By Cristina de la Torre, EL ESPECTADOR, February 22, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
There can be no doubt. Alvaro Uribe’s fury against the JEP exposes the former President’s panic—his terror that his administration will be charged with commission of 78% of the false positives, an atrocity without parallel on this continent. The crimes of the Latin American dictators look like child’s play in comparison with these 6,402 certified murders of innocent civilians by soldiers that executed them in a policy of extermination clumsily bolstered by the pinnacle of power between 2002 and 2008. That was the source of Directive No. 25 from then-Defense Minister Camilo Ospina, offering reward payments for the capture or killing of insurgents. Putting a price on killing was to prefabricate military success with faked kills of guerrillas. and to turn a blind eye on commanders that demanded “rivers of blood” from their soldiers. One-fourth of the false positives were concentrated in Antioquia and its 4th Brigade; 73% of the victims were in that province.
The number of these extrajudicial executions could reach 10,000, as seen by the increasing accumulation of documented complaints and the testimony of soldiers to the JEP, in spite of the pressures that their superiors are placing on them to change their testimony that compromises those who gave the orders or who had ultimate responsibility in the chain of command. Members of the Secretariat of the FARC were charged in the order in Case 01 on kidnapping, often with torture and murder included, and they have just admitted their responsibility.
Shaken by the horror, half the country is speaking along with Jacqueline Castillo, Director of the collective, Mothers of False Positives. She says that the revelations by the JEP “prove that Democratic Security was a political crime (…) they are powerful evidence that those murders were systematic and generalized, under the criminal wing of a government that was selling false ideas of security in exchange for the benefits to those who delivered horrifying results.” Hearing the first denunciations of the crimes, the former President has stated that the men who disappeared from Soacha and reappeared dead were intending “criminal purposes . . . they weren’t going to pick coffee beans.” The history, the monstrosity of the genocide, will take charge of punishing the crassness of his cruel irony.
Uribe’s animosity toward the transitional justice tribunal exploded on the very day of its creation. Neither persons addicted to him, nor factotums of Ubérrimo, cognizant of the danger of the independence of these judges, baptized them as biased leftists, instruments of impunity. Uribe was blocked when he couldn’t impede the Statute that gave free rein to the tribunal; he ordered President Duque to interpose objections in an unpleasant crusade that the Congress and the Constitutional Court neutralized, laying bare the ruin of that adventure. Halfway toward resurgence from the ashes of his arrest, and making a come-back from his very modest 30% approval rating, halfway to opening an election campaign, Uribe is promoting a referendum to abolish the JEP. Now he’s repeating that the statements by the tribunal are biased, the work of NGO’s that are the enemies of his administration: attacking to discredit it, and him, an icon of transparency and respect for justice. The facts say otherwise.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has praised the work of the JEP in Colombia, calling it a model for the world in its probity and efficiency in transitional justice. That’s demonstrated by its orders against horrendous crimes committed in the armed conflict: the kidnapping and the false positives. The rendering of accounts—she declared—and the protection of the victims’ rights are essential for the consolidation of the peace and the rule of law in Colombia. Yes. Its orders regarding the most excruciating violence that tore the society to pieces have brought good news. There can yet be justice in this country.