By Patricia Lara Salive

El Espectador, Sunday, January 16, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

There are so many rotten apples that it’s starting to look as if the rotten part may be a good portion of the Colombian Army, an institution that is so very important for this country.

As was noted in an editorial in El Espectador, referring to the revelations in Semana magazine, “members of the Colombian Army have lied to this country, have illegally intercepted the communications of justices, politicians and journalists, have used tricks to cover their tracks when they were investigated by control agencies, and have made threats to keep from being exposed.”

And the editorial added more discoveries by Semana: they have listened in on the person responsible for the Supreme Court of Justice investigation of Senator Álvaro Uribe; they have passed information obtained illegally on to a member of the governing party; they have made profits using government money; they have murdered ex-combatants like Dimar Torres; they have issued directives that could lead to the return of the false positives which, thanks to the story in The New York Times, they had to retract; they have offered money and carried out lie detector tests trying to locate the apples that aren’t rotten and so talked to the press about the horrifying deals for permits to carry weapons; they have diverted gasoline for their own use, etc. etc. etc. And what has happened? In many cases, as established by La Silla Vacia (The Empty Chair) web site, some of those responsible have been promoted by President Duque.

But these things still keep happening: on Saturday, an hour before Duque was to arrive in Bojayá, Colonel Darío Fernando Cardona, Commander of the Titán Joint Task Force, sent social leader Leyner Palacios, who has complained that there is connivance in Atrato between certain of the military and members of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), a petition in which he demanded, among other things, that Leyner give him the names of the members of the Armed Forces who had done the conniving and the place where those illegal acts had occurred. And he added that Leyner should identify the communities that, in his view, are confined by the presence of illegal groups in the area.

To file this petition, the Colonel invokes the Constitution, where it says that “every person has the right to present respectful petitions to the authorities”. But how could he do that? What that provision means is that the one who could file a petition would be Leyner, to ask the Colonel why his unit is ineffective in the fight against the AGC. Not to ask Leyner.

Colonel Cardona’s petition is illegal and intimidating, because in the future it will make the people afraid to make complaints. And it is worrisome because he seems to feel very officious and yet supported by his superiors.

What will Duque do with the ineffective Colonel that intimidated a social leader that way, a leader he particularly wants to protect? And what is he going to do about the other soldiers implicated in the crimes uncovered by Semana?

To save his beloved patient, a good doctor will cut out his cancer right away, without leaving one single bad cell inside him. The President can’t wait for the authorities to take years to sentence the guilty ones. At the least indication of corruption or criminality, Duque has to fire the suspects. Because if they feel that he supports them, or if the President pays no attention to the seriousness of what happened, and doesn’t carry out the delicate surgery required, the cancer will metastasize, and his beloved Army and country will collapse.

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