Neither False nor Positive; By the State and Against the People

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

The false positives appear in the national media phantom as something new and exceptional, a product of the war’s degradation and the Mafioso alliances among military figures and between them and groups of drug traffickers and paramilitaries. Really, this is about a series of atrocious acts within the dynamic of this eternalized war, but it is absolutely false to affirm that these are new and exceptional cases, or that it is a question of isolated actions of a few “rotten apples” within the military forces. The war that has been fought in Colombia since the 40s, or if it is seen with a larger look back, since The War of a Thousand Days, or even since the Wars of Independence, has been characterized, especially in its recent manifestation, by the forced involvement of the civilian population in combat actions by all the armed groups, especially the agents of the State.
We may speak of a declaration of war against the civilian population of Colombia since the publication and carrying out of the LASO plan (Latin American Security Operations), that in May of 1964 began to be carried out from the United States against rebellious groups of campesinos that, since “El Bogatazo,” had gone into the forest organized as self-defense groups and that represented the threat of communism in Colombia, with the influence of the young Cuban revolution. In this context, President Guillermo Leon Valencia carried out the instructions of the Pentagon to the letter in order to begin the strategy of “taking the water away from the fish,” a reference to the fact that the affinity of the civilian population for guerrillas was what assured their subsistence and that, therefore, if this support were attacked, the fish would die. The abuses of the campesinos in the villages were not long in coming, independently of whether or not they were sympathetic to the guerrilla project.
Currently, false positives are employed as war propaganda to affirm the triumph of the government over the insurgency. It’s a question of theatre, prepared by the military forces and sponsored by the great communications media, allies of the economic and political elites of the country, in which those parts of the war are reported that give an image of efficiency and strength of armed forces that had lost prestige. The most well-known form of false positives is extra-judicial execution, which puts onto the stage innocent individuals who are disappeared from their homes, murdered and disguised as guerrillas, in order to be presented as brought down in combat in distant areas of the nation.
Another of the methods used to create false positives are attacks using car bombs or other explosive devices carried out by soldiers in alliance with drug trafficking groups or with their own network of informants, among which we find the “attack” on the El Nogal Club (February, 2003), and the bombing in the Advanced War School (October, 2006). A third method includes accusing the insurgency of acts committed by third parties; an illustrative case is that of the massacre of San Jose de Apartado, carried out, according to the results of the investigation carried out by the prosecutor, by paramilitaries in collaboration with soldiers of the XVII Brigade.
A situation of such magnitude, which involves the daily violation of human rights and International Humanitarian Law on the part of the State, puts in “check” a civil society already worn out and bloodied by the war and with little confidence in governmental structures.  As opposed to generating a climate of reflection and common solutions for political and economic problems, the government is permanently striking blows at the people, denying them their fundamental rights and fooling them through a media show organized in such a way to not allow people to be moved by any single news story because there is always another even worse story being published.
The double standard of the Uribe government has no limits.  On the one hand, it promotes the organization of the network of informants and the payment of juicy rewards in exchange for information that permits the capture or execution of members of the guerrilla forces. On the other hand, soldiers involved in cases of false positives are condemned.  And yet, the troops are permanently pressured to produce results, that is to say “positives,” in exchange for promotions, leaves, medals, etc. What kind of government offers money in exchange for increases in the numbers of executions committed? How is it possible that to get that money informers invent attacks, accuse innocent persons and find support for this among members of the army?
The figures are alarming: from the middle of 2002 to the middle of 2007, there were some 955 cases of extra-judicial execution at the hands of the Army reported in 22 of the 33 departments of the country; between 80% and 90% of the cases were that of civilians presented as guerrillas killed in combat. In the period of Democratic Security so far, more than 1,015 cases have been reported.  This number does not take into account the innumerable testimonies of families and victims silenced by the terror of a government skilled at buying consciences, silencing minds and making evidence disappear.
Therefore, the Human Rights Observatory of the University of Caldas is joining the national protest against false positives in memory of the victims, out of respect for the families and because we believe in having a right to know the truth. A society cannot be built on a foundation of deceit and violence, we demand justice! The voices of our murdered and disappeared friends and colleagues cry out for us to pay our respects by taking action on their behalf.
Human Rights Observatory of the University of Caldas
Published by Salmon;

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