(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The murder of Jaime Garzón
Wednesday, August 17, 2016, by “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers’ Collective
In order justice to be accomplished in Colombian society, which has been condemning the murder of Jaime Garzón for 17 years, the justice system will have to start by admitting that the criminal responsibility of the Reserve Officer José Miguel Narváez has been proved sufficiently. It must find him guilty of being the mastermind of the murder of the journalist and peacemaker.
Jaime Garzón was murdered with the same modus operandi that was used to attack Aida Avella, and was used to immolate Manuel Cepeda Vargas, Jesús María Valle Jaramillo, Eduardo Umaña Mendoza, Elsa Alvarado and Mario Calderón, and which was used to kidnap Piedad Córdoba, along with many more crimes that were carried out by government terrorism. It used José Miguel Narváez as an ideologue in the dirty war and as the messenger of the military command staff, and of the paramilitary chieftain Carlos Castaño who, for his part, hired the La Terraza gang. This is a crime that undoubtedly has all the marks of a crime against humanity.
When General Mauricio Santoyo had already begun the cover-up process and had begun heading off the investigation by exterminating that gang, one of its members admitted that they had carried out the aforementioned crimes and that the murder of Jaime was preceded by military intelligence work. That Carlos Castaño was a puppet on the string of the military high command, headed at that time by Generals Harold Bedoya and Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, and this last had issued the order to kill Jaime Garzón. (1)
If the Attorney General’s Office at that time had investigated what was going on, the charge by this spokesman of the La Terraza gang would have been crucial, not just to find out who was the decision-maker, who the men were who were behind this crime, but also to contribute to dismantling the inner workings of the dirty war and government terrorism in Colombia.
But on the contrary, the consolidation of the AUC paramilitary organization at a national level continued to be developed as a strategy of the military high command, along with the resulting massacres, selective murders, forced disappearances, forced displacements, tortures, sexual assaults and other crimes against humanity. In spite of the dozens of demands for certified documents from the Justice and Peace tribunals, so that there could be an investigation of the responsibility of the military high command, of businessmen and politicians who contributed to the development of that strategy and of their crimes, the Attorney General’s Office ignored them.
It should be remembered that the humanitarian efforts to promote the liberation of individuals kidnapped by the FARC or by the ELN were manipulated by the military high command to turn Jaime Garzón into a target of that paramilitary system. On May 6 of that same year General Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, Commander of the Colombian Army, asked before public opinion and the Anti-kidnapping Czar for an investigation of the participation by Jaime Garzón in the liberation of kidnapping victims. On June 4, 1998 the Anti-Kidnapping Czar praised the work of the journalist as a humanitarian activity, authorized by the government. Jaime tried to make contact with the General, but the General would not receive him. Finally, the journalist sent him a telegram:
“General, I’m not looking for enemies among the Colombians who are risking their lives every day to build a decent country, one that is great and in peace, just as I want it to be and as you are fighting for.”
But the order had already been sent out. And it came into the hands of Carlos Castaño, by way of José Miguel Narváez, whose trial for his participation in the murder of Jaime Garzón has just concluded. Narváez was recently found guilty of aggravated criminal conspiracy for the pursuit of those who, in the course of their duties, questioned the government of Alvaro Uribe Vélez (2).
Besides admitting his own responsibility, the paramilitary commander Diego Murillo Bejarano, alias “Don Berna” has repeatedly given testimony charging the participation of the War College instructor, José Miguel Narváez Martínez as the messenger who carried the Colombian Army orders on the people who were to be killed:
“After that happened Dr. Narváez paid a visit to Carlos and in my presence, they had an argument. Carlos was complaining about some political and ideological situations and he also ended up saying that there were many acts that he had committed because of him and that had not contributed to the instability of the conflict in Colombia. His exact words were, “what was the point of killing Cepeda Vargas or Jaime Garzón?” (3)
Contrary to all of the evidence, Narváez based his defense on his religious beliefs and the moral values that were part of that when he testified that he was a “Catholic, Apostolic, Roman, and sanctimonious” before the judge in Branch 7 of the Specialized Criminal Court in Bogotá, and also that he was the victim of a plot orchestrated by the DAS itself, the DAS that he had placed at the service of the dirty war. The special agent of Inspector General Ordoñez echoed his arguments, however. Rubén Darío Escobar, who filled in for the Inspector General’s Office just for this session, although the Office had taken part in the case all along.
