By Beatriz Valdés Correa, EL ESPECTADOR, April 5, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Fabio Augusto Martínez and Luis Carlos Gómez, the first being investigated and the second convicted for illegal espionage, have told the victims in Urabá and Cauca on three occasions that they want to talk to them about illegal activities inside the Attorney General’s Office, intended to incriminate and spy on social leaders.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace closed the door, at a second hearing, to the two former prosecutors Fabio Augusto Martínez Lugo and Luis Carlos Gómez Góngora, the first being investigated and the second convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally intercepting the communications of a labor leader from Avianca. The JEP based its decision on two reasons. The first has to do with time. The Tribunal, which has jurisdiction to investigate and judge acts committed before December 1, 2016, could not establish that the acts that are attributed to Martínez and Gómez had actually taken place before that date, but rather between 2017 and 2018. The second reason is that the espionage was not related to the armed conflict. The former prosecutors, then, could not obtain the benefits of the JEP, such as conditional liberty and the special sanctions.
However, what Martínez and Gómez have told the victims of the armed conflict in regions such as Urabá and Cauca is quite different from the JEP’s decision. “We are going to furnish information that is related to the conflict, about what we experienced, and because we were part of those government agencies, we can testify about how in a systematic manner they carried out activities that really would be part of an oppressive regime, apparently legal, using different security and investigative agencies.” Those were the words of the former prosecutors in a communication directed to the victims that were present at the Memorial Dinner in Turbo (Antioquia Province). In it they commemorated the 24 years of Operation Génesis and Operation Cacarica. The first was military; the second was paramilitary, and together they caused the displacement of around 4,000 people in the collective area of Cacarica in Riosucio (Chocó Province), in February of 1997.
The leaders of Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and campesino community organizations from Urabá, Cauca, Putumayo, Montes de María, and other places were present at the Memorial Dinner, accompanied by the Intereclesial Commission for Justice and Peace, as well as some people that were responsible for the conflict: former paramilitaries, former guerrillas, and former members of the military being investigated for extrajudicial executions. That’s when they revealed their intentions to furnish the truth about some alleged activities within the Attorney General’s Office, such as stalking and profiling, used against various community organizations and leaders, even after the ‘90’s.
“In the case of the Attorney General’s Office, responsible for investigating the criminal phenomena, it was acting hand in hand with the security agencies and the Armed Forces, who at that time were living together with the armed groups in the regions. It was a kind of peaceful stay, to justify their coexistence. Because of that, the control and the efforts to maintain public order reverted to localizing and controlling the voices of leaders and people in the community that made their voices heard, justifying that on the abandonment, the military repression, and the lack of opportunities in every aspect,” they said.
Later on in their communication they also explained how those controls worked. “(The leaders) disrupted that coexistence when they called attention it, and they were accused and later identified by the forces that were operating in the region, both the legal and the illegal. For speaking out, they ended up being murdered and then, as a justification, linked to illegal armed troops that existed in the region. And they justified that with the existence of a social cleansing group that was responsible to quiet down any outbreak of insubordination in the territories that were affected.”
Danilo Rueda, Director of the Intereclesial Commission for Peace and Justice, who had accompanied several of these communities for two decades, said that this information was brand-new, because up to now nobody responsible, among those who had worked at private memory and recognition of truth and responsibility festivals, had talked about “how they used the justice system to persecute people and destroy community organizations in different territories, ever since the decade of the ‘80’s.”
Specifically, for several years the Commission had complained of intimidation, threats, and restrictions on the free movement of leaders of different areas. In 2003, a group of leaders of Communities for Self-Determination, Life, and Dignity in Cacarica (CAVIDA), as well as members of the Commission, were actually accused of being criminals after a military intelligence operation, connected at that time to the now-dissolved Administrative Department of Security (DAS).
The trajectory of the two former officials Martínez and Gómez makes you think of the victims that could definitely furnish valuable information about profiling, stalking, and frame-ups. Martínez, for example, worked for 32 years in the investigating agency, the National Criminal Investigation Headquarters (DNIC). He was part of the DAS since 1981 and later in the Judicial Police, DNIC, and the Attorney General’s Technical Investigation Team (CTI). In his last 14 years in the agency he worked as a prosecutor.
Gómez, for his part, began his training as a government agent in 1985, when he was a member of the 20th Brigade Army Intelligence and Counterintelligence. Later he retired and joined a group of the CIA and, in 1994, he joined the Attorney General’s staff. “Because I lacked experience in a lot of areas, I was the creator of the sections for wiretapping at the national level, of fixed telephone lines as well as of cell phones,” he stated in his communication to the victims.
The communities, accredited as victims in cases 04 regarding the situation in the countryside of Urabá, and 05 on Cauca, received a second communication from the former prosecutors, but this time in Bogotá two weeks ago. At that time, Martínez and Gómez repeated their offers. That story is being prepared.
Danilo Rueda believes that story is key for the victims because, according to him, “The military intelligence operations determined that people that only committed the crime of existing, and of exercising social, environmental, and territorial leadership, were legitimate targets. Those two have the information about those techniques of frame-ups and faked evidence and how to stalk people. Besides telling the truth, there is still a possibility that the evidence that they are aware of could be preserved by the JEP.”