Colombia’s peace process will cost the country approximately $31 billion in the coming decade, according to a prominent Swiss conflict expert who was involved in preparing a peace deal with FARC rebels.
Conflict expert and diplomat Julian Hottinger of Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry provided technical expertise while the government and the FARC were negotiating peace in Havana.
Before that the Swiss diplomat was involved in peace efforts in Sudan, Indonesia and Uganda.
Estimate lower in dollars, but not in pesos
The expert confirmed the claims made by the president of the Senate’s Peace Commission, Senator Roy Barreras, who previously said that the total cost will be approximately COP90 trillion.
When Barreras made his claim in 2014, this translated to $44 billion. However, due to a drop in value of the peso, this now translates to $31 billion.
“To execute the post-conflict process $31 billion, some 93 trillion pesos, will be needed,” Hottinger was quoted as saying by newspaper El Tiempo while back in the Swiss capital Bern.
“This is a huge number and obviously it can not be assumed by one single country. We will have to see how this is allocated,” the diplomat said.
Where is the money?
The problem with getting the necessary money is that Colombia is going through an economic slump and had to cut public spending with 19% for the current fiscal year.
No money for the peace process was earmarked in neither this year’s nor next year’s budget, which has already resulted in warnings from economics experts.
Both the International Monetary Fund and the World bank have urged world leaders to provide funds, but without much response.
US President Barack Obama promised an annual $450 million for the process in February, but the Republican majority in US Congress has refused to even look at the Democrat administration’s budget, leaving Washington’s contribution up in the air.
The European Union has promised a $450 million loan and an $80 million aid package.
Even if Obama is able to free the promised funds, the funds promised by the international community would only be good for one third of the cost of the first year of Colombia’s peace process, while funds are needed for a decade.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who has extensively toured the globe in the hope to obtain financial support, said Wednesday that legal and fiscal authorities will be going after the FARC’s money.
The guerrillas are partly responsible for the damage done during the 52-year armed conflict and should use the money they have made with drug trafficking, kidnapping and other criminal activities to contribute to the peace process.
The FARC has denied having any money that will be needed for the FARC’s reintegration, peace building and the reparation of the approximately 8 million victims left by the conflict.
But even if the guerrillas’ treasure trove is found this would only cover a fraction of the funds needed to the process, making Colombia’s lack of money one of the biggest enemies to a stable and long-lasting peace in the country.