Contagioradio, February 16, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

It has been nearly three years since more than 200 human rights organizations that make up the Coordination of Colombia, Europe, and the U.S. revealed and reported to Colombian authorities the information about the joint functioning of General Leonardo Alfonso Barrero Gordillo, who was appointed Director of the Plan for Timely Action of Prevention and Protection for Social and Community Leaders, Journalists, and Human Rights Defenders (PAO in Spanish).

According to the COEUROPA platform, at that time it was known that there had already been serious questions about Barrero’s activities, specifically those against the social organizations like Marcha Patriotica, which he had constantly stigmatized.

Barrero’s close relationship with González del Río and the Clan del Golfo

Furthermore, the intercepted messages ordered by the Attorney General’s Office had already been revealed to authorities. The messages  demonstrated the close relationship with Colonel González del Río, who had been convicted of 47 extrajudicial executions of young people that were presented as killed in combat, and that did not belong to the guerrillas or to any criminal organization.

“In February of 2014, there had been dozens of intercepted messages, ordered legally, and carried out by the Attorney General’s Office. Among them were highlighted some conversations carried on between the one who had been appointed Director of the PAO, Retired General Leonardo Alfonso Barrero Gordillo and Lt. Colonel Robinson González del Río, who had admitted his participation in at least 46 cases of extrajudicial executions. In the intercepted conversations, Barrero Gordillo claimed that it was necessary to create a mafia against the prosecutors that were investigating cases of serious violations of human rights.”

At that time, no authorities paid any attention to the arguments presented by the human rights organizations. On the contrary, General Barrero was appointed Co-ordinator of a plan what was supposed to protect social leaders and human right defenders, very much to the contrary of what has now been demonstrated: his work with paramilitary-type organizations like the so-called “Clan del Golfo” or Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

Through General Barrero, the Clan del Golfo received intelligence information and it had a payroll in the Armed Forces

One of the greatest concerns in the human rights organizations about the work of the Armed Forces is their complicity that appears to be unlimited, since, thanks to the investigations that have been able to establish that Generals and Colonels were sharing intelligence information that helped them carry out their criminal activities, and besides that, gave one of the gangs, specifically the Clan del Golfo or AGC, a better position in the war.

According to reports that the long overdue work of the prosecutors has been able to establish, there was a list of payments of about 500 million pesos (roughly USD $127,000) every month to what is now known as the AGC payroll, in which González del Río and Barrera were receiving at least 30 million pesos (roughly USD $7,600) every month.

Besides that, the Armed Forces, through their high-ranking officers offered military and operational training to this group, turning that practice into an iron-clad and closed-off alliance, so that those criminal organizations could operate with the most support possible, which confirms that this was not just a few “rotten apples” but rather, it was the action of the institution.

That kind of activity awarded Barrero the alias of “El Padrino” (“The Godfather”), which he was always called in the interceptions that the prosecutors made and that were revealed this week.

The administration has shown a complicit attitude in spite of the complaints

Another matter that is considered to be extremely serious is the posture of this administration, the Democratic Center, which has stayed with its decisions in spite of the warnings. Now that there is continuing confirmation of the joint activity between the Armed Forces and several armed organizations, this situation shows clear evidence that the complicity is part of the system.

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