Diego Hernando Galván Ruedas, of the 37th Infantry Battalion of the Presidential Guard, was taken into custody for the massacre that took place on July 2018. 10 were killed in the rural municipality of El Tarra, including 5 ex FARC combatants who had laid down arms, 1 social leader and 5 other local residents.
Galvan Ruedas is also being questioned over the murder of social leader Deiver Quintero Pérez on February 2018, also in El Tarra.
The murder of social leaders has become endemic, at least 123 have been killed this year alone. The FARC and other peace activists have slammed the government and right-wing paramilitaries for not honoring their end of the 2016 peace accords.
The Colombian military receives another blow on Wednesday, a few hours before the announcement of the arrest. A viral video began circulating a soldier stationed in Arauca who declared that he was defecting to the ELN leftist guerilla group.
In the video, Luis Carlos Carrillo, the defecting soldier, said, “Since I was young I have defended and have fought for the people, for the farmers, because I’m a farmer, I am poor like many who have been in the army. The majority of us are poor. They kept us under their order and we had to do what they told us and honestly, because of that I took the decision to desert, because I want to defend the people, I’m not about oppressing the people and the farmers.”
There are growing concerns that Colombia’s fragile peace is steadily becoming undone. The failure of the state to fully end violence and that of right-wing paramilitaries resulted in a split within the now legal FARC party. A faction within the leadership, some of whom played a leading role in the peace negotiations, decided to take up arms once again in August. This move was condemned by the official FARC party, who remain committed to the 2016 agreements.