Justice indicts eleven soldiers for the murder of 120 civilians who were presented as guerrillas killed during combats
Gabriel García Márquez wrote a story entitled ‘For a country within the reach of children’ in which he defined Colombia as one country on paper and another in reality. “A resounding success or a sports defeat can cost us as many deaths as an air disaster. We have an almost irrational love for life, but we kill each other out of the urge to live. We are capable of the noblest and most abject acts, of sublime poems and insane murders, of jubilant funerals and deadly parties, ”wrote the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Nothing is closer to that real Colombia than the report of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) on the murders committed between 2007 and 2008 by military forces, including a general, published last Tuesday.
The accusations have been made after thirteen years of investigation in which the JEP has received eight reports from state entities and organizations of victims and human rights defenders. Another 41 versions of appearing parties, judicial inspections and the contrast and analysis of 258 books of official documents obtained in the archives of the military bodies involved complete the case known in the country as that of ‘false positives’.
Everything happened in an area to the northwest of Colombia that, if not for the last vowel, has an almost funereal name: Catatumbo. It borders Venezuela. Rich for agriculture, but especially for coca plantations. Ideal for hiding illegal gangs and guerrillas, but also for paramilitaries and for military personnel of the then-President Álvaro Uribe’s government to roam freely and do what they did: kill defenseless civilians and say they died in combat. Young people between 25 and 35 years old, who were murdered and dressed as guerrillas.
The order received, according to the JEP communiqué, was “to add casualties as necessary”, “positive” in the rhetorical military jargon. The notoriety of the phenomenon of “false positives” appeared during the first decade of this century, when the National Executive instituted the policy of “democratic security.” Guidelines are given to the Armed Forces for an increase in activities against the guerrillas on all fronts of the country. Although historically the armed groups had been outside the cities, the audacity of their activities had reached the main cities with the detonation of bombs, kidnappings and attacks on members of the State and the political establishment, to the point that Colombian society itself he demanded greater safety on roads and streets.
Faced with a challenge of this magnitude, the response was to give “positives” in the fight against the guerrilla fronts. Military operations were carried out that were highlighted by the local and international press as military successes, such as the bombardment of guerrilla camps, where FARC leaders such as Raúl Reyes and Mono Jojoy, among others, were discharged. There was also the release of hostages such as Ingrid Betancourt, who are presented to the press as triumphs of military intelligence.
Many Colombian citizens viewed these military activities with joy for the recovery of the country in areas where the guerrillas had a permanent presence and the Army was expelled from those territories. After these spectacular military actions, and to maintain high levels of effectiveness, the State initiated a policy of incentives for members of the Armed Forces. And as of 2005, it began to reward units that showed effectiveness in the armed struggle against the guerrillas.
The military called “positive” actions that terminated or retained members of insurgent groups. This is how they begin to present themselves to civilians discharged in suspicious circumstances, vile from the rural area – peasants who were disguised as guerrillas – were presented with military garb. In the investigation of the incident, it is now reported that they did not show evidence of having been members of armed insurgent groups.
Several of these medical legal reports and the claim of relatives and groups of national and international organizations began to question these ‘positives’ presented by the military. The national press coined the phrase “false positives”, a complete contradiction to define the violation of human rights that resulted in the investigation that showed that many of these “positives” were presented to win congratulations, medals, promotions, vacation plans and even benefits like food stamps.
In the general panorama, the so-called “false positives” are the result of the alliances of paramilitaries, drug trafficking and State forces, which in their desire to end the actions of the guerrilla groups that affected national security, carried out actions to affect militarily to these groups. As of the signing of the peace agreement during the Government of Juan Manuel Santos, the transitional peace justice known as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was created, which establishes that these actions are derived from the political-military conflict and reparation to victims of that confrontation. “The murders and forced disappearances are part of the same macrocriminal pattern,” the JEP sentenced. The accused have thirty days to respond to the accusations.
“Colombia is a dense and indecipherable homeland where the implausible is the only measure of reality.” Gabo’s word.