The agent of Ordoñez ignored not just the testimony of Don Berna, but also the testimonies of the other paramilitaries and soldiers whose testimonies all through the case led to the conclusion of responsibility:
Also alias “El Alemán” (“The German”) had testified on the role of Narváez in the murder of the journalist, stating that: “What I heard Carlos Castaño say was that he (Narváez) had ordered the killing of Mr. Garzón at the request of some high-ranking members of the armed forces or some aides to the armed forces in the City of Bogotá.” (4)
The paramilitary Jorge Iván Laverde, alias “El Iguano” (“The Lizard”) for his part, identified the documents that José Miguel Narváez furnished to the paramilitaries about possible military targets, especially Jaime Garzón and Piedad Córdoba, emphasizing that the documents came from the Army and were used by Carlos Castaño to carry out the murder. (5)
Juan Rodrigo García Fernández, the brother of the paramilitary leader alias “Doblecero” (“00”), who had privileged information through his brother, not only stated that the defendant was a well-known ideology instructor for the paramilitaries, but also was the one who told Carlos Castaño to kill Jaime Garzón. (6)
Besides that, there is plenty of evidence in the file about the close relationship between Narváez and high officials of the armed forces. He himself, a reserve Officer in the Army (7) functioned as an instructor in the School of Intelligence and Counterintelligence attached to the Army’s 20th Brigade and for years was permanent professor in several sections of the promotion courses set up by the War College for Army officers and noncommissioned officers:
“José Miguel Narváez, at least between ’89 and ’94, every year during those years he was a Professor for these military higher education courses, for the staff course required for promotion to General and Colonel and also for the courses required for promotion to Major and Captain, and all of those courses,” stated retired officer Raúl Murial Botero. Also, when he was questioned about another instructor in the College, Antonio Borda, he added:
Question: “Could you state whether the thinking of Dr. Borda was very close to what Mr. Narváez had professed?.
Answer: “Certainly they had the same views, but Dr. José Miguel Narváez was more radical in my opinion. José Miguel Narváez was a person who used to weep over the books in this hands, he threw them to the floor, he was very passionate on the subject, extremely passionate, very emotional.” (8)
Narváez himself, in his trial for the killing of the journalist, corroborated that he regularly published articles in the Armed Forces Magazine (9), as well as in the Fedegán (Cattlemen’s Federation) Magazine (10) an organization for which he functioned as spokesman on a number of occasions (11). In those articles he principally attempted to deny the responsibility of the government for its serious violations of human rights.
At the same time, he also worked as an instructor for the paramilitaries, according to the testimony of alias ‘Don Berna”: “I think that the only thing that Mr. Narváez lacked was a bracelet. He made speeches and I particularly remember one that he titled ‘why it is lawful to kill communists’. He made those speeches at a place that is now called 21, located between Valencia and San Pedro de Urabá.
The closeness of Narváez to the military high command continues to be evident now when he continues to be “secluded” in the Army S School of Communications in Facatativá, in spite of the fact that the civil authorities in the case are insisting in his transfer to an ordinary prison. Many interests that are in play are continuing to buy the silence of José Miguel Narváez.
So that the legal system can serve Colombian society, which has been condemning the murder of Jaime Garzón for 17 years, it needs to start admitting the proven criminal responsibility of reserve officer José Miguel Narváez and find him guilty as mastermind of the murder of the journalist and peacemaker. For his part, Narváez ought to break his pact of silence so that the country can know the truth about this crime, with all of its indelible impact. The peace that Jaime Garzón was working for, educating for, and fighting for ought to honor the truth of the victims and understand its basis, so that the crimes of the Colombian government are never repeated.
- See Notebook 19, page 145. Transcription of the video “Banda La Terraza” (“Terrace Gang”), documents obtained from the Information and Analysis Section of the National C.T.I. (Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Group).
- José Miguel Narváez Martínez was sentenced to 94.5 months in prison by Branch 6 of the Specialized Criminal Court for having contributed, first as an assistant and later as Deputy Director of the DAS (Administrative Department of Security) to changing the institution into political police to persecute anyone considered to be a critic of the Uribe administration. He was found guilty of aggravated criminal conspiracy, by bringing his concepts of “Political War” to the DAS and by persecuting defenders of human rights.
- As indicated in testimony provided on September 17, 2009, in a file retained in Notebook 28, page 99 and following.
- Testimony of Freddy Rendón Herrera, given on August 26, 2009.
- Testimony on July 7, 2008, Notebook 24.
- Testimony of Juan Rodrigo García Fernández given on January 27, 2009.
- Graduated in 1990 from the Comprehensive National Defense Course (CIDENAL is the Spanish acronym.) in the War College.
- Testimony of Raúl Hernán Muriel Botero, September 20, 2010, file No 1942, Notebook 34, page 234.
- See, among others: NARVAEZ MARTINEZ, José Miguel, “Political War as a Complete War Concept”, in Armed Forces Magazine, Volume LII, No. 162, Bogotá, March 1997.
- According to information supplied by José Miguel Narváez hi
- mself during his investigation.
- The current President of FEDEGAN, José Félix Lafaurie, manifested hissupport of Mr. NARVAEZ: “José Félix Lafaurie, president of Fedegán, told the AP that the events that are imputed to Narváez ‘are not entirely clear to me’ and that the former Deputy Director of the DAS “can count on the support of Fedegán until they find him guilty, if it turns out that they find him guilty”. In: “Narváez, the economist who is the key to the paramilitary phenomenon in Colombia”.