By Bernardo Henao Jaramillo
The death of FARC member Dimas Torres, under circumstances that have yet to be determined, was the pretext for a motion of censure against Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero. The incident took place in the state of Norte de Santander, along the border with Venezuela.
However, his explanations were rejected by the House of Representatives, which was summoned on May 15 with the purpose of promoting a motion of censure. Yet, in a strange decision, the petitioners requested in a letter dated May 14, 2019, requested the withdrawal of the motion.
Journalist Nick Casey of The New York Times, characterized the incident as an example of the recurrence of “false positives”, that is the military killing of innocent civilians and then claiming the casualties as anti-government military combatants, during the administration of President Iván Duque.
Casey’s article was a clear case of misinformation, and here in Colombia there are journalists who make up part of a “journalistic carousel”; they were immediately given the task of disseminating the denunciations of the foreign newspaper by both local and national radio, print, and television media outlets. How much damage have they now caused to the Colombian military?
The government, eager to set all straight, hastened to form a Special Audit Commission, composed of the respected legal figures Hernando Yepes, Mauricio González and Alfonso Gómez Méndez. The government issued a statement explaining that the commission’s task “in the next 30 days, will be to review the manual guidelines and operational protocols so that, independently, they can examine the coherence and consistency of the behavior of public forces, and their guidelines with the norms of human rights and international humanitarian law.”
There is no doubt that these are outstanding professionals, but what knowledge and experience do they have to be called to question the behavior of the armed forces? The creation of that civil commission is another serious mistake that affects the military honor. This led to the loss of military jurisdiction, to be judged by ordinary justice. Now, nobody imagined long ago that in an eagerness to heed the concerns of the radical left, our heroes would be led to the scaffold, today facing public condemnation by a new infernal tribunal of the JEP (created by ex-subversives in Havana with foreign participation).
It is pertinent to indicate that those manuals and protocols that are intended to be reviewed have already been examined by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an international organization that enjoys great credibility. To submit them to the judgment of three people lacking in military training and strategy is all nonsense.
The causes of the deaths of social leaders, which feature prominently in the country’s newspapers, are largely a product of the geographical areas in which they occur, and a reflection of the drug trafficking that affects those zones. A death involving a corporal of the army, however, is automatically converted into a pretext to revive the false positives and defame an institution that enjoys great prestige and reputation.
The contradictions of the country are evident. Today Jesus Santrich is protected by the law, while General Nicacio Martínez, with an impeccable resume, is subject to a disciplinary investigation; the product of international pressure.
We Colombians can not allow history to be rewritten so that the former criminals sitting undeservedly in Congress are today the heroes of the country. Here, since the cry of independence, and liberation from the Spanish yoke, until the recent defeat of the FARC that opened the way to peace negotiations, the true heroes of Colombia are military and police. Their honor will not be tainted by a foreign journalist.
Bernardo Henao Jaramillo is a lawyer and president of the Únete por Colombia organization.