Location: María La Baja
Date Published: June 7, 2012
Translated by Amy Ness
Edited By Michael Hill
Although the Recovery Fund announced the payment of 8 billion, the victims of Mampujan feel deceived because aside from never having received a single cent, the Government decreased the amount by half without warning them.
Less than a week ago the Government – the Union of Victims – announced the payment of 8.3 billion to the victims of the massacre of Mampujan.
While the news was announced through all forms of the media as an accomplishment of the Government, the victims – who had not been notified of the decision – found out they would be paid half of the ordered repayment by the Court of Justice and Peace of Bogota that was later ratified by the Supreme Court.
In the midst of all the noise that provoked the news of the disbursement, the 1,444 victims of Mampujan, municipality of Southern Bolivar, did not manage to understand why they had made a decision that its leaders considered arbitrary and why they changed the rules of the game halfway through.
According to the sentence on April 27, 2011 by the Supreme Court of Justice, the 1,444 victims of the raid by Bloque Héroes (Coalition of Heroes) of Mount Maria of Mampujan that took place March 10 and 11 of 2000, were to be compensated 32 billion pesos.
In days past, the Recovery Fund, in representation of the government, announced the payment of a compensation of 14 billion pesos, or rather less than half of what had been decided earlier by the Court.
Iris Marín, director of the Recovery Fund, has assured that the Fund does not have sufficient resources to assume total compensation for what the Department of Agriculture had asked for to support budgeting the process. The resolution changing the amounts proceeded from this illiquidity of the Fund and the refusal from Minhacienda. Read The Tangle of the Compensation of Mampujan
“Despite the reasons of the institutions, the Government can not play today but not tomorrow. We have promised too many things and in the end the rights we reestablished weren’t worth the justice,” assured Gabriel Pulido, leader of the Mampuján community.
The situation is more severe if you take into account that many of the victims that would have benefited by the compensation asked for loans to invest in their crop and arrangements for their farms. “The Government generated expectations and we acted, trusting in the word of institutions. This worsens the situation of these people that lost everything who are now full of debt that they will not be able to pay,” affirmed Pulido in an interview with VerdadAbierta.com.
For the victims this change in the rules of the game not only casts doubt on the credibility of the Government in the case of Mampujan, but also on the whole process of compensation by Justice and Peace.
Due to being the initial test, the decisions made in the case of Mampujan will depend on the following processes of compensation. For this reason, the debate surrounding the completion of the promises of the State will serve as a test for the law of Justice and Peace.
Porfidio Vélez, voice of the victims of Jorge Iván Laverde, alias ‘The Iguana’, assured that what happened with the victims of Mampujan has put others waiting for compensation on alert. The worry now is widespread.
There is another element that the victims brought to their attention. While guaranteed less suffering and various economic benefits, they are reducing the amount of the compensations.
“If the law does not serve the victims, it should not serve the perpetrators either”, assured a leader of Mampujan consulted by VerdadAbierta.com.
While the excuses of the Government are running out, it is the victims who are paying for delays and lack of coordination between the responsible entities. For this reason, they have not discarded the idea of presenting themselves before international tribunals to resolve the conflicts that would result from broken promises from the Government in the compensation processes.
Truths halfway through the compensation
In the events of Mampujan where 13 farmers were killed and 1,500 people displaced, Úber Enrique Bánquez Martínez, alias ‘Juancho Dique’ and Edward Cobos Téllez, alias ‘Diego Vecino’ were sentenced. This resulted in a benefit of barely 528 million pesos to the Recovery Fund, or 1.5% of the total estimated by the Court.
It is in this context that the compensation of Mampujan entered into a stage of confusion, delays, and conflicts, causing the victims to wonder if it is impossible to receive their compensation.
The worry of the victims is not without reason. Confronted with the inability of the Fund to respond with 98.5% remaining amount to be paid and after the Treasury denied assuming the difference as part of the national budget, Bruce Mac Master, director of the Department of Social Prosperity, requested that the Council of State resolve this conflict that placed doubt in the viability of the compensation.
For Mac Master, if the existing 3,245 processes in Justice and Peace with the potential of 358,426 victims are taken into account with the fact that the Fund has up until now only 103,400 million pesos to compensate all of the victims, it will be impossible to continue with future compensations.
But for the Council of State, if there is not a firm condemnation against the State for these acts nor any direct responsibility for the acts, the Treasury will not be obligated to assume the complete cost of the compensation.
“The State and the criminals of Mampujan cannot be considered the same and therefore the Colombian nation is not responsible for assuming this sentence of compensation,” stated the judgement by the Council of State.
For this reason the Council recommended that the State subsidize the payment of the same amount that had been established for the administrative compensations in law 1448 concerning the victims and the restitution, which in general reaches half of those ordered in the sentence of the Supreme Court of Justice.
“The one responsible for the compensation should be the State. For what reason would it not have the obligation to respond if we are its citizens and the events occurred in its territory?” questioned Gabriel Pulido, voice of the Mampujan community who noticed that it is paradoxical that the perpetrators receive more benefits than their victims.
