HomeNewsAnalysisUncertainty in Reintegration Camps, Another Challenge for Peace in Colombia
ANALYSIS

Uncertainty in Reintegration Camps, Another Challenge for Peace in Colombia

COLOMBIA / 1 NOV 2019 BY MARÍA FERNANDA RAMÍREZ EN

The murder of an ex-guerrilla in a Colombian reintegration camp has bolstered fears that the security of demobilized FARC fighters remains unassured, even at sites built to protect them.

On October 24, Alexander Parra, a former guerrilla who had served for 30 years within the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), was reportedly murdered by a masked gunman at the Mesetas reintegration camp, in the central department of Meta. While at least 158 former combatants have been killed since the 2016 peace agreement was signed, Parra was the first to be assassinated within one of these zones, known as Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation (Espacios Territoriales de Capacitación y Reincorporación - ETCR).

The murder of Parra, the husband of a local candidate for the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común - FARC) political party, shocked former combatants. Following this incident, President Iván Duque ordered security reinforcements to the ETCRs. But the damage to their reputation may have already been done.

There are currently 24 ETCR camps, housing more than 3,000 former FARC fighters. They were implemented as part of the 2016 peace agreement between Colombia’s government and the FARC to provide a space for former fighters to transition into civilian life.

The mandate for the camps -- which were meant to be temporary -- expired in August, but the government later announced that the spaces would be transformed into permanent facilities.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Peace Process with the FARC

On September 9, 2019, the government launched Decree 1629, which added functions to the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (Agencia para la Reincorporación y para la Normalización - ARN), the body in charge of reintegrating former guerrillas. The new functions included managing property that requires public forces, as well as the goods and services for those spaces.

InSight Crime Analysis

The ETCR camps, which are supposed to offer peace and security, are now in legal limbo amid a crumbling peace process. Ex-combatants living within them have reason to doubt that the camps can guarantee their safety.

While the government did issue a new decree for ETCRs in August, it did not provide many concrete answers. It did not specify a new date for when the camps' status would expire, nor did it establish a plan for their future usage and administration.

While the government has floated the idea that the camps would be converted into permanent settlements, this will not always be possible. Last May, it was announced that 11 ETCRs, close to half the total, would have to be relocated as they are currently in special zones where permanent villages are not possible.

And the government decree did not clarify whether the ARN would be in charge of finding new homes for the camps. This has only worsened unease among the communities that have turned these camps into their homes.

Uncertainty also surrounds the continued funding for the public forces that maintain security within the camps through the Police Unit for Peace Building (Unidad Policial para la Edificación de la Paz - UNIPEP), and the National Army’s Joint Strategic Transition Command (Conjunto Estratégico de Transición - CCOET).

SEE ALSO: Extrajudicial Killing Dims Hopes for Colombia’s Demobilized FARC

Meanwhile, former fighters have questioned the ability of public forces to protect them. This was evident to InSight Crime during nationwide visits to these camps.

For example, at the ETCR La Carmelita, in Puerto Asís, Putumayo, former combatants complained of constant threats to their security. Additionally, in Mesetas, demobilized fighters told InSight Crime that there is a high level of distrust regarding the capacity of the public forces to guarantee their safety.

Such criticism will only be heightened after Parra’s killing. Parra was also an ARN employee, showing yet again that those engaged in the peace process remain in danger.

In the case of the ETCR in Vidrí in the department of Antioquia, the government said that the camp's mission had been accomplished, leading to its closure. Authorities then appeared to disregard warnings that the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) was moving into the area at the end of 2017. In September 2019, the ELN took control of the area that the ETCR once occupied.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 23 DEC 2010

A U.S. government cable from Madrid, Spain, released by the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks and republished by InSight, says…

COLOMBIA / 26 NOV 2018

Reports about the prolonged visit of the son of alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán to Colombia’s city…

COLOMBIA / 19 MAY 2020

The Colombian government's latest offer of legal benefits to individuals of armed groups who surrender and face justice was met…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…