Govt agency fails to compensate paramilitary victims

Victims of paramilitary groups, prosecutors, and ex-paramilitaries allege that Accion Social, Colombia’s presidential aid agency, has mismanaged funds intended for those affected by paramilitary violence, reports Verdad Abierta.

The Victims’ Reparation Fund, set up by the government following paramilitary demobilization four years ago, has received over $12 million, numerous vehicles, thousands of units of cattle and many hectares worth of property and homes from former paramilitaries.

However, so far only $14,448, four trucks and six motorcycles have been distributed amongst paramilitary group Bloque Norte’s 8,000 victims.

An attorney for victims of the Catatumbo Bloc paramilitaries told Verdad Abierta that “Accion Social has thousands of acres, businesses and money from the paramilitaries in their hands and do nothing to accelerate the reparation process.”

Ex-paramilitaries have also complained about Accion Social’s inaction.

I had a plantation worth over 800 million [pesos] that was only valued at 37 [million],” claims Jose Baldomero Linares, alias “Guillermo Torres,” demobilized leader of “Autodefensas del Meta y Vichada.”

Piraban Manuel de Jesus, former head of the Bloque Centauros, said that assets he gave were also sold for less than their value.

Deputy Director of Accion Social, Marlene Mesa, told El Espectador “We cannot receive properties whose taxes cost more than the property itself, ones with debts or those where there are problems with establishing the title.”

Verdad Abierta says that unless Accion Social finds a way to speed up the compensation process for the 250,000 people waiting for compensation, victim organizations may seek international justice which would cost Colombia far more than the amount that the individuals are currently due to receive.

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