When paramilitary umbrella organization AUC demobilized between 2003 and 2006, their demobilization benefited numerous unaffiliated drug traffickers. Demobilized former FARC guerrillas are now helping to prevent a repetition in their process.
The first alarm bell rang when newspaper El Tiempo discovered that a Bogota crime lord had incorrectly appeared on the FARC demobilization list and been given the title of “peace manager.”
The harshly immediately reminded authorities of the dubious peace process of former President Alvaro Uribe and the paramilitary group AUC.
The inflation of paramilitary fighters is what later spurred criminal charges against the country’s former peace commissioner and suspicion justice officials had taken bribes to promote impunity rather than justice.
When the paramilitaries began demobilization talks in 2002, they claimed to have between 8,000 and 9,000 members. By the end of their demobilization, however, some 32,000 people had demobilized.
Among those who benefited from the judicial benefits granted to paramilitary fighters were unaffiliated drug traffickers like “El Tuso,” “El Mellizo” and “Gordolindo.”
The discovery of Bogota crime lord “Fercho” on the FARC’s list almost immediately caused the authorities and the former guerrillas to panic.
Peace Commissioner Rodrigo Rivera said that more than 2,800 fake guerrillas had joined the demobilization, claiming that more than 382 suspicious demobilization requests were still reviewed.
Also the FARC, which now pursuing a legal career in politics, has gone into overdrive in order to verify the names on their surrendered list.
Of the 382 investigated demobilization requests, 160 were confirmed to be fake by the former guerrillas, the peace commissioner’s judicial adviser, Monica Cifuentes, told newspaper El Espectador.
The Unites States Drug Enforcement Administration has also reportedly been verifying whether drug suspects wanted for extradition are not trying to use the FARC’s demobilization to be shielded from extradition.
Curiously this has been a sign of seriousness of the process, because we have demobilized the FARC on the basis of the full identification of each one of its members. This is contrary to what happened with the paramilitaries, because to this day we continue clarifying names of the lists of people who were demobilized at that time.
According to newspaper El Espectador, 11,348 have been confirmed FARC members before September 14. Another 350 are investigated for not having any identification papers while another 287 remained “under observation.”
The Peace Commissioner’s judicial adviser denied El Tiempo’s claim that attorneys were selling demobilization tickets to convicts.
“Until now we do not have any evidence entries on the FARC lists are being sold,” said Cifuentes, whose office will continue to try to purify the FARC list to prevent the mass fraud committed during the last demobilization process.