EL ESPECTADOR, July 16, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The Supreme Court of Justice charged former Congressman César Pérez García, already sentenced to 30 years in prison for financing the massacre of 46 people in Antioquia, with responsibility for the killing of Mayor Elkin de Jesús Martínez, who was a member of the Patriotic Union Party, in May of 1988.
Former Liberal Party Congressman César Pérez García, who had even served as President of the Chamber, will face a new criminal trial, this time for his alleged responsibility for the murder of Elkin de Jesús Martínez, who did not get to be sworn in as Mayor of Remedios (Antioquia Province). The victim had been a member of the Patriotic Union Party, and was shot to death during the persecution of the Party, in Medellín on May 16, 1988.
“In the criminal complaint, the Special Instruction Branch alleged that Pérez García belonged to the highest ranks of a paramilitary group, and thus had a position of influence and command; that from that position he allegedly gave orders to eliminate the militants of the UP in the municipalities of northeast Antioquia, such as Vegachí, Segovia, and Remedios, where he had lost political power,” as the Supreme Court explained.
The High Court pointed out that the defense counsel for Pérez García had tried to explain that the murder of that member of the UP had been committed by one of his political associates. Nevertheless, that argument was dismissed in the file, given that a fierce dispute had existed between the leftist movement and the political presence that the former Congressman was seeking in Antioquia.
Pérez García was linked with the process after, in October of 2014, the Attorney General’s Office declared 34 killings of members of the UP to be war crimes and crimes against humanity, so that their investigations could never be filed away without a conclusion. Among those killings is the killing of Elkin de Jesús Martínez, who was also referred to in the In-Depth Report by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) in 2017, regarding the members and militants of the hunted political party.
According to the complaint made by Martínez when he was a member of the Municipal Council of Remedios, in 1988 he had been part of a committee to investigate looting that took place that year in northeast Antioquia. Soldiers of the Bomboná Battalion had carried it out at gunpoint against campesinos that were tortured and received bullet wounds, allegedly. The committee complained to the Inspector General’s Office that they had received death threats.
“After he had been elected Mayor as a UP member, Martínez Álvarez received numerous death threats in writing, and by pamphlets that came from the paramilitary group Death to Revolutionaries in Northeast Antioquia (MRN in Spanish.) The file shows that on May 11, 1988, Sr. Martínez was at home when he received an envelope with a condolence message and a threatening note in the following terms: “Mayors-Elect of Apartadó, Yondó, Segovia, Mutatá, and Remedios . . .A promise is a promise, your days are numbered!” adds the CIDH report.
In the morning of May 16, 1988, five days after the threatening message, the Mayor-Elect was murdered by a hit man, using a firearm, when he was in the reception area of the El Cristal Hotel in Medellín. He was getting ready to leave for the airport to go to Cartagena, where he planned to take part in the VI National Congress of Administrators of Public Service Funds and Property.
The former member of the Liberal Party is in home detention while he faces a new trial for his alleged participation in the killing of Martínez Álvarez, because he is already sentenced to 30 years in prison for a sinister episode against members of the UP and against the civilian population in Antioquia. In May of 2013 he was sentenced for the crime of aggravated homicide, because his responsibility in the massacre at Segovia on November 11, 1988 had been established.
At that time, the organization Death to Revolutionaries in Northeast Antioquia (MRN) had been threatening elected Council members that belonged to the UP, using graffiti on the walls of houses in the center part of Segovia. They also murdered campesinos. The organization was commanded by Fidel Castaño, who also led the AUC, which had joined with members of the Armed Forces to exterminate any of the Party’s sympathizers.
On November 11, 1988, the sun was going down when three campers entered Segovia, taking different streets, with the occupants starting to fire at anyone that was there. The community remembers that there were children shot in the back, pedestrians that were shot down right in the roadway, and there were even hand grenades tossed into houses. After an hour and a half of the attack, there were 46 people dead and 60 people injured.
During the investigation, ex-paramilitary Alonso de Jesús Baquero, known as “Negro Vladimir”, (“Vladimir the Black man”) identified former Congressman Pérez García as one had financed the massacre, with the single objective of obtaining political control of the area. “He asked Henry de Jesús Pérez and Fidel Castaño to clear the leftists of Segovia out of his way. Segovia was a municipality where the majority of the people supported the Patriotic Union Party,” Baquero stated in his testimony.