Colombia’s defense minister forgot to get rid of evidence proving he personally coordinated the Bogota Massacre in which police murdered seven people and injured at least 72 on Wednesday and Thursday.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Wednesday evening he was in charge of the security forces while police were carrying out what Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez called “an authentic massacre.”
Evidence of state terror campaign left on social media
Evidence that far-right President Ivan Duque‘s chief of staff Diego Molano, Vice-Interior Minister Daniel Palacios, Armed Forces commander Luis Navarro and acting National Police director General Gustavo Moreno were with Trujillo during the massacre was later found online.
The defense minister was called to Congress on Saturday, but that would be the least of his worries.
The government claim that he led what Lopez called “the most serious event that has happened in Bogota since the Palace of Justice siege” of 1985 would be enough to get him and the other top officials in court.
Until Sunday morning, nobody had even bothered to delete the evidence confirming Trujillo, Navarro and Moreno were leading the two-day state terrorism campaign while Molano presumably kept the president informed.
The Bogota massacre timeline
Trujillo and the acting National Police chief arrived at the military command post before 7:38PM when they published a tweet in which Trujillo announced “the legitimate use of state force” in response to unrest in that followed the brutal killing of an unarmed man in the capital early that morning.
The National Police on a national level has been instructed to take all necessary measures, not just to protect the lives and integrity of the citizens in the face of the violent events and violence that are taking place. It is clear for everyone that authority is non-negotiable, it is clear we will not allow these excesses by certain people who are using the indignation and pain of fellow citizens to generate violence and attack public life, integrity and property.
Acting National Police director Gustavo Moreno
The shooting started less than an hour later, according to human rights organization Corporacion Juridica, which said Thursday it received its first reports from throughout the capital from 8:30PM onward.
Five minutes later, Bogota’s mayor Tweeted she was on her way to the Bogota Police Department “to coordinate the actions of the unified command post” led by Trujillo and warning about police brutality.
We reject police violence and abuse in Bogota and reiterate our commitment to truth, justice, peace and reconciliation.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez
Lopez wasn’t able to get in touch with the defense minister until 10:20PM, she tweeted, calling on civilians not to use violence and urging the police “to adhere to the legitimate exercise of their duties.”
At 10:28PM, the Defense Ministry tweeted images, saying “Trujillo leads the United Command Post together with the military leadership and the police” as if nothing was wrong.
One minute later, Trujillo published more photos, confirming the presence of the vice-minister of the interior and Duque’s chief of staff, pretending he was not leading a state terrorism campaign.
Throughout the evening “uniformed policemen, policemen hiding their uniforms or presumed members of the police in civilian clothes” had embarked on the massacre in at least four neighborhoods, Lopez said Friday.
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo received 90 minutes of video footage “where members of the Public Force are clearly shown shooting indiscriminately in different neighborhoods of the city,” according to Lopez.
By midnight, police had murdered seven people and 68 were injured by police bullets in Bogota alone, Lopez said Friday morning.
Trujillo published another video at 1:22AM on Thursday in which the defense minister said that “at the United Command Post, led by the president of the republic, we made a national assessment.”
“With the participation of the mayor of Bogota,” he had decided to militarize Bogota, Trujillo said, urging to “stop stigmatizing the police.”
We urge to stop stigmatizing the police institution that is loved by the Colombians trying to insultingly blame all its members of the behavior of by some of them.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo
Lopez said Thursday she left the police station at 1:30AM.
At 3:19AM, from home and visibly distraught, Lopez confirmed people had been murdered and that 44 police stations had been destroyed both by citizens and police.
The mayor urged to “reestablish the evident lack of confidence and legitimacy of the police and the security bodies,” calling on the president for a “structural reform” to end abuse of power.
My condolences to family and friends of those who died or are injured.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez
Lopez learns about Trujillo’s terror campaign
Lopez understood her authority as police commander was being undermined on Thursday morning and that the human cost was even bigger than she was aware of just a few hours before.
