Colombia’s FARC rebel group included footwear and orange juicers in the list of assets it will hand over for victim reparations, drawing ire on Thursday from officials who maintain the guerrillas have extensive criminal wealth and sparking the government to announce a special verification commission. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed under a 2016 peace deal with the government to hand over all funds and property to pay reparations to victims of forced disappearance, rape, displacement, kidnapping and land mines.
The group has for decades extorted landowners and business people, earned ransoms from hostage takings and sold coca, the base ingredient in cocaine, to drug traffickers.
Officials said on Thursday that the list, which was originally given to the United Nations and has not been made public, included many items that have little or no monetary value and made a mockery of victims. “Pots, orange juicers, lemon juicers, plates, boots, which will be depreciated and don’t have a commercial value and which above all will not be a source of reparation for victims,” Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez told journalists. Martinez added the full list should be released.
The list will be reviewed by a special commission in a bid to find missing assets, verify their origin and decide how they will be managed, the government said later on Thursday. “Those assets which have not been inventoried and are later discovered will obligatorily mean punishment and an ordinary justice procedure against members of the FARC,” justice minister Enrique Gil said.
All assets will be directed toward victims’ reparation, interior minister Guillermo Rivera added, and not to reintegration programs for the FARC fighters themselves. Colombian officials have previously accused the FARC of possessing large amounts of cash, as well as ranches, businesses and luxury homes, including some located abroad.
A lawyer representing the FARC, Enrique Santiago, told local radio that the group had not earned an income in years and had to spend extensively to maintain its more than 7,000 fighters, after calling off kidnappings and extortion during peace talks. The rebels finished handing over more than 8,000 weapons to the U.N., which oversaw their demobilization, earlier this month. On Sunday the group will kick off a conference that looks set to cement its transition into a political party.