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The Good Life Deferred and Risks of Remobilization

The Good Life Deferred and Risks of Remobilization

(p.163) Chapter Four The Good Life Deferred and Risks of Remobilization
Guerrilla Marketing
Alexander L. Fattal
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 considers the economic reintegration of former guerrillas once they demobilize. It questions the Colombian government’s attempt to transform Marxist rebels into entrepreneurs. The analysis of small business started by former guerrillas illuminates structural factors that grate against the chances that former guerrillas might create a profitable venture. When these startups — bakeries, nail salons, internet cafés, mechanic shops — end in bankruptcy, many former rebels are broke and broken by the savage capitalism at play in Colombian cities. Predatory lending makes matters worse. The quick fix to the economic quandaries the demobilized face is to remobilize with another armed group, most often narcoparamilitaries. The slower fix is weaving together civil society groups and support networks; however, in the paramilitarized periphery of Colombian cities, such activities are often considered a sign of guerrilla activity and former rebels are the first suspects. All the while the Colombian government is pitching a story of branding as a silver bullet, promoting ventures like a fashion cooperative of demobilized fighters united behind a new brand: Chance (the English word). This initiative, like other such spectacles, hides a very real urban war playing out impoverished urban neighborhoods where remobilization is often a death sentence.

Keywords:   economic reintegration, risks of remobilization, narcoparamilitaries, brand spectacle, urban ethnography, entrepreneurialism

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