Democratic security or Democratic security policy refers to a Colombian security policy implemented during the administration of the Former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010). It was unveiled in June 2003.
It has been stated that this policy seeks to achieve the following objectives, among others:
- Consolidate State control throughout Colombia to deny sanctuary to terrorists and perpetrators of violence.
- Protect the population through the increase of State presence and a reduction in violence.
- Destroy the illegal drug trade in Colombia to eliminate the revenues which finance terrorism and generate corruption and crime
- Transparently and efficiently manage resources as a means to reform and improve the performance of government.
Several of these objectives stem from a belief in that the Colombian government should protect Colombian society from the effects of terrorism and the illegal drug trade, and in turn society as a whole should have a more active and comprehensive role in the government's struggle against illegal armed groups such as the FARC and ELN guerrillas or the paramilitary AUC, in order to ensure the defense and continued existence of the opportunity for both leftwing and rightwing political parties to engage in free and open debate, along with all the other aspects of democratic life.
The previously mentioned objectives would be achieved through:
- engaging the civilian population more actively
- supporting soldiers
- increasing intelligence capacity
- reinstating control over national roads
- demobilizing illegal groups
- integrating the armed forces services
- increasing defense spending.
The Policy of Democratic Security resulted in the vast expansion of the Colombian Justice System, and the solidification of the state over its territory. In the eight years that Alvaro Uribe was president of the country, it saw a significant growth both in social, and economical terms.
- - Journalist Kidnappings fell by 93.3%
- - Homicides fell by 74.3%
- - Kidnappings fell by 95.7%
- - The number of soldiers specialized in Human Rights increased by 346.1%
- - Subsequently, the number of Human Rights violations reported by the UN fell by 96.7%
- - Acts of terrorism decreased by 84.8%
- - The ranks of the FARC Guerrilla fell in numbers by 58.3%
- - Cocaine production reached a historical low
- - 17.000 rebels were demobilized and were reintegrated into normal life.
- - Operation Check (Jaque) resulted in the rescue of 15, high-profile individuals without a single shot.
- - Operation Chameleon (Camaleón) had no injuries and over 300 soldiers helped in rescuing the hostages that FARC had.
- - There were over 1200 extraditions to the US
- - 70.000 formerly displaced civilians were able to return to their homelands, as rural areas were re-militarized.
Part of the Democratic Security was the abolishment of the USDC (United Self-Defenders of Colombia) or AUC in Spanish, a paramilitary group that had been operating since the 90's to defend remote areas from guerrilla influence when no professional soldiers were available. This meant that very quickly, the government regained the monopoly over weapons, and reintegrated completely the regions that were formerly isolated, including the expansion of the National Police Force.
- - The GDP of the country rose by 193.1%
- - The average salary of the worker rose by 165.4%
- - Tourism into the country increased by 139%
- - A Treaty of Free Trade was signed with the USA in 2006, as a result, exports from Colombia grew by 76.9%, and imports by 120.9%.
- - Poverty rates were reduced by 7%
- - Carbocol, Minercol, Bancafe, and Telecom were privatized, since these were the main drivers of the growing national debt.
- - 96% of Colombians gained access to a stable and viable health service due to the implementation of the Law 100.
- - The number of students in public universities rose by 170%, and in private by 26.8%.
The democratic security policy has become controversial inside and outside Colombia since the beginning of its application. Most of the critics and detractors of this policy, including human rights NGOs (such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) and political opposition groups (such as the Colombian Liberal Party and the Independent Democratic Pole), share the assessment that it focuses too much on the military aspects of the Colombian Armed Conflict, relegating complex social, human rights and economic concerns to a secondary role, superseded by the perceived need for increased security.
Several critical analysts have accepted that there have been some factual improvements in the areas of security (for the most part) and human rights (to a lesser degree), but they also question the exact validity and application of some of the statements, pointing out serious problems, in particular (but not only) paramilitary related, which remain a source of grave concern.  It is argued that any limited short-term results achieved in this manner would not be sufficient to effectively resolve the country's prolonged state of violence, and in fact may actually worsen the situation by alienating or intimidating part of the population, directly or indirectly.
Several of the critics also argue that, due to the increased degree of involvement of the civilian population, that this policy overexposes civilians to the dangers of the conflict, becoming potential targets for any abuses committed both by the illegal armed groups and the government's security forces. From this point of view, the resulting polarization caused by the long-term application of the policy would also be considered an obstacle to the achievement of a negotiated solution of the conflict with FARC and ELN guerrillas.
A number of the more radical critics, in particular leftwingers and sympathizers or members of FARC, also consider that "democratic security" may be a euphemism for the controversial national security policy that existed throughout South America during the later stages of the Cold War, seeking to stop the spread of Communism. This would imply that the application this policy would also lead to the repression of any form of dissent and opposition to the current administration, including student movements and political parties. Supporters of the policy (and most other critics) tend to not consider the previous argument to be accurate, arguing that there are several differences between both policies, in particular that the democratic security policy is being implemented by a legally elected government, in an environment where a number of democratic and political liberties are guaranteed, despite the continuing conflict.
- "Colombia unveils security plan". BBC.com. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- "The Uribe Administration's Democratic Security and Defense Policy" (PDF). Embassy of Colombia. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- "Democratic Security and Defense Policy". Embassy of Colombia. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- POLÍTICA DE SEGURIDAD DEMOCRÁTICA- LA 2da. INDEPENDENCIA, retrieved 2019-10-24
- "Operación Camaleón", Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre (in Spanish), 2019-08-05, retrieved 2019-10-24
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- Human Rights Watch: Americas : Colombia
- Page has moved Archived 2005-02-15 at the Wayback Machine
- Colombia - Democratic Security & Defense Policy
- Política de Seguridad Democrática (in Spanish, .PDF)
- Amnesty International - Colombia : The "democratic security" policy is not a human rights policy
- BBC Talking Point- Uribe defends security policies
- The International Crisis Group - Colombia: President Uribe’s Democratic Security Policy (.PDF)
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - Colombia 2005 Report (Spanish and English)
- Alternet - Human Rights Crumble in Colombia
- The Miami Herald - Colombia - Democratic Security program not a failure
- HACER - Colombia's security policy: You do the math