The fund for Reparations for the Victims: Budget for the Victimizers, but not for the Victims

( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator )

Sent by : Colectivo de Abogados  “Jose Alvear Restrepo”
Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective

 (August 20, 2007)

While the national government has since 2005 been implementing hundreds of productive projects, training course, grant funds, agreements with economic groups, all with the goal of reinserting the demobilized paramilitaries, thousands of victims of paramilitarism patiently await the distant possibility that they will received economic reparations for the crimes against humanity committed against their loved ones, through the Fund for the Reparation of Victims, recently put into operation.
Despite this Fund, administered by the Presidential Agency for Social Action, does not have the resources with which to respond, not only because the paramilitaries themselves are wise to the fact that “they only have to give up or declare the goods that came from illegal sources” [i]  and have worked out all kinds of judicial maneuvers, among others front men, offering goods that have not been judicially cleared and the return of properties with productive projects in favor of the demobilized; but also because on the 26th of July the Fund for the Reparation of Victims “has only received goods of the demobilized Mister Manuel de Jesús Pirabán, alias “Don Jorge” or “Pirata”[2] , which are two farms, one of 910 hectares, the other of 955, three lots that are 200 square meters each, three campers, 152 creole bulls and two horses. [3]
Similarly to date the Fund has not had any income from foreign donations, nor from resources that would come from the national government budget to maintain it [4],   as does paradoxically the high Presidential Council for the Social and Economic Reintegration of Groups and Persons in Armed Revolt, which according to its director Frank Joseph Pearl González, has a budget of 294,000 million pesos [5]  [in US terms, 294 billion pesos, or about $147 million [USD-SC] as well as 40 projects with private support and the possibility that the United States will commit $51 million USD in the next three years.
According to the High Counselor, by January 31 of this year, the Accompaniment System indicated that of a total of 31,521 demobilized paramilitaries, 26,790 received some sort of benefit, among them humanitarian aid that amounts to 358 thousand pesos [about $129 USD—SC] per month, even if they are not attending workshops or courses. Of the rest, that is, 4,731, there whereabouts are unknown.
And although the talk is of a total breakdown of the reinsertion process, since apparently part of the first 5,276 million pesos [about$ 2.14 million USD- SC] invested in this process was lost, what is certain is that since 2005 the national government has been implementing what in its moment was called “Productive Projects for Peace” as part of the base for the creation of business projects in the area where there are massive demobilizations, that is, Urabá, the southeast of Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Tibú (in the north of Santander) Palmira, Córdoba and the south of Magdalena. [vi]  (6)
In effect, today of the 2,624 demobilized paramilitaries who should be employed in 41 economic projects in nine departments, less than a quarter remain connected to them. An example of this is the fact that despite the government’s paying out 600 million pesos [about $300,000 USD] for 300 ex-paramilitaries who belonged to the bloc of Hernán Giraldo to produce estevia un producto relativamente nuevo…], in July of this year there were merely five demobilized people cultivating the natural sweetener.[vii]  (7)
That’s how things are, an unprecedented situation that while the victims of the paramilitary groups have no real psychological support, or any humanitarian aid to be able to live and attend the statements of their assassins, while they struggle to get the money to maintain their families, the forced displacement that they have had to take on because of threats and persecution, the demobilized paramilitaries continue receiving—despite the complete fiasco of the process, in addition to the billions of pesos that have been lost—advice, information about health, education, psychosocial attention, job training, in whichever of the Referral Centers organized by the government for that purpose, like in the case of Antioquia.[viii]  (8)
So it is clear once again that the only beneficiaries of the decisions of the government under the Law of justice and Peace are the paramilitaries, while the victims continued being affected and victimized, in addition to the fact that they will only be beneficiaries of the Fund if they manage to participate directly in the reparation process, if they can come forward and prove that it was that paramilitary leader or bloc who committed the crime, if the particular case ended with a sentence, and of course if the reparation fund manages to get money to give them reparations.
Mancuso said it well, in an interview with El Espectador in 2005: “the productive projects and the full return to civilian life of the demobilized are generating an available flow for when we want to use them as a political trampoline.” [ix] (9)
In conclusion, to date there isn’t a singe peso for reparations for the victims, the fund is a pipe dream fund, and one more fraud added to the lack of truth and justice that would level the road so that the victims might appeal to the International Criminal Court or other bodies to look for truth, justice and reparation.

[i] <#_ednref1> Article 9 of Decree 3391 of 2006, which opposes the decision of the Supreme Court in their sentence C-370 of 2006.

[2] <#_ednref2> Response to the petition presented by the Legal Collective “José Alvear Restrepo” signed by the Technical Sub-Director of Attention to Victims of the Violence, of the Presidential Agency for Social Action

[3] <#_ednref3> Source: Office of the president, SNE May 25, 2007

[4] <#_ednref4> Reply of Social Action, July 26, 2007

[5] <#_ednref5> “We All have to Build this Country” El Espectador, December, 2006

[6] <#_ednref6> “Economic Projects of the ‘Paras’ Take Off” El Espectaor, March 13, 2005

[7] <#_ednref7> “The Reintegration of the Ex Paramilitaries are Now three Years Behind” El Tiempo August 11, 2007

[8] <#_ednref8> Where is the Reintegration process of the AUC Heading? For more information, see: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrador/Escritorio/desmovilizados/EN%20QU%C3%89%20VA%20EL%20PROCESO%20DE%20REINCORPORACI%C3%93N%20DE%20LAS%20AUC%20super.htm <file://localhost/C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrador/Escritorio/desmovilizados/EN%20QU%C3%89%20VA%20EL%20PROCESO%20DE%20REINCORPORACI%C3%93N%20DE%20LAS%20AUC%20super.htm>

[9] <#_ednref9> “Salvador Mancuso Says ‘The Ideal is to Create a national Guard’” El Espectador, August 7, 2005

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