What brought attention to this case is that despite ‘Juancho Dique’ and Edward Cobol Téllez, alias ‘Diego Vecino’ being condemned, the law has not clarified the responsibility of the State with regard to the relation of the paramilitaries with the members of Malagana Battalion close to Mampujan.
According to two condemned paramilitaries, it was thanks to the complicity of certain members of this battalion that made the violent incursion on Mampujan possible.
The truth is that the State has not been condemned for this crime because the investigations against the soldiers have not advanced, and if in the future justice fails them – like it has in cases such as Mapiripan – in the end the State would have to respond, not as a subsidiary like the judicial sentence said, but rather as directly responsible.
For the lawyers of the victims and for the representatives of NGOs that accompanied the process, it is necessary that special attention be given to these investigations that fall to officials or members of security forces that collaborate with the self-defense forces in order to establish with the most clarity if there is or not any responsibility on the part of the State.
Faced with the decision from the Council of State, the Fund gave a resolution that redefined unilaterally – without notifying the victims or their lawyers – what should be paid to the survivors of Mampujan.
According to the original sentence, the relatives of those killed would receive 40 million pesos of compensation and the displaced victims 17 million; the new resolution decreased these amounts to 17 and 9 million respectively.
The lawyers of the victims affirm that what was proposed by the Fund is that the judicial compensation be replaced through administrative channels, undermining the authority of the Supreme Court of Justice.
For the victims, the problem is not that the compensations are being reduced, but that the government is not clear with them and ignores the utter lack of justice.
In agreement with Paula Gaviria, of the Union of Victims from the Department of Social Prosperity, the first 8.3 billion start to be paid this week to the first 789 victims that already have been identified. The idea is to identify the rest of the victims in the next month in order to proceed with the total payment of 14.5 billion pesos.
In order to try and negotiate this situation, the Compensation Fund has held various meetings in the past few day with the intent of reestablishing an environment of communication with the victims.
Gaviria has said that the intention is not “to take the victims for a ride, the previous sentence is still existent through the legal title. What needs to be discussed is the form used to pay the difference.”
Although for the representative of the Union of Victims it is already clear that the authorized 14 billion pesos will be paid, the idea is to pay the other 18 million in kind.
“This week and the following will be the beginning of decision making about the rest of the payment, we will proceed to evaluate the effects that every victim has suffered through the reduction of the amount of compensation. After finishing this process, the State will commit to giving out the difference, that is to say in investments and projects related to the security of the victims and projects for prosperity,” added the representative of the Union of Justice and Peace.
Nonetheless, for the victims the answer from the institutions is not satisfactory since it says the State should not assume the complete costs of the compensation because it was not determined responsible for the events.
“The community worked with the institutions during the entire seven-year process through considerable dialogue, generating a relation of confidence. We work with the departments, the internal government of Bolívar, the mayors and other internal institutions; however, there has never been clarity in the actions of the institutions. What is worrying is that the result of this case in Mampujan will affect future processes of compensation,” assured Tulio Maza, relative of one of the murdered farmers by the paramilitaries.
Victims drowned in a sea of laws and ordinances
As the victims saw it, this was the end of a long, seven-year path that had now converted into the beginnings of a new problem, as they are now not only victims of the conflict, but also of the paperwork and bureaucracy of the institutions.
When the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the failure of the Tribunal of Justice and Peace, the farmers of Mampuján thought that everything had ended and that they need only wait for their reparations.
However, everything did not go as planned, and following the decision of the Court was only the negatives of the Fund and deception in the process.
“Among the obligations of the State, it has hardly even rectified our dignity by maintaining that neither we nor or murdered relatives were guerrillas. Nevertheless, the reparation processes for land and individuals follow what we have seen,” said Gabriel Pulido, who added that the majority of resources used to formalize their lands have not been provided by the State, but rather from international cooperation.
For Tulio Maza the worst is that after the sentence ‘orphans’ remained, since authorities of accompaniment such as the Defending Council and the Office of the Judge Advocate General also believed that the problem with the process had arrived at a good ending point and ended its work in the middle of the compensation process.
In the midst of all this, the victims simply ask that the decision of the Court and the rights that were recognized be respected. This is the reason they are not in agreement with what the Government has proposed.
For the victims, the path continues to be dialogue and negotiation with the institutions. For this reason, they hope that the impositions and unfulfilled promises will end.
At the same time, the institutions responsible for the process, the Union of Victims and the Compensation Fund, have affirmed that they will not leave the victims alone in this process and that more than anything they will guarantee the participation of these people in all the decisions they will make.
“We were reunited with the leaders and knew that they had other expectations but they understood our reasons. For now we promise to give permanent accompaniment to all the victims,” said Gaviria.
Next Friday a meeting of a higher level will be held at the house of Nariño to discuss the controversial case of the Mampujan compensation, which will serve as a test for the government, law of Justice and Peace, and the law of the victims and restitution.
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)