Colombian authorities are stepping up efforts to track millions of dollars in insurgency assets stashed domestically and abroad.
Prosecutors say the value of assets seized in 2017 is more than $100 million, and they announced an international cooperation plan to locate assets the veterans are hiding outside of Colombia.
The authorities have established a legal cooperation mechanism with Central American countries and with the US State Department
“In these first months of the year alone, we have already managed to seize assets worth 300 billion pesos [around $105 million] and we are making progress on several processes regarding the extinction of the domain,” Attorney General Néstor Humberto Martínez said, referring to the confiscation of assets linked to illicit activities.
These operations are decisive for the implementation agreements between the Colombian government and the FARC, because one of the executive decrees, published at the end of May, stipulates that all the funds thus collected will be allocated to the victims.
Before August 1, the guerrillas must submit an inventory of their assets to the United Nations. And its more than 900 weapons caches will have to be dismantled before September.
“The goods and assets included in the inventory will be used for the material reparation of the victims of the conflict,” reads the text.
During the war, the FARC accumulated “thousands of urban real estate properties, thousands of rural properties, commercial premises, cooperatives, cash, automobiles”, said the attorney general, who also warned against the existence of assets abroad.
Accordingly, the authorities have established a legal cooperation mechanism with Central American countries and with the US State Department. A recent operation involved the confiscation of $450,000 stashed in a bank in Costa Rica, a sum that Colombian prosecutors attributed to the FARC. In addition, 3,400 assets were seized following court orders.
Three “serious violations”
Meanwhile, Colombia peace process the watchdog – the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism – detected three “serious breaches” of the agreements in the past month.
According to a report published on Tuesday, the first incident took place on May 10, when a member of the FARC allegedly tried to sexually assault two minors in the rural area of Vidrí, in the department of Antioquia. The administration’s high commissioner for peace, Juan Manuel Santos, said the incident had nothing to do with the surrender of the weapons and was “a matter before the ordinary courts”.
The second incident involved shots fired by guerrilla members against an army patrol that entered an area full of fighters. One of the bullets injured the left leg of a military officer. The third incident was a violation of airspace by a helicopter that entered the transition zone of Caño Indio, in the northern part of the department of Santander.
English version by Susana Urra.