Military ceremony presentation of troops to Minister of Defense and President Gustavo Petro
Photo: The Spectator – Óscar Pérez
The army has officially released the names of senior officers who will make up the structure of the armed forces during the time of new President Gustavo Petro. Although President Maximum has promised a renewal aimed at the protection of citizenship, based on the election of soldiers with no history of serious human rights violations, the new administration will have soldiers involved and, in other cases , will close in violent death episodes. .
One of them is General Juan Carlos Correa Consuegra, who was appointed Inspector General of the Army. In other words, he will have under his administration the investigations and the disciplinary sanctions against the members of this military force. Until a few months ago, he was commander of the Army’s Air Assault Aviation Division. Fulfilling these functions, he became its spokesperson when, last March, during a disputed military operation in the village of El Remanso in Puerto Leguízamo (Putumayo), 11 people died, including civilians and authorities native.
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Complaints from citizens and journalists about the event echoed across the country, to the point that former Defense Minister Diego Molano faced a no-confidence motion in Congress. The defense of the army has always supported the argument that there were peasants in this place in a position of dissidents from the so-called border commands, allies of the second Marquetalia of Ivan Marquez. However, among the victims were, for example, the indigenous governor of Bajo Remanso, Pablo Panduro, and a 16-year-old boy, whom they allegedly tried to pose as a dissident, arming him at the crime scene.
At the height of the controversy, General Correa Consuegra pointed out that the operation had been carried out with the aim of capturing one of the leaders of the criminal group Comandos de la Frontera. The officer added that the operation respected international humanitarian law and that there were no reports that a community bazaar was being held and that there was a presence of civilians. Also, that the attack had been preparing for ten days. “There was no massacre here,” said the man who will now monitor the disciplinary procedure.
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However, the community has denounced other irregularities in the operation which, due to their seriousness, are now under investigation. For example, that soldiers identified themselves as guerrillas to attack a supposed group of border commands, that the community was subjected to cruel treatment by the men in uniform and that after the operation several families had to be relocated of their homes. your house. Likewise, the inhabitants of the area pointed out that the army had not taken into account or applied the due considerations in the operation, because there were children and pregnant women in the place, who were not wearing nor the appropriate uniform, and that the uniform of the men had diverted the scenes of facts to make pass civilians for armed men.
Amid the commotion over the disputed operation, Major General María Paulina Leguizamón arrived at the scene of the events. In addition to being present in the area, the senior officer assumed the legal defense of certain soldiers who took part in the operation. And this is another of the women in uniform who will be part of the new organization chart of the army, at least in the first part of the Petro government. Under his tenure, Leguizamón will continue to lead the deputy head of the legal office, which, among other functions, reviews rules for the use of force for military operations. In 2021, General Ella defended the bombardment that ended in the death of the leader of the Eln Western War Front, alias Fabian, in Chocolate. Another controversial case of the last government, against the bombardments in camps where there are minors, possibly recruited by force.
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“The standard in no way imposes on us considerations of any kind of sex, age, condition or religious belief, what we must consider is that this is a military objective ( …) civilians will enjoy immunity and protection status as long as they do not take a direct part in hostilities,” Leguizamón said. a news in 2021. However, four teenagers, aged between 13 and 17, died in this operation, and the government called the bombing a “surgical operation”.
The case of Luis Fernando Uni
Brigadier General Royer Gómez Herrera has been named the new commander of Joint Task Force Omega, with a presence in Meta, Caquetá and Guaviare. In April 2021, it was he who explained the death of an alleged dissident, alias coastal, in Puerto Cachicamo, rural area of San José del Guaviare. He was therefore commander of Rapid Deployment Force 1, which presented this “neutralization” as a blow to the pseudonym Kind Duarte.
However, Fernando*, a farmer from the area, managed to get a video of him taken up in the media in which he denounces that coastal He was not a FARC dissident and that, in fact, was his 16-year-old son. “I need the state to answer me for my son, who was a minor, they had no reason to take my life. He was an honest, judicious and hardworking boy,” he said. He was called Luis Fernando Uní, who worked milking cows.
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Magazine To change contacted Iván Andrés Orrego, who claimed to have survived the attack on the day his friend, Fernando Uní, died. “We were picking up with my friend when we heard a shout: Hey! I continued on the motorbike and then I felt two blows in the chest which knocked me down,” he said in an interview. General Gómez, in a public statement, explained that this alleged dissident survived and was transferred to Villavicencio for his care.
Currently, the authorities are still investigating what happened during these events. Young Orrego, for his part, was not linked to any investigation as a dissident. On the contrary, after the events he spent 20 days under sedation and now he denounces that one of his arms was pulverized by a shot and that a lung remained half functional. “I’m bored because they ruined my life, I was useless because I can’t produce strength. The only thing left for me is to finish my studies, nothing else,” he told the outlet.
the national strike
President Gustavo Petro, during his presidential campaign, was incisive in supporting the social protests of the last national strike, which lasted from April to August 2021, and in rejecting the excessive use of force that resulted by the death of more than 10 people. Major General Álvaro Vicente Pérez Durán, who will be second in command of the army, remained in the structure of the armed forces, under his government. He is the officer who, as commander of the Joint Southwest Command, supported the National Police during the days of protest in Valle del Cauca.
It is precisely the region of the country with the highest number of people killed during the national strike. According to statistics from the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz), of the 80 possible homicides nationwide, 59 took place in the Valle del Cauca. Among them, the vast majority is attributed to the Force Publique and in two the Army is directly singled out. Major General Pérez Durán was second in command of the army, just below General Luis Mauricio Ospina.
It remains to be seen whether the meticulous examination of the curriculum vitae of the newly appointed brings about any change, as has already happened with General Jairo Fuentes, who was appointed by President Petro as second in command of the army and has quit management after it became clear he was involved in a case of false positives in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
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