Here is a translation (thanks to CIP Intern Stephanie DiBello) of Camilo GonzÃ¡lez’s grim assessment of the “Justice and Peace” process. Three years ago last month, Colombia’s Congress passed the law giving paramilitary leaders light sentences in exchange for full confessions and reparations to victims. GonzÃ¡lez, a former health minister and the director of Colombia’s INDEPAZ think-tank, published this piece in today’s El Tiempo.
The third anniversary of the passage of Law 975 of July 2005, inappropriately known as the â€œJustice and Peace Lawâ€, came and went almost unnoticed. The media’s attention was concentrated on other urgent items, such as the arrest of the President of the U Party [the largest pro-Uribe political party] and his transfer to jail to accompany other presidents of parties of the governmentâ€™s coalition and other former presidents of the countryâ€™s Congress.
The Prosecutor Generalâ€™s report is a good starting point for taking stock and asking the competent authorities about the outcomes of justice, reparation, truth or guarantee of non-repetition. Some of the figures are noteworthy: in three years no one has yet been sentenced; out of 3,431 people being processed for atrocities, only 9 have finished the confessions process. As of yet there is not one single victim who has been able to process his/her demands in a reparation proceeding, and not one peso from the perpetrators has been taken away through judicial sentencing.
Out of a total of 3.5 million paramilitary victims, only 147,000 were brave enough to enlist for some kind of compensation. Barely 10,500 of them were able to attend a hearing, without any result, and less than 2,000 have legal representation.
The 20 paramilitary heads who have given confessions turned in a paltry US$2 million and 99 farms (75% of the total money belonged to the â€œMellizoâ€ [narcotrafficker and sometime paramilitary leader Miguel Ãngel MejÃa MÃºnera, captured in May]). This contrasts with the US$5 billion accumulated by the narco-paramilitaries via narcotrafficking operations, the expropriation of more than 1.5 million hectares of land, and the appropriation of public funds in alliance with their “para-politician” partners.
And to give the complete picture, at the moment in which the internal fights among those being processed began evolving into denunciations of the government, Doctor Uribe considered it a high priority to get those paramilitary heads and guardians of the secrets of “para-power” out of the country, to be processed in the United States for some tons of cocaine.
The ex-narco-paramilitaries’ revelations about their partners in crime ended up being subordinated to the narcotrafficking proceedings, and their â€œtruthsâ€ turned into bargaining chips for sentences even lighter than those anticipated under Law 975.
The result of the extraditions show that Law 975/2005 was misguided from the start: it was defined as a law having nothing to do with narcotrafficking and crimes of government officials, and was intended to apply to narco-paramilitiaries by assuming them to be anti-subversive or quasi seditious. The most important proceedings abruptly ended when the situation got out of control and the government extradited them, recognizing that in essence they actually were narcotraffickers.
On balance there are, of course, documented statistics, some truths revealed, cases in the Supreme Court, an idea of the profundity of the barbarity, and a break with the strategies of dirty war. But in the red lies the battered goal of justice and peace. In this country so accustomed to the the law being something to be evaded … there is also a law of evasion.