Colombia's FARC delivers a fraction of pledged peace deal assets by deadline

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s demobilized FARC guerrillas have delivered just a fraction of the assets they had pledged to compensate conflict victims in the four years since they signed a peace deal, the government said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Former guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) participate in a protest called "Pilgrimage for Life and Peace" demanding security guarantees and compliance with the peace agreements signed with the government, in Bogota, Colombia, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez/File Photo

Colombia signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at the end of 2016, which ended the rebel group’s part in five decades of conflict that has left more than 260,000 dead and millions displaced. After disarming, the FARC became a legal political party using a different name with the same acronym.

Under the deal, the FARC agreed to hand over around 1 trillion pesos ($291 million) in assets taken during the conflict by the end of 2020. However, the former rebels have delivered just 44.4 billion pesos ($12.9 million) in local currency, dollars and gold, according to the government - a number that was confirmed by the FARC.

“It’s an issue that greatly concerns the government, not just because of the amount of resources we’re talking about, but because the FARC’s ill-won assets were destined to compensate victims, which would have an impact on reconciliation,” Emilio Archila, the presidential adviser for implementing the peace deal, told Reuters.

The FARC attributed the shortfall to the government failing to do its part to help implement the deal, and threats to former guerrillas - of whom 249 have been killed since the peace deal was signed. It also cited illegal armed groups taking over territories it formerly controlled, among other reasons.

“Our willingness isn’t in doubt, we won’t renounce our commitments,” Pastor Alape, a delegate from the FARC political party, said in a statement in which he also requested an extension to the compensation deadline.

Alape’s comments were dismissed by Archila.

“When the date was decided, we established not only the deadline but also the means (to deliver the assets),” he said. “There is really no reason to have a new deadline.”

In addition to money and gold, the FARC said it has handed over infrastructure, including roads and health posts they constructed in areas in which they operated, as well as livestock and weapons.

The government said such infrastructure - which would be equivalent to half the total amount the FARC promised to deliver - cannot be converted into money to compensate victims.

Some 9 million people have been registered as victims in Colombia’s armed conflict, which involves leftist guerrillas, former far-right paramilitaries, and criminal groups associated with drug trafficking.

($1 = 3,432.50 Colombian pesos)

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra, Writing by Oliver Griffin, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien