"Higher commands pressured us and demanded results. We had to look for results no matter what," former Corporal Nestor Guillermo Gutierrez admitted.
In a public hearing before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) held on Tuesday, a group of eleven retired soldiers admitted their participation in the extrajudicial killings of farmers that took place during counterinsurgency operations in the 2000s.
During these operations, members of the Colombian army executed rural inhabitants to pass them off as guerrillas killed in combat. This practice is known in Colombia as "false positives."
"Higher commands pressured us and demanded results. We had to look for results no matter what. We had contact with paramilitary groups, especially in the Aguachica region, to get weapons," retired Corporal Nestor Guillermo Gutierrez admitted.
"I took away your children's illusion. I tore mothers' hearts due to the pressure to obtain false results and to keep a government happy. It's not fair," Gutierres said in response to the claim of a mother asking for explanations for the murder of her son.
For his part, former Major Daladier Rivera Jacome said he was attending the meeting "to acknowledge responsibility as co-author for war crimes and crimes against humanity."
While the #EU loves to shout about Human Rights in #China , it has no problem turning a blind eye to some of the worst Human Rights abuses in the world in #Colombia under the far right Wing Government of #Duque who carries out State Terrorism with the support of EU and #US .... pic.twitter.com/k4asq0sDlu— Mick Wallace (@wallacemick) May 8, 2021
During the JEP hearing, the relatives of the victims also had the opportunity to speak. For example, Alvaro Marulanda, who has been searching for the truth about his brother's murder for the last 14 years, told the ex-military to remember the injustice committed against Martin Marulanda, a vulnerable person who was a psychiatric patient.
"You are a dishonor to the Homeland and the National Army," he said and asked other ex-soldiers who are being investigated to reveal the whole truth in the "False Positive" case.
In Colombia, extrajudicial executions of civilians have been taking place for decades. The current investigation, however, is focused on the murders that occurred after a 2005 Defense Ministry Decree, which created a program of economic incentives for soldiers who "showed" positive results in the fight against insurgent forces.
The legitimization of State terrorism happened during the administration of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), a far-right politician who has been criminally linked to paramilitary groups.