The Stark Reality of Poverty: A Worrisome Number for Colombia’s Peace Prospects (E)
[…] the agreement’s most formidable opponent is arguably neither a right-wing political backlash nor a shadowy militia group. It’s the stark economic reality of Colombia’s dirt-poor countryside.
That was laid bare once more this week, when the Colombian government announced that it has confiscated more than $98 million worth of assets from dissident FARC factions that have refused to demobilize and join the peace process.
What should be a proud moment for Colombian prosecutors was actually a sobering one. $98 million is a lot of money, especially in rural Colombia, and it may be the mere iceberg tip of the guerrillas’ war spoils.
If prosecutors are correct and the sum roughly corresponds to those breakaway factions, which account for about 500 of the FARC’s 7,000 fighters, that adds up to nearly $200,000 per rebel.
It’s yet another reminder that Colombia’s so-called “illicit economies” — drug trafficking, extortion and illegal mining — are astoundingly lucrative. They will remain so long after FARC ceases to dominate them, raising the possibility of a postwar peace marred by escalating criminal violence.
[ ] syndicates are actively recruiting FARC soldiers who aren’t happy with the peace process and don’t want to lay down their weapons, according to the government.
Martinez said last month that Colombia’s most powerful criminal gang, known as the Clan del Golfo or Los Urabeños, has been offering former FARC members salaries of about $600 a month. That’s more than twice the stipend demobilized rebels are eligible to receive from the Colombian government under the terms of the peace accord. The Washington Post