cepeda, still ongoing today. This chapter is an attempt to explore some dynamics within the first period of the UP genocide. Given that the first stage of the genocide developed along with the international turmoil of the unexpected end of the Cold War, which saw, in the early 1980s, the re-emergence of the US crusade against communism, I pay special attention to the role that US-Colombian relations played in the development of the genocide. This analysis, I believe, demonstrates Grandin’s assertion that “the conception of democracy now being prescribed as the most effective weapon in the war on terrorism is itself largely, at least in Latin America, a product of terror.”9