Monday, October 23, 2017

A Gilded Cage for Bacrims

Members of the Usuga clan wanted by police.
The sweet deal and near impunity given to FARC guerrillas was a big reasons why voters rejected the peace deal in last year's referendum.

Yet, now, criminal bands, called bacrims, might receive similar treatment.

Under rules being prepared by the government, such criminal bands, which get rich thru narcotrafficking, extortion and illegal mining, would be able to keep 5% of the dirty money they turn in. And considering the profitability of their illegal operations, that 5% could still be a mountain of money. And we'll never know how much more money those groups have buried underground or hidden in offshore bank accounts.

Not only that, but some of the bacrims' other ill-gotten gains will be spent on...the bacrims themselves, in job training and business development.

Wonder how the victims feel about that.

Unlike the deal with the guerrillas, the bacrims' members are supposed to go to real prisons. We'll see how long they spend there. Even so, they also get a 40% reduction in their sentences.

The proposed rules offer the deal to criminal organizations which have a 'unified command structure,' 'control territory' and 'utilize violence against state forces or the civilian popuation.

The groups must also must carry out cross-border crimes such as trafficking people and weapons.

In other words, the worse you are, the more benefits you get.

The government's urgency to make deals with violent criminal gangs such as the Usuga clan is understandable. After all, defeating them is extremely difficult - and whenever one is destroyed, another pops up.

But how far should the government go in allowing impunity for such groups, a policy which almost amounts to a de-facto legalization of their crimes? And in a nation in which ex-paramilitaries and ex-guerrillas are walking free after little or no punishment, how much impunity can public morality tolerate?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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