CAMBIOColombia, May 12, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Fr. Francisco de Roux, who headed the Truth Commission, spoke in an interview with CAMBIO about the situation in the country, and about what has happened in the Congress to the recommendations made by the Truth Commission.
In the interview with CAMBIO, Fr. de Roux referred to what happened in Congress to the recommendations made by the Truth Commission, the entity he directed from its beginning until its end. In addition, he spoke about what’s happening with the coca crisis and the effects that has had on the most vulnerable campesinos.
What’s going on with the coca plantings?
In several parts of the country, the coca growers have been left unable to sell the coca leaves, which are used by the drug traffickers to produce the cocaine that is then sent illegally to the United States. The campesinos’ income has been reduced and that has led to a crisis in those areas.
For Fr. Francisco de Roux, one of the reasons that has brought a crisis to the coca-growing areas has to do with the departure of some members of the Armed Forces. “Analysts are seeing that the fact that there has been a hasty retirement by a number of members of the military and the Police who were connected with facilitating and making it possible to get the cocaine out of the country has produced a very serious effect of falling prices,” de Roux said.
Fr. Francisco de Roux put that in context in an interview in EL ESPECTADOR with Colombian investigator Estefanía Ciro. She had concluded that the current crisis with coca was due to the peak of overproduction in the country in recent years, and to what she called “a change in the players”, because of the departure of members of the Police and the Army.
In the same way, Ciro stated that, contrary to what people have been saying, fentanyl has had no relation to the crisis that coca producers have been experiencing in Colombia.
In addition, the investigator added that possibly it is not the only explanation, and also has to do with the incorporation of other elements as substitutes in the supply of this kind of drug.
The recommendations by the Truth Commission.
One of the recommendations by the Truth Commission that generated the most discomfort in Congressional debate was the one suggesting a change in the manner of selecting Colombia’s Attorney General. The process begins with the President furnishing a list of names to the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, which is responsible for selecting the person who will head that office.
Fr. Francisco de Roux explained, “What the Commission would like is to really make it possible for the justice agency to be the most independent branch of the government. That is the spirit, because we feel that there is a justice system that is politicized everywhere.”
Regarding the defeat of the Truth Commission’s recommendations in the National Development Plan in the Congress, Fr. de Roux emphasized that the Article including those recommendations did pass in the Chamber of Representatives. He said that he did not expect the Article to be eliminated by the conference committee.
Finally, although Francisco de Roux is out of the country and has not been able to follow closely the Gustavo Petro administration’s attempt to attain “total peace”, he insisted that the dialog called for was one of the Commission’s recommendations. “It’s utterly obvious that war takes us nowhere,” said de Roux.
On the controversy about negotiating or not negotiating with illegal groups and drug traffickers, he said, “The Commission does not support negotiation with them, but rather dialog, with all of the groups.”