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“We are Illegal, but not Illegitimate.”
Modes of Policing in Medellin, Colombia



Over the years, paramilitary groups and the Colombian state have jointly policed marginal neighborhoods of the city of Medellin. Using evidence from events that have marked the history of this Colombian city, I argue that the murky pact between paramilitary and state forces reveal the nature of the state, as a force of capture, and of its sovereignty. Building on the analysis of the Italian word intreccio (intertwining) that Jane and Peter Schneider use to analyze the Sicilian Mafia and its link to the Italian state, and using Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the “war machine” acquired by the state for reterritorialization, I suggest that the intertwinement between the state and organized crime is a manifestation of the presence of the state, not of its absence at the margins. I conclude that this intertwinement is not a sign of the state's weakness but of its power; a proof of the state's effectiveness, not of its failure.