Former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, admitted on Friday that thousands of civilians had been executed in summary proceedings by soldiers who were being pressured to take part in a clash with former FAR fighters.
«I have no doubt that the original sin, which allowed the horrors, was the pressure to be victims“In the ranks of the enemy, but also the intention of the military to secure various” rewards “, noted the right-wing former president (2010-2018), who volunteered before the Truth Commission in Colombia.
The commission is investigating the war that lasted more than half a century between the army and the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces-Colombian People’s Army (FARC-EP). It was founded in the framework of the 2016 peace agreement, which Mr. Santos personally signed and led to the disarmament and disbandment of the rebel organization, which was transformed into a political party.
Juan Manuel Santos was the Minister of Defense of the former president of the hard right Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), during whose days thousands of civilians were executed and presented as rebels who fell in battle.
Mr. Santos, without being able to hide his emotion, stressed that he asks for forgiveness from the families of the victims.
«I apologize to all the mothers, to all the relatives, the victims of this horror, from the depths of my soul. This should never happen again».
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a special court mandated to try the most serious crimes committed during the army’s war against the FARC, revealed in February that at least 6,402 civilians had been killed by the military between 2002 and 2008. That is three times the number mentioned by the Colombian prosecutor’s office until then.
The revelation of these “false positives” (falsos positivos), in military slang, is considered probably the most widely circulated scandal in which the Colombian armed forces were involved. in their conflict with far-left rebel organizations.
The military portrayed the victims as guerrillas or members of drug-trafficking gangs, and these “positive” results secured them medals, permits and promotions.. But the thousands of victims were actually civilians killed in the cold.
Juan Manuel Santos ruled that the scandal “indelibly tarnishes the honor of the army, which has every reason to be proud, but must find the mental strength to admit the truth and apologize.”
The former president said he had been informed of crimes committed by the military when he took over as defense minister in 2006, but downgraded the allegations until he was briefed on the matter by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross. .