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  • Defense Minister Guillermo Botero (C) attends a Senate hearing, Nov. 6, 2019.

    Defense Minister Guillermo Botero (C) attends a Senate hearing, Nov. 6, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 6 November 2019

This case shows the return of "false positives," which are executions of civilians who are falsely presented as if they were guerrillas killed in combat.

Colombia's Defense Minister Guillermo Botero on Tuesday was accused of concealing the death of seven minors in a bombing against dissidents of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) which was carried out in the Caqueta region on September 2nd.

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"He presented such a bombing as a military success against 14 criminals; however, he hid from the country that seven of them were minors, including a 12-year-old girl," the Peace Commission president Roy Barreras said at a hearing in which a censure motion against Botero was discussed.

"A person who lies repeatedly does not deserve to be in the Defense Ministry," senator Barreras stressed and accused Botero of presenting underage victims as "criminals."

The "U Party" lawmaker warned that this bombing shows the return of "false positives," which is a Colombian dirty war's lexicon used to refer to executions of civilians who are falsely presented as if they were cases of guerrillas killed in combat.

"False positives have returned," Barreras said when he referred to Flower Trompeta, a human right defender and environmental activist who was also killed by the Army on Oct. 28.

"Teens bombarded by the Colombian Army and 'False Positives' against FARC dissidents: A. Morales (17), Wilmer Castro (17), Diana Medina (16), Jose Andrade (15), Jhon Pinzon (17), Angela Gaitan (12). A criminal enterprise from Uribismo in power." The meme reads, "I thought minors were easier to bury."

The hearing against Minister Botero, who is part of the officials most directly linked to former far-right President Alvaro Uribe, happens amid serious military discredit, which has been brought about by a wave of selective killings in the Cauca department, where at least 12 indigenous leaders died in less than a week.

"Critics have been accumulating against Botero since his erratic statements about the murder of former guerrilla Dimar Torres on April 22," outlet El Pais commented and recalled that mainstream magazine Semana "recently demonstrated that soldiers planned such homicide."

This false-positives case affects even the image of Colombia's President Ivan Duque who said that the Sep. 2 bombing had been “an impeccable operation” and a sample of “coordination” which allowed to kill Gildardo Cucho, a leader of the FARC dissent.​​​​​​​

The Senate board will determine whether the censure vote against Minister Botero, which will possibly take place on Wednesday of next week, should be public or secret.

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