Colombia’s government failed to account for an excess of $137 million made by the now-defunct AUC paramilitary organization through mining, which should have been used for victim reparation, reported El Tiempo newspaper on Monday.
The figure relates to extensive mining operations carried out by the Central Bolivar block of the illegal right-wing group between 2003 and 2006, the details of which were to the full knowledge of the Prosecutor General’s office and were not declared for the victim reparation fund as part of the demobilization process.
In a recent ruling, the Superior Court of Justice and Peace ordered that “precautionary measures” be imposed upon the La Gloria mines in San Martin de Loba in the south of the Bolivar province as well as mines in Caceres, Antioquia in order to “try close the deficit in compensation for victims.”
The ruling slammed the Prosecutor General’s office for failing to advance a process to put the property in the hands of the State for nearly a decade.
“It is inexplicable that the Prosecutor General, having knowledge of the mine, with the dividends that it generates, did not advance the steps,” read the ruling confirming that it wasn’t until 2014 that an intervention against the mine was sought.
The mine at La Gloria had been in the hands of the Marxist-inspired ELN guerrilla group but was taken by the AUC in 2002 as 200 families were displaced from the area.
In 2004, the Grifos S.A company was founded with resources from the paramilitary organization, its largest shareholder being Roda Edelmira Luna, the wife of one of the Central Bolivar block leaders Carlos Mario Jimenez, a.k.a. “Macaco.”
While the involvement of the paramilitary group in mining operations at La Gloria was proved to the Bogota Tribunal, “these mines were not presented to the special justice and peace process, and as a result, their returns are not being integrated into the comprehensive reparation of victims,” read the ruling.
The demobilization of the AUC was initiated by former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe between 2003 and 2006 but has largely failed to bring justice and compensation to victims that were affected by the actions of the right-wing group.
As part of the process, the law of Justice and Peace was ratified in order to provide procedural and judicial benefits, including a maximum prison sentence of eight years and exemption from extradition to the U.S., to AUC members in exchange for their demobilization and cooperation.
However, in alleged violation of the law of Justice and Peace, several AUC leaders were extradited to the U.S. on drug trafficking and money laundering charges following their demobilization.
Victims were upset as the extraditions prevented AUC leaders from responding before Colombian justice for the tens of thousands of human rights violations instead of drug trafficking.
Despite the introduction of a “Victims Law” in 2012 that would entitle victims of Colombia’s armed conflict to compensation for their suffering, in the case of the AUC this has yet to be fully realized.
According to the latest report of the Victims Reparation Fund, in September 2016, the paramilitaries have only delivered just over $103 million in goods for reparation.