Condemned paramilitaries and para-politicians have not been handing over their money and assets to Colombia’s Victim Reparation Fund as ordered by the court.
Statistics of the Victim Reparation fund are jaw-dropping; Of $650 million owed by victimizers in Colombia, only $1.5 million has been paid.
Money owed to Victim’s Reparation Fund
Estimated cost of victim reparation
Money owed by victimizers
Money paid by victimizers
Money owed by parapoliticians
Money paid by para-politicians
Official estimates put the cost of reparation for all of Colombians six million victims at $27 billion. The victims’ fund has only received $100 million in a decade, according to El Tiempo newspaper.
Former commanders of the dismantled AUC paramilitary umbrella group owe the most money to the fund, but have simply not been paying.
There are 462 paramilitaries and 353 sentenced FARC guerillas that have not paid a single peso to the victim’s fund.
The reparation of victims has been declared a primary goal in the Rural Reform accord of the government peace negotiations with the FARC in Cuba. However, these evident problems that are presenting themselves before a signed accord brings into question the ability of the state to carry on even more responsibilities.
A common way for paramilitaries and their aligned politicians to pay off the fines imposed by the Colombian justice system has been to hand over vast tracks of land that they have in their possession, most likely through the turmoil and chaos of the civil war.
Thirty-one politicians owe the Victim Reparation Fund over $53 million, however, only one of those convicted has paid.
According to El Tiempo, only one para-politician has paid so far:
- Hugo Aguilar has made two payments of $250 to the Victim Reparation Fund towards his fine of $3.2 million dollars. At the rate of $250 a month, the former governor of the state of Santander will pay off his debt in just over 1,000 years. Aguilar was condemned for parapolitics in 2013 and is serving nine years in jail. Aguilar has one son who is currently a senator in Colombia’s congress and another son who is governor of Santander.
Some of the para-politicians who have not paid:
- Oscar de Jesus Suarez owes $3.5 million. Suarez was a senator from Antioquia was arrested in 2011 and condemned in 2013 for ties with paramilitaries. Suarez’s sister, Olga Suarez is a senator and the family continues to be one of the strongest political forces in Bello.
- Javier Caceres owes $3 million. Caceres use to be congress president, was arrested for para-politics, and has recently been released. Despite being condemned to nine years in prison in 2012, Caceres got out of jail in July of 2014 because he “complied with most of his sentence,” just not the fine or time aspect of his sentence.
- Luis Alberto Gil owes $1.8 million dollars and has been released from prison without paying a single peso to the Victim Reparation Fund. Gil’s wife is currently in Colombia’s congress.
- Libardo Simancas owes $900 thousand dollars and has not paid money to the victim’s fund. Simancas counted on support from paramilitaries bosses like Salvatore Mancuso, Uber Banquez Martínez, and Iván Roberto Duque to win the election for governor in the state of Bolivar.
- Jorge Aurelio Noguera owes $1.7 million. Noguera was the former director of Colombia’s intelligence agency under Alvaro Uribe. In 2011, Noguera was condemned to 25 years in prison for leaking information to paramilitaries in Colombia and homicide.
Reparation in the middle of armed conflict
To date, the government Victim’s Agency has invested $27.2 million into the reparation of victims, which is to say the the Victim’s fund. The money given by demobilized paramilitaries under the Justice and Peace Law, properly known as Law 975, only accounts for 6.8% or $1.5 million of reparations.
Juan Camilo Morales, the director of the Victim’s Reparation Fund said in an interview with Verdad Abierta that problems of security still exist in many regions. Three months ago, a official from the Victim’s Reparation Fund was threatened by phone call for the first time. The threat came days after a victim who was given land in Cordoba taken by paramilitaries, was murdered.
Lack of coordination between government agencies
When asked why it was so hard to collect the fines, Morales told newspaper El Tiempo that “there is the need for cooperation between institutions, to persecute of the goods and lands of those who conspired with paramilitaries with the same intensity that the government looks for the paramilitaries. We know that the Prosecutor General has confiscated a great quantity of goods of people with links to armed groups and those properties should go to the Victim’s Reparation Fund.”
Morales made it key to point out that many government agencies are managing the reparation of victims, the legal aspect with the convicted criminals, and the enforcement mechanisms. “We need to work towards common goals with other agencies […] because even though we are the same government, each agency has different goals,” stated Morales in his interview with Verdad Abierta.
Morales emphasized that a police presence is needed to ensure the security of the populations that return to land that was one in the hands of dangerous and still-active paramilitary groups.
- Solo el 6,8% de reparación a víctimas se ha pagado con dineros de desmovilizados (Verdad Abierta)
- ‘Parapolíticos’ le están haciendo ‘conejo’ a la reparación de víctimas (El Tiempo)
- En libertad el excongresista Javier Cáceres, condenado por ‘parapolítica’ (El Espectador)