Research article

Paramilitarism without Paramilitaries: 'Tres Caínes' and the Representation of Paramilitarism on Colombian TV Screens



The goal of this article is to analyse the representation of the Colombian armed conflict in the controversial TV series Tres Caínes (2013), which dramatizes the history of paramilitarism in Colombia through a biographical story of the lives of the three brothers Castaño Gil, the leaders and founders of Colombia’s biggest paramilitary group, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). I argue that Tres Caínes represents the war through a rhetoric that is close to human rights and transnational justice perspectives, portraying its characters according to a dichotomy between victim and victimizer. Although the series purports to take a neutral position in the conflict, and condemns individual paramilitary leaders, it simultaneously salvages the ideology of paramilitarism, and thereby indirectly supports the political project of Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Because of this, despite apparently taking a pacifist stance, the series constitutes a cultural product that works against peace in Colombia, and is an example of how humanitarian discourse can be easily exploited in the service of warmongering and reactionary messaging.


ColombiaAUCTres Caínesparamilitarismrepresentation
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 1–23
  • DOI: 10.18573/newreadings.112
  • Published on 30 Dec 2020
  • Peer Reviewed