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News > Colombia

Colombia: Guerrillas Innocent of Hundreds of Violent Killings

  • FARC soldiers are seen standing in formation. File Photo 09/21/2016.

    FARC soldiers are seen standing in formation. File Photo 09/21/2016. | Photo: EFE

Published 28 May 2019

Violent outbreaks were blamed on guerilla groups, like the FARC and ELN which were later found to be false.

Colombia’s guerrilla forces are innocent of some 180 to 200 cases of violence, former paramilitary leader, Luis Arlex Arango (alias Chatarro,) confessed to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) on Tuesday.

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Chatarro was one of the first paramilitary officers to resign and deliver a statement after the Peace Agreement was signed in 2016. He told the JEP commission that in a rush to close cases, many violent outbreaks were blamed on guerrilla groups, like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). These were later found to be false.

This custom was allegedly a strategy to control the “undesirable” sectors of society, Arlex said. Some were executed by rogue groups independent of either guerrilla group, while others were targeted by the paramilitaries and state militia.

"They wanted us to wear (people) down by bringing militia and they were dismissed as guerrillas. And we said: 'Well, if they are going to kill guerrillas then they are afraid to go up into the mountains and give the casualties and they are asking us to look for people to kill them as guerrillas'.

Arlex described his superior officers arriving to the scene with a “need” and having commented on more than one occasion that they were “measured by bloodshed.”

“That is a game into which I unfortunately followed Colonel (Hector) Cabuya because of the pressure and friendship. That took a toll, a very large toll; I think one of the greatest shame the Colombian Auto Defense unit suffered was its role in the whole issue. And because of Colonel Cabuya's thirst for losses, they brought social and political consequences for the Self-Defense Forces.”

Earlier this month, the Commander of the Colombian National Army, General Nicacio Martinez Espinel was linked to  the alleged cover-up of civilian killings in “false positive” operations during the 2000s, according to exclusive information obtained by The Associated Press. 

The evidence was provided by an anonymous source from Colombia’s prosecutor’s office and show that the Colombian officer in 2005 authorized at least seven payments, which never exceeded US$500, to supposed informants whose names and IDs didn’t match, turning out to be Colombian soldiers related to “false positive” operations. 

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