By Alfredo Molano Jimeno, CAMBIOColombia, October 29, 2022


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

“Peace With Legality” was essentially a military policy.

CAMBIO has analyzed more than 40 contracts by the Peace Fund during the previous administration, and found that more than 131,000 million pesos (roughly USD $27,300,000 at today’s rates) were spent on agreements with the Police, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

For the 40 years before Iván Duque became President, every administration attempted peace processes with illegal organizations. The administrative costs have come from the President’s account, which led, in 1997, to the creation of the Fund for Special Programs for Peace. However, the Duque administration broke that tradition and used the money intended for peace as petty cash for the Defense Ministry.

CAMBIO has analyzed 40 contracts for the Peace Fund signed between 2019 and August 2022 whose object was not to achieve peace, but rather to make war. They total more than 150,000 million pesos (roughly USD $31,000,000 at today’s rates) out of the nearly 300,000 million pesos (roughly USD $62,000,000 at today’s rates) allocated to the Fund. The money was spent, for example, to purchase cars and motorcycles for the Army and the Police; combat boats and other boats for the Navy; furnishings for military boats and police stations, drones, radar and satellite photos for georeferencing of illegal organizations and illegal plantings.

The excuse was “Peace With Legality” and the Zones of the Future program. There the then-President ordered implementation of a countryside stabilization strategy from an essentially military perspective. In 2019, the Peace Fund signed two contracts. The first was worth 1,154 million pesos (roughly USD $238,000 at today’s rates) and its object was the acquisition of “pick-ups to be used by the management of Interpol and Criminal Investigations and by the management of intelligence for the National Police”. The second one was worth 10,677 million pesos (roughly USD $2,202,000 at today’s rates) and was awarded to the Science and Technology Corporation for the development of the Naval, Maritime, and River-Based Industry (Cotecmar). This time the money was for the acquisition of “boats and floating naval artifacts” for “security and defense” activities. That means launches armed with submachineguns, something that doesn’t seem to be very much related to peace.

Then came the pandemic, and the Peace Fund, whose Director at that time was Juan Carlos Vargas Morales, had to restrict its spending. Even so, in 2020, there was money for the Armed Forces. The contractor from Cauca, Andrés Felipe Astudillo Sanjuan signed a contract for nearly 435 million pesos (roughly USD $90,000 at today’s rates) for the “preventive and corrective maintenance and improvements to leasable installations to be used by the Police and administered by the Metropolitan Police in Popayán.”

2021 was the year to push back against all that austerity. That year, Vargas Morales spent more than 77,000 million pesos (roughly USD $15,900,000 at today’s rates) on security and defense issues. With the National Police he signed a contract for 1,800 million pesos (roughly USD $371,000,000) to guarantee the transfers by the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, and Director of the Peace Fund. He awarded a contract for 11,440 million pesos (roughly USD $2,400,000 at today’s rates) for “furnishing river boats, maritime boats, and personnel”.

To the Colombian Air Force and to the Colombian Aeronautic Industry Corporation, S.A., he awarded a contract for 33,749 million pesos (roughly USD $7,000,000 at today’s rates) “to fortify air and space observation, vigilance, and aerial reconnaissance over the areas of implantation of the Strategic Areas for integrated intervention”. Another 31,000 million pesos (roughly USD $6,400,000 at today’s rates) were spent on purchase of communications equipment by separate contracts. In the same manner, nearly 3,000 million pesos (roughly USD $600,000 at today’s rates) went for cars, motorcycles, four-wheel all-terrain motorcycles, and even buses for the Army and the Police.

The Director of the Peace Fund also assigned a contract worth 8,651 million pesos (roughly USD $1,800,000 at today’s rates) for the purchase of “Shelter” tents and furniture for the command posts of the “members of the military at the Specialized Command in Cauca, in the municipalities of Miranda, Guachené, El Patía, and a military base at San Bernardino (Popayán)”. The purchase of boats and launches for the Navy in 2021 cost the Peace Fund13,498 million pesos (roughly USD $2,800,000 at today’s rates). In order to end the year, they bought 2,950 million pesos (roughly USD $606,000 at today’s rates) worth of “radiolocalization equipment” for technological fortification in the direction of anti-kidnapping and anti-extortion for the National Police, and they spent 1,724 million pesos (roughly USD $355,000 at today’s rates) for acquisition and setting up the Sucoba unique system for comparison of ballistics. This high tech software for identifying traces on bullets was furnished to the National Police. In 2021 the Peace Fund money also reached hangars, riverside housing, and even Police substations.

And in the last six months, to conclude his administration, Duque awarded eight contracts amounting to 20,079 million pesos (roughly USD $4,133,000 at today’s rates). Two were to buy electric cars for more than 2,500 million pesos (roughly USD $515,000 at today’s rates); another was 3,425 million pesos (roughly USD $705,000 at today’s rates) to acquire aerial and land geolocalization equipment; 3,113 million pesos (roughly USD $641,000 at today’s rates) for Peloton expeditionary tents. That contract went to mega-contractor Mauricio Dussan Medina, a representative of the Military Industries Company.

The Iván Duque administration that never made any effort to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict that the country has been experiencing was, in contrast, the one that spent the most money from the Peace Fund and used a magic word to justify operations costing millions, and this has never been explained in the way that Ocad Paz operations were.

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.