Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where are the FARC's Million$?

Drugs illegality means fortunes for violent, illegal groups.
FARC leaders have, belatedly, apologized for the many horrors they committed against Colombia's civilians, such as the more than 100 Afrocolombians murdered in the Bojayá bombing, and the 12 deputies from the Valle de Cauca kidnapped and massacred, both in 2002.

But the FARC have never come clean about the whereabouts of the fortune they obtained from extortion, drug trafficking, illegal mining, which could serve to compensate some of their victims, and the peace deal signed yesterday doesn't require them to.

The fate of the FARC's illegally fortune has been one of conservatives' biggest criticisms of the peace deal. The guerrillas historically controlled at least a third, and perhaps much more of Colombia's cocaine exports, according to U.S. anti-drug officials. They also control illegal mines and extort ranchers. But where are those millions?

Historically, Colombia's illegal armed groups have buried their money, invested it in land and
businesses under false owners or hidden in in foreign banks. In 2003, Colombian soldiers found some $20 million in cash buried in the jungle, apparently by the FARC. They blew that fortune on prostitutes, alcohol and fancy motorcycles.

In a few years, expect to hear about ex-guerrilla leaders fulfilling their revolutionary values by buying BMWs and mansions with money of unclear origin,

It's hard not to observe that the guerrillas would have lots less money - and likely caused lots less harm - if cocaine were legal and exported by legitimate, tax-paying businesses.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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