May 29, 2020

From the "false positives" to killing children, military scandals in Colombia

The killing of eight minors in a bombing of FARC dissidents that forced the resignation of Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero on Wednesday is the biggest scandal of the armed conflict since the "false positives" case was uncovered. and puts an end to controversial management.

Botero did not resist the pressure of public opinion that since Tuesday night expressed his perplexity over the serious allegations of Senator Roy Barreras about the concealment of the death of minors occurred two months ago in the department of Caquetá.


The effectiveness of military operations in Colombia began to be questioned at the end of 2008 when the "false positives" scandal was uncovered, a euphemism used to refer to executions of civilians by the military to present results to their superiors.

With that practice, the military cheated poor young people with promises of employment and then took them to places other than their residence where they were executed and presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

So far, the Colombian Prosecutor's Office has investigated about 5,000 cases of "false positives" involving some 1,500 soldiers and were committed between 1988 and 2014.

However, that scandal did not roll the head of the then Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, as it did this time with Botero.


The appointment of Botero, a 71-year-old lawyer who built his career in the business sector, was a major surprise from President Iván Duque's cabinet, given his inexperience in matters of defense and national security, but it was always said that he was chosen for the charge for being a hawk of uribismo, government party headed by former president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

The Ministry of Defense is one of the most important portfolios in Colombia because it has under its command thousands of military and police that carry the weight of the internal armed conflict, a structure that Botero, who for 15 years was president of the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco), failed to manage in the best way.

"It was clearly a bad choice, of a person who had supported Uribism in different campaigns but who knew little or nothing about the defense sector as demonstrated, not only with the facts denounced in the debate but since the beginning of his tenure as minister "Juan Carlos Ruiz, doctor of Political Science at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and professor at the Universidad del Rosario, in Bogotá, explained to Efe.

A curious fact is that Botero was born in Bogotá on April 9, 1948, the day the liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was killed, which triggered the so-called "Bogotazo", considered a framework of political violence that continues to bleed seven decades later to Colombia.


In the fifteen months in which he was minister, Botero was characterized by imprudence and lack of political waist in the management of public order matters, which from the beginning made him a figure discussed in Duque's cabinet.

Last April, when a corporal from the Army murdered the former FARC guerrilla Dimar Torres in cold blood in the troubled area of ​​Catatumbo, Botero was quick to say that the crime had been the result of a "struggle", but then it was shown that it was a homicide planned by a colonel.

Months later, when inhabitants of Puerto Carreño, capital of the department of Vichada, complained to the Government about the increase in insecurity, the minister responded that what happened were "minor thefts", mainly of the clothes that people washed and were "extended in some ropes for drying. "

On June 21, the community leader María del Pilar Hurtado, 34, and the mother of four children, was murdered in front of one of them on a street in Tierralta, in the Caribbean department of Córdoba, and the minister rushed to blame without evidence to the National Liberation Army (ELN), but the crime was committed by alleged paramilitaries.

With his resignation, Botero prevents the Senate from passing a motion of censure against him for the killing of the eight minors in Caquetá that would have made him the Colombian prime minister to be dismissed from office in this way.

. (tagsToTranslate) positive (t) killing (t) scandals (t) military (t) Colombia

Source link