In a failed attempt at a peace deal with the FARC guerrillas, Pastrana allowed the left-wing group a demilitarized zone the size of Switzerland between 1999 and 2002. The guerrillas used the safe haven to train and strengthen their troops and to cultivate coca. This zone included the municipality of La Macarena in the central Meta department, a region that still has a strong FARC presence.
In passing down a 40-year sentence to FARC member Victor Hernan alias “Martin” for the murders of seven people at the hands of the FARC in La Macarena on 24 and 25 February 2002, the judge requested charges to be brought against the former president.
According to the judge, Pastrana did not take the necessary measures to protect the inhabitants of La Macarena after making it a demilitarized zone.
La Macarena is also a suspected site of “false positives” killings, where government forces killed civilians and reported them as guerrillas killed in combat.