Colombia Eyes FARC Finances Ahead of Peace Deal

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Authorities are investigating Colombia’s largest guerrilla group the FARC with an eye towards keeping rebel enterprises out of criminal hands, but conditions on the ground may derail this plan. 

Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre has launched a series of special investigations aimed at identifying the finances and revenue streams of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), reported El Espectador

For the next six months investigators will be identifying civilian collaborators and analyzing the FARC’s individual Blocs and Fronts to determine each unit’s finances and revenue sources. The end goal is to create an overarching map of the FARC’s financial structure ahead of a possible peace deal and guerrilla demobilization.

Montealegre said this investigation will create an “obstacle for the reorganization of holdouts who don’t agree with the demobilization process or for those who want to appropriate these existing illegal markets.”

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The Colombian government has been negotiating with the FARC since 2012 in Havana, Cuba and last September the two sides agreed to sign a final peace deal by March 2016.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Attorney General’s Office is showing foresight by attempting to identify and dismantle the FARC’s illegal enterprises before they can be reorganized under dissenting guerrilla members or outside criminal groups. Whether this can actually be accomplished, however, remains doubtful. 

On the one hand the chances of a peace agreement being signed look better than ever. While it is unlikely the two sides will hit their March target date, an agreement is expected to come in 2016. As a show of good faith the government recently released 17 FARC guerrillas from prison, and are planning to free 13 more by the end of January. Even more promising has been the Colombian government’s repeated refusals to extradite FARC leaders to the United States, where many are wanted for drug crimes.

SEE ALSO: FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

On the other hand a FARC demobilization would flood Colombia with a large quantity of rebel fighters, some of whom have decades of experience in criminal activities like drug trafficking and extortion. This, along with Colombia’s history of failed demobilizations of paramilitary groups, indicates some guerrilla factions will inevitably continue to run criminal operations even after a peace deal is signed.

Furthermore, narco-paramilitary groups known as BACRIM (from the Spanish acronym, “bandas criminales”) will be quick to capitalize on the FARC’s absence, with some groups having already begun encroaching on guerrilla territory. 

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