La Semana (Colombia), February 15, 2019
Translated by volunteer Deryn Collins
Through a video shown by Blu Radio, the retired general was ready to stand against Uribe, Pastrana, Santos, and Gaviria. He said that the delinquents in Colombia are “the Congress and the Presidents”. All of them have been involved”.
A year after gaining his freedom and taking refuge in the Jurisdicción Especial de Paz [Special Jurisdiction for Peace], the retired general Rito Alejo Del Río spoke and did not stop speaking until he left no puppet with a head. During a meeting in the Colombian Armed Forces Reserves Society the officer spoke against the ex-president Uribe, [current president] Iván Duque, [vice president] Marta Lucía Ramírez, and Juan Manuel Santos.
According to the video, which was shown Last Friday evening on Blu Radio, sections of the meeting, recorded on a cell phone, were posted on YouTube on February 5. Despite Del Rio assuring the radio channel that he did not remember when the events happened, he confirmed to various members of the Society that it is him speaking.
In the first minutes, the retired general referred to the Linderman Club, supposedly linked to the multimillionaire George Soros, “who are the members of the Linderman Club? We are going to see this. We are going to see this president, the shamelessness of [former president Andrés] Pastrana, the shamelessness of Martha Lucía Ramírez, Soros, [Luis Alberto Moreno, head of the Inter-American Development Bank], and many others and ourselves tricked.”
As the video progresses, the tone of the meeting and the qualifiers Del Rio uses increases. “I told some friends of the Democratic Center [Uribe’s party]: “Do not talk to me about the Democratic Center again and, believe me, I’ve been one of the most sacrificed to defend Álvaro Uribe Vélez. But I will not do it again. Here it has to stop. As it is possible that that scoundrel admits a meeting in Frontino (Antioquia) where members of the ‘Demonic Center’ (as they are now called) met with Pastor Alape and three other guerrillas (of the FARC) making agreements to put authorities [in the region],” he continues, enraged.
But this is not all. Despite his speech concentrating on the Colombian political class, it also refers insistently to the peace agreement that the government signed with the guerrillas and especially with the Comisión de la Verdad [Truth Commission]. "We met with the priest of Roux and another communist pest. He began to denigrate. Beside me, twenty generals. I looked around and asked myself why I had to get involved in everything. I speak of the Convivir, who were criminals. I let him speak,” said the retired general who is convicted of homicide and is being investigated for the crimes [i.e. the killings] of Jaime Garzón and Álvaro Gómez Hurtado.
He added: “I told him (Father De Roux) with all respect: they make the laws for us, they give us the orders so that we comply, they give us deadlines to comply with and, after [we fulfil] these orders, they tell us that we are criminals. But the criminals are the Congressmen, the presidents. They have all been involved. Maybe you did not realize what they did in the Search Block against Pablo Escobar. A mafia alliance, corrupt policemen, the Norte del Valle Cartel and the Pepes. We all know everything and someone has dared to denounce it.”
Within the framework of three years of operation, the commission, headed by the Jesuit Father Francisco de Roux, has held hundreds of meetings with victims and offenders in order to build an extrajudicial account of what happened in Colombia after 50 years of conflict. It is in this context that the meeting Del Rio would have participated in with the president of the Truth Commission is based.
“When I talk about that, they tell me: you are crying for the wounded. That is clear and the promoter was Cesar Gaviria and the defence minister was Rafael Pardo, a total guerrilla, a crap person. When one spoke of this and other subjects, (The Father) [was shocked]. I answered: I’m going to ask another question, Father: who is more criminal: the one who pulls the trigger or the one who makes him do it? Here, those who pull the trigger are all those organizations and NGOs that say they are working for human rights but, from the point of view of the military, cattle ranchers, and peasants there are no human rights. I will wait for [those whom you have accused] to [provide] the historical truth, [the Father[ told me, and I answered ‘as long as they hear and write down what I say, but since it’s not going to be that way because you distort everything, it’s going to be very difficult to be there,” says the general about the development of the meeting.
But that is not all. "Pastrana, after he called Uribe a thief and a paramilitary, ... and now they walk like, as it is commonly said here, as if they [are in love]", adds the general who is also at the ready to start fighting against the first six months of the new administration of government. "How can it be possible that [president] Duque, this scoundrel, appointed two nephews of Álvaro Leyva Durán to fundamental positions. That he has appointed González Monguí as [Director of the National Protection Unit for provide security to vulnerable individuals and communities] and that he has converted the National Intelligence Directorate into a fortress of resentful people who work more for the Left than for the institutions”, he adds.
Finally, he points out: "Who are we that are enduring this tragedy? They all promise but none of them comply." This scoundrel of a president that we have is the continuation of the previous one, how many promises he made but did not fulfill. Such as, that he was not going to raise taxes and look [now] at how they suffocate us. He was going to give us perks ... when he goes out to a region, he embraces the military and from behind ... I will not [finish that sentence] out of respect for the ladies. But whenever he can the scoundrel beats us”, he says after assuring that "we continue with the ratification of almost 76 percent of the high positions and posts that the shameless Juan Manuel Santos had, shameless rat, forgive the expression but there is no other. This man defrauded the country, he took the country, and he stole from the country.”
Del Río was found responsible in the first instance for the crime of the Chocoano leader Marino López in February 1997. The murder of the peasant was perpetrated after the incursion of a group of paramilitaries from the Élmer Cárdenas Block into the hamlet of Bijao-Cacarica in the jurisdiction of Riosucio. Two days before the paramilitaries arrived in the area, troops of the 17th Army Brigade, commanded by General (r) Rito Alejo, arrived at that place in order to retake what they considered to be an area where guerrillas were moving around with ease. Hence, the Prosecutor's Office alleged: "It is not conceivable that, in such a militarized zone, there would be a presence of the self-defence groups."
In the ruling, the accuser gave credibility to the testimony of four demobilized members of the Elmer Cárdenas Block: Diego Hinestroza, alias ‘The Grandfather’, Luis Muentes [alias] Baldy, William Soto [aka] Commander Soto, Rubén Darío Rendón [aka] El Lanero, and his commander, Freddy Rendón, [aka] German, who confirmed in his free versions not only the horrific death of the Chocoano leader but the complicity of the general. "It was a joint operation," they told the Justice and Peace prosecutor. In another proceeding against the ex-military man, carried out in October of last year, the Prosecutor indicated that Lopez's crime was committed to intimidate and displace the population of the area.
Rito Alejo del Río also, before being freed for his appearance before the JEP, had been answering, before the justice, for crimes that shook the country, being the murder of the humorist and journalist Jaime Garzón and the presidential candidate and conservative leader Álvaro Gómez Hurtado. However, all the accusations that exist against him fell under the competence of transitional justice, which may impose penalties of up to 8 years if it complies with the requirements of truth, justice, and reparation. And up to 20 if he fails to comply with the commitments.