Killing social leaders for territorial control : The unintended consequences of peace
We study the unintended consequences of the recent peace process in Colombia, that ended over five decades of internal armed conflict with the FARC insurgency. Using a triple differences empirical strategy, we show that the permanent ceasefire that started in December 2014 in the context of the peace negotiations was followed by an increase in the killing of social leaders in previously FARC-dominated territories, perpetrated by other armed groups seeking control of these areas. Consistent with our interpretation that local social leaders are killed to thwart collective action and mobilization at the municipal level, we show that the targeting of social leaders is not explained by the behavior of the overall homicide rate and that it is exacerbated in municipalities with weaker state capacity and an inefficient local judiciary. Our results suggest that partial pacification processes can exacerbate violence by other existing armed groups, aimed at controlling pacified territories.