Colombia Seeks Victims of Civil Conflict to Offer Reparations

Ernesto Fidel Carpio, from Colombia, at his home in Queens. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Colombia is moving forward with its peace process with the FARC guerrillas, which includes financial reparations for victims of the conflict. For that reason, the country’s consulate in New York is calling on Colombians who endured abuse to register before June 10, the deadline to present their statements.

“People who consider themselves victims of the armed conflict after Jan. 1, 1985 – whether by agents of the State, the guerrillas or the paramilitary – have a right to be recognized as victims and, depending on the grievance, to compensation. They must reach out to the consulate in Manhattan or, for New Jersey, in Newark,” said Consul General of Colombia in New York María Isabel Nieto, adding that all paperwork may be filed from outside Colombia.

“They only need to give a statement that will be sent to Colombia to be verified, after which they will be enrolled into a dedicated victims’ registry, which will also give them the right to get their land back if it was taken from them. They do not need to travel to the country to do any of this,” added the official. “We know that nothing suffices in the midst of all the pain, but it is a gesture the State is making to recognize them, and that is important.”

The consul also explained that two delegates representing Colombians abroad will be selected soon from among the victims’ organizations that registered to join the national victims’ board, which will have the task of proposing public policy regarding the attention and treatment granted to victims.

Even when he admitted that the compensation will be very low, Ernesto Fidel Carpio, one of the 187 victims of the conflict who have registered in New York, called on those who endured firsthand the ravages of their country’s civil war to benefit from the reparations.

“It is important for people to claim this remuneration incentive, although I think that the government should have come to a broader consensus the way they did with the guerrilla leaders, because many of us left everything there and now we don’t have a pension or anything, as if we hadn’t suffered the uprooting,” said Carpio, who left his country in 2003 with his wife and three younger children after receiving death threats for his work as a union leader on the country’s Atlantic coast.

“They were following me. They would call me and say that, if they didn’t kill me, they would kill one of my sons to hurt me. I had to be locked in my house with bulletproof glass and couldn’t go out without bodyguards. It was not life; it was hell,” said the lawyer.

Luz Giraldo was also a victim of so-called “vacunas” – “vaccinations,” or extortion – by the FARC while she worked as a civil engineer in Colombia. She said that, while no amount would be enough for the victims, she continues to fight to receive compensation. “These reparations would signify at least a symbolic hope that we are recovering part of what was taken from us monetarily,” she said.

The consul said that Colombians lacking a defined immigration status in the United States have nothing to worry about when claiming their reparations.

“We don’t care about status; we don’t even ask about it. The only thing we need is their testimony, so that they can be included in the dedicated victims’ registry within 60 days and their payment can be processed. That takes a couple of months,” concluded the diplomat.

Figures

  • June 10, 2017 – Last day to register
  • 187 victims of the conflict have registered in New York
  • In 2017, the number of registered victims in New York has increased 50 percent.
  • 10,652 victims have registered abroad.
  • 984 victims have registered in the United States.
  • $5,000 is the average amount of reparations payments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*