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  • Major General Adelmo Fajardo Hernandez speaking at a military ceremony in Colombia, May 25, 2019

    Major General Adelmo Fajardo Hernandez speaking at a military ceremony in Colombia, May 25, 2019 | Photo: @MG_AFAJARDO

Published 19 July 2019
Opinion

The defense minister released a Twitter statement dismissing the second-in-command of Colombia's military, and several other army generals for misconduct, corruption.  

Colombia’s second highest army commander has been removed from his post in connection to corruption and embezzlement during his tenure. The ministry of defense dismissed Major General Adelmo Fajardo Hernandez along with several other high-ranking military personnel in what seems to be an expanding graft scandal within Colombia’s military forces.  

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Hernandez was let go Thursday via a memo posted by the Minister of Defense Guillermo Botero on his official Twitter account. Botero’s statement read, “the second in command of the National Army Major General Adelmo Fajardo Hernandez has been discharged from his services.” The ministry replaced Hernandez with Major General Mario Augusto Valencia.

The announcement came after Colombian media released a video last month in which a lower-command member of the army testified to giving military money to Hernandez and his family at the general’s bidding while they vacationed in the United States, and for other personal expenses. 

The soldier, who has asked to remain anonymous reports that General Hernandez asked him for money to pay for travel expenses for himself and his family while Hernandez was head of the Command of Education and Army Doctrine (Cedoc), a post he held between 2016 and 2017.

"The general told me: 'Bro, I'm going to the United States, I need 5 million pesos ... You think about it, and make papers to legalize that sh*t,’ and 'bro, my lady is going to the United States and needs 1 million pesos and give her a car while she’s there ... in Orlando. Well, run, soldier, to find that sh*t,' " is what Hernandez allegedly told the military member.

The soldier, who worked under Hernandez in Cedoc for one year, said he was also regularly forced to give his boss 2,500 pesos for personal expenses and to buy cell phones for his kids.

"He told me, 'buy me the Chinese cell phone' … it was for his children," the soldier revealed.

The soldier says he even received orders to buy expensive rugs for the office that were not in the budget. " ‘Tomorrow these floors have to have rugs,’ ” the Cedoc chief would tell the soldier. 

The anonymous military member says that he gave some 50 million pesos, over US$15,000, to his Cedoc boss over the course of a year.   

In order to cover up the illegal added expenses, the soldier said he would shroud the spending in annual events like Mother’s Day, Secretary’s Day and in food for the cafeteria.

“He controlled me, … sometimes he left me there (in the office) locked up. … That, son of a bitch. I would just say, ‘Whatever you order, my general.' What else was I going to say? I couldn’t just tell him to eat sh*t," recounts the soldier in his testimony.

The military man says there was so much pressure put on him to illicitly move state funds that he became ill and asked for a transfer. "I was hospitalized. … I almost had a heart attack,” says the soldier in his video testimony. “I told (Hernandez) ‘I request a transfer, I do not want to work there anymore,' " says the anonymous source. 

Along with Hernandez, the defense ministry announced Thursday the firing of three other generals. 

General Juan Vicente Trujillo, chief of the Army's Air Assault Division, General Francisco Javier Cruz, Head of the Implementation and Stabilization Department, and General Cesar Augusto Parra Leon, Head of the Joint Planning and Transformation Department were all officially dismissed via Botero’s Twitter statement. All are linked to separate acts of misconduct and corruption.

General Jorge Horacio Romero, Commander of the Integral Action within the military was also discharged from duties earlier in July for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for granting arms permits to civilians.​​​​​​​

Hernandez was just named to the post last January by right-wing president Ivan Duque. In late May, new evidence from the state revealed that the president's military first-in-command, General Nicacio Martinez Espinel, systemically ordered extrajudicial killings of civilians in the early 2000s as a regional brigade leader

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