The Colombian governmentâ€™s independent internal-affairs agency (ProcuradurÃa) last week released a very important evaluation of Colombiaâ€™s programs to demobilize and reintegrate former combatants, especially ex-paramilitaries.
The report presents several alarming statistics about the challenges that Colombia now faces. The Procurador General, Edgardo Maya, is on very solid ground when he criticizes â€œthe lack of a systemic vision of government responsibilities for attending to the demobilized population.â€
Thanks to CIP Colombia Program Intern Christina Sanabria for pulling these out of the Procuradorâ€™s speech and PowerPoint presentation.
- Estimates of the amount of land abandoned by people violently displaced by the paramilitaries range from 2.6 million hectares (ContralorÃa General, the government comptrollerâ€™s office) to 6.8 million hectares (AcciÃ³n Social, the presidencyâ€™s Social Action agency). That is, the estimated amount of stolen land ranges from an area the size of Massachusetts to an area bigger than West Virginia.
- The process of returning land promises to be extremely difficult. Seventy-six percent of the displaced owned land when they were forced to leave, but 69 percent do not have registered land titles.
- The land problem has been further complicated by out-of-date government databases of landholdings. Of 3,397 parcels for which there is geographical and socioeconomic information, 67% of them are out-of-date. In addition, there are contradictions among maps held by different state entities, which makes it difficult to establish boundaries and ensure the protection of indigenous territories and community-held land.
- 110,000 hectares of land confiscated from drug traffickers is slated to be redistributed; some analysts have proposed this use of seized assets as a potential means to resolve much of Colombiaâ€™s land-tenure problems. As of December 2005, however, only 18,000 hectares had been redistributed â€“ and only 7,873 of those went to displaced families.
- Estimates of the cost of paying reparations to victims range from the ContralorÃaâ€™s estimate of 8 to 12 trillion Colombian pesos (approximately $3.1 to 4.7 billion USD) to AcciÃ³n Socialâ€™s estimate of 12 to 21 trillion pesos (approximately $4.7 to 8.2 billion USD). Colombiaâ€™s entire annual Gross Domestic Product totals about 300 trillion pesos ($125 billion USD).
Status of the demobilized:
- According to the Ministry of Interior and Justiceâ€™s 2002-2006 recap, of the 40,879 guerrillas or paramilitaries demobilized during that period, only 28.5% have secured productive employment.
- 8,390 guerrillas or paramilitaries demobilized individually between August 2002 and November 2005. As of November 2005, 109 of these individual deserters had been killed. Of those, 62 were killed by common criminals. Twelve were killed by the groups to which they had belonged, and eight were killed while supporting security-forcesâ€™ operations (usually as informants guiding the troops).
- According to statistics from the Colombian government, since passage of the Justice and Peace Law (law 975 of 2005), 27,000 people have demobilized as both individuals and as part of group demobilizations. Less than one percent â€“ 212 individuals â€“ were children and adolescents.
- Three years after creation of the Program for Reincorporation to Civilian Life, productive projects are still very few. Between 2002 and August of 2005, only 1,280 projects were approved, covering only 35% of the total demobilized population.
- There has been an increase in homicides in the section of the northwestern region of UrabÃ¡ that had been under the influence of the â€œBloque Bananero,â€ which demobilized in 2004. The homicide rate has gone from 5.21 per 10,000 inhabitants before demobilization, to 8.11 per 10,000 afterwards, an increase of 56%.
Funds budgeted by the Colombian government for humanitarian aid to the demobilized and the displaced populations:
- Amount budgeted for 8,390 demobilized persons: 61 billion Colombian pesos (approx. $23.9 million USD), which allows for 7.2 million pesos per person (approx. $2,800 USD)
- Amount budgeted for the 1,146,746 displaced persons whom the government has helped: 752 billion pesos (approx. $294 million USD), which renders an average of 655,000 pesos per person or about 3 million pesos per family (approx. $250 USD per person or $1,200 USD per family).
- Ratio of former combatantsâ€™ aid to displaced victimsâ€™ aid: 11.2 to 1
(Source: National Budget and the National Planning Department, 2005)