( Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN Volunteer Translator )
Bogotá, February 20, 2014
Juan Manuel Santos
President of Colombia
Once again we feel angry and snubbed. It touches our hearts deeply. We are the MOTHERS OF SOACHA, whose sons were torn from us, kidnapping them and disappearing them after offering them jobs, just to massacre them in cold blood. These actions took place by the thousands over the length and breadth of the land, in incidents of barbarism that are misnamed “false positives”. These acts were committed by soldiers against impoverished men, women and children in the countryside and in cities. Today we are raising our voices of protest because we see links of corruption that involve the highest military commanders, buying the silence of those who murdered our children.
We have been fighting for more than six years to learn the truth and obtain justice from all those responsible for the crimes against our sons, a barbarity that is being suffered by the families of more that 5,000 victims of these murders in our country. It has constituted a shameful attack on our people by those who have the obligation to stand guard for our rights. The response to our struggle has been persecution and unceasing threats against us, and even so, we have decided, because of our love for our sons, not to hide ourselves, nor to be silent, until we achieve justice and the recovery of their good name.
This battle has not brought many results, because impunity continues to reign, in order to protect the victimizers and silence the victims. This situation is demonstrated in the recordings revealed by Semana, in which some of the murderers keep on committing crimes from within the prisons. They receive salaries, they enter into contracts, they go on vacation, they have parties and, with their superiors, they hatch schemes to sabotage investigations by the Attorney General.
Faced with these serious revelations, you, Mr. President, and your Minister of Defense, decided on a series of changes inside the institution. You relieved of their commands, among others, the Commander of the Military Forces, General Leonardo Barrero, saying “he is not leaving because of any act of corruption. He is leaving because of his disrespectful statements,” after he said: “don’t let those sonsofbitches prosecutors mess with you” about the prosecutors who were investigating the extrajudicial executions, in a conversation with Colonel Róbinson González del Río, who is implicated in several such cases. At the same time, he invited him to “get up a mafia to file complaints against them” and thus hold up the judicial process.
Mr. President: These statements are not “disrespectful”, as you called them. Rather, they are clear evidence that inside your military high command, corruption is part of the plot to stop the advance of the investigations and leave in impunity those most responsible for the deaths of our loved ones.
Because of what has been exposed, Mr. President, we demand the following of you and other authorities:
1. Immediately discharge Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón for his obvious negligence or manifest complicity in the lawless actions related to the crimes against our children, as much for the privileges that the wrongdoers have enjoyed in the military instalation, as for for their shameful eagerness to minimize the crimes.
2. Public acknowledgement of the seriousness of the statements of the outgoing Commander of the Military Forces, because even though you exonerated him of acts of corruption, they are evidence of the paramount responsibility of the military high command for the crimes against our children.
3. Order that all members of the military who are being held in Army installations for serious crimes be transferred immediately to ordinary prisons, and revoque all laws and decrees that provide them with privileges.
4. Create a commission of independent national and international experts to thoroughly investigate the whole accumulation of irregularities and crimes committed by members of the Armed Forces, whose recommendations would allow the imposition of criminal and disciplinary penalties on those responsible.
5. Discharge from the Army every person responsible for this criminal organization that threatens us, that threatens prosecutors, judges and witnesses, and that is attacking not only human rights but peace for Colombia.
6. That the Attorney General investigate swiftly the thousands of cases of the murder of our children who were presented as guerrillas, identifying and requesting the maximum punishment for those responsible
7. That national and international public opinion, and journalists, not leave us alone in our battle, that they do not resign themselves to measures that, instead of digging out the truth and supporting justice, add up to strategies of impunity deployed from the highest levels of the government.
8. That the Prosecutors in the International Criminal Court promptly open an investigation of those most responsible for the crimes against our children.
Mr. President, if we have to give our lives to search for that which the government is obligated to guarantee, we are disposed to accept that sacrifice, because our love for our sons conquers terror, and because we will not accept more humiliation from your government, covering up or rewarding the murderers of our loved ones.
For justice and against impunity, not one step backward!
Mothers of Soacha
María Ubilerma Sanabria López
Luz Marina Bernal Parra
Lucero Carmona Martínez
Copies to: Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited).