Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday signed the last three building contracts to fully implement his plan to build 100,000 free houses for the poor.
In the northern Colombian department of Bolivar, the final cornerstone of President Santos´ and minister German Vargas Lleras´ free housing project was laid in the town of El Salado, where the final 100 houses of his 100,000 free homes will be built.
An enthusiastic Santos tweeted on Thursday, “We are transforming Colombia into a more just country, today we signed the final three construction contracts for 100,000 free houses.”
Estamos transformando a Colombia en un país más justo, firmamos hoy en El Salado últimos 3 contratos de construcción de 100.000 casas gratis
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) March 21, 2013
El Salado has seen its fair share of atrocities including one of the country’s worst massacres in February of 2000, when AUC paramilitaries killed at least 60 civilians, believed to be supporting the Marxist rebel group FARC.
Minister Lleras commented on Thursday’s breakthrough as well and in doing so shed light on the massacre.
“With this act, the national government demonstrates its willingness and commitment to peace. We cannot forget what happened in El Salado in February of 2000 and that is why the eyes of the president of Colombia and of the government are set on this population that deserves a better future,” said Vargas Lleras.
Santos announced his plan to build free houses in August 2012, and stated in an address that over the next 24 months, “We are going to award housing to the poorest of the poor, in the first phase, 100,000 houses completely free, without bank loans.”
In February, 568 free houses were constructed in the Pacific port town of Buenaventura. The houses were largely funded by seized assets of captured Norte de Valle cartel leader Carlos Ramirez Abadia, alias “Chupeta.” His illegal assets reportedly funded $33.2 million of the housing project. State funding contributed about $1.3 million.