EL ESPECTADOR, November 9, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The suspicion about the attempts to torpedo the peace process during the term of Néstor Humberto Martínez as Attorney General have just come back stronger than ever. Thanks to an investigation by Edinson Bolaños in EL ESPECTADOR, now we know that, in spite of having 24,000 audios of intercepted phone calls of Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich, the investigating agency only sent 12 to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). That helped to worsen an institutional crisis that ended in the intemperate resignation of Attorney General Martínez. Besides that, the audios raise new questions about the work of the DEA in Colombia, the internal functioning of the Attorney General’s Office under Martínez, and other key aspects. What’s sad is that Colombian institutions and foreign institutions that operate in this country are not behaving at the level at which is required of a government under the rule of law.

The audios and the documents revealed up to now by EL ESPECTADOR prove a number of things. First, that the Attorney General’s Office was taking part in a delivery of drugs, in spite of the fact that former Attorney General Martínez denies it. Second, it proves that the DEA was carrying out an entrapment operation against the negotiators of the guerrillas’ peace negotiations. Third, that the Attorney General’s Office refused to collaborate with the JEP at a critical moment, in the midst of the attempts by Martínez to discredit the Transitional Justice System. Fourth, it proves that the names of actors in the peace process, like former Vice President Naranjo or former Senator Piedad Córdoba—obviously impersonated in a conversation–, were used in a bizarre manner in the operation by the undercover DEA agents. Why didn’t anybody explore a matter of such national relevance?

Let’s get an obvious response that this editorial is going to arouse out of the way: No, no we are not defending either Santrich or Márquez. They are criminals that betrayed our country, betrayed the promises of the Peace Agreement, and abused the confidence of the Colombian government. Their going back to their weapons has no justification whatsoever, except for their selfishness and their interest in keeping up the financing of the illegal economy. There’s nothing to dispute there.

Nevertheless, it’s important to go back to the Santrich saga, because it leaves a sense that the Attorney General’s Office did everything possible to sabotage the reputation and the actions of the JEP. It’s sad to find that there was “friendly fire” at something as delicate as the treatment of former FARC combatants. In an interview with El Espectador, Martínez said that “we turned over everything that we had in relation to Marlon Marín and that drug business”. But now we know that they only turned over 12 audios out of a total of 24,000. What was going on there? And why did they even wiretap Iván Márquez? Martínez himself said, “This is the first I heard that they had wiretapped Márquez.” How could it be that the head investigator would not be told of something like that?

In addition to those questions, we put together the issues raised by El Espectador’s investigation: “The allusions to Naranjo were just meant to distract? What is the logic of including commentary about such a high-ranking personage?” And, more than that, we repeat, the central actor in the Havana negotiations. Who is able to answer us on this?

It’s crucial to understand that, in the fight against criminals, the government has to be transparent in its methods. If not, the promises of the Rule of Law begin to stagger.

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