montecasino mansion
This Montecasino Mansion is one of 1,600 properties with a bloody past. Image – BBC.
  • 1,600 seized properties are for sale on a website set up by the Colombian government
  • Proceeds from the sale are to go to more than seven million victims of armed conflict
  • Only a dozen properties had sold since 2018; already 10 have sold in the past month

Selling real estate can be hard at the best of times, but imagine if you were trying to sell the former houses, apartments, plots of land and farms formerly owned by Colombian drug lords and paramilitary groups?

What if some of those properties are located in rural areas, still considered dangerous?

In order to recover some reparations for victims of violent crimes, the Colombian government has set up an online real estate site offering for sale 1,600 properties. Proceeds from the sale are to go to more than seven million victims of armed conflict.

Some of the houses and apartments are becoming very hard to sell. Only a dozen had sold since 2018, hence the government decided on a new approach.

montecasino mansion
Inside staircase at the Montecasino Mansion. Image – Yahoo

The message is now more about transparency (they are what they are, after all) with the onus on finding buyers so the victims can be helped.

The new site, Bienes FRV, advertises the properties, worth a collective US$140 million.

“The fund needed something like a real estate service,” said Mr Avendaño, who heads up the Colombian Victims’ Unit.

“We can’t just lag behind because there were so few sales and rentals. [Having this service] means more resources for victims.”

Montecasino Mansion
Police at the Montecasino Mansion. Image – Rio Times.

Many of the properties are located in regional areas where the conflict still rages five years after FARC guerrillas signed the peace deal with the government.

Understandably, some of these properties are especially hard to shift, and there have been stories of new owners being forced out of the homes. Others, in cities, are in safer areas.

On the Bienes website, there are documents to download that explain how the monies are to be sent to victims of the former inhabitants of the seized properties. Since going live last month, ten properties have been sold, so already things are starting to move.

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