At 6AM, the defense ministry reiterated the reinforcement of troops in Bogota and announced a reward for information on the murders “at the request of the mayor,” and “reiterated its support in the district administration” of Lopez.
At a press conference with the defense minister at 6:30AM, the National Police’s vice-director announced dozens of arrests, without making any reference to the state terror campaign he and Trujillo would later apologize for.
Instead, the defense minister praised the police and claimed the government had a “zero tolerance policy” for cops breaking the law “or the ignorance of institutional regulations,” also omitting to mention the terror Trujillo and the National Police allegedly had unleashed in Bogota for the second time since November.
Instead, the defense minister began implying that “politicians” were behind the violence, implicitly shifting the blame to government critics.
At that point, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights stepped in, saying it “fiercely condemned the cases of police abuse and brutality.”
Now with international support and the knowledge she was being undermined, Lopez furiously announced the police had been shooting at people indiscriminately on orders that had not come from her police department.
I was at MEBOG from 8:45pm to 1:30am coordinating the District PMU. No one gave orders to use firearms, much less indiscriminately. But we have evidence from several places where this happened. We are reconstructing facts with victims and family members
In a press conference, Lopez claimed that “confidence in the security organisms isn’t strained, it is broken. And to reestablish it amendment, apologies, and the acknowledgement of facts” will be necessary.
Meanwhile, citizen reports of police terrorizing the city kept coming in and Lopez urged Inspector General Fernando Carrillo to carry out an investigation on who had ordered the police to indiscriminately open fire on unarmed civilians.
At the same time, President Ivan Duque spoke out, reiterating his supposed “zero tolerance policy” against the police brutality he was responsible for, but didn’t seem to know about.
Half an hour later, Inspector General Fernando Carrillo rejected any possibility that the notoriously ineffective military justice system could try the police crimes committed on Wednesday, opening the possibility of the defense minister, the interior minister, Duque’s chief of staff and the military command going to prison.
Ten minutes later, the Unites Nations’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association, Clement Voule, said he was “closely following the situation in Colombia” and added that “the perpetrators of the excessive use of force must be punished.”
Powerful human rights organization Dejusticia called on the Supreme Court to initiate an investigation, claiming that the National Police led by Trujillo “not only threatens the right to protest, but represents a risk to the right to life, integrity, due process, and freedom of expression, among many others.”
The Supreme Court responded with a ruling in which it assumed the investigation into the murder of a student in November’s protests, removing the case from the notoriously ineffective military justice system.
Trujillo understands prison is looming
Trujillo has supported state terrorism since the 1990’s, but was now suddenly looking at the possibility of being taken to court on eight homicide charges.
The minister freaked out and called on “good Colombians,” i.e. those obedient to the government, for support and oppose the “death and vandalism of the instigators calling to disobey and destroy.”
Residents of cities across Colombia began taking to the street, but in rejection of Trujillo and the government.
The commander of an anti-riot unit in Medellin told Colombia Reports that the mayor had given the order not to intervene and only defend property in cases of vandalism.
Petro called on his supporters throughout the country to “peacefully take the streets” and register any abuse of force.
Trujillo rushed back to his command post where he arrived before 8PM for another night of terror.
Duque’s boss, Former President Alvaro Uribe, called for a stage of siege but was told no alleged terrorist supporter was in charge of security in Colombia.
Instead, the opposition began reporting violent repression and began calling for the resignation of Trujillo, who had completely lost control unlike Bogota’s mayor, who was slowly retaking control over her police force.
At 10PM, the UN’s human rights office also raised its voice, claiming human rights leaders in Bogota and Villavicencio had been arrested while protests were reported throughout the country.
Duque, who had tried not to get involved in Trujillo’s alleged terrorism activities, took control as the terrorism plot was getting international attention and the president’s closest aides were on their way to prison.
Friday: The destruction of Duque
While reports on police repression were piling up, Petro stepped up the pressure at 11:30PM and called to “reestablish democracy in Bogota” and again at 0:30AM on Friday, claiming that only the resignation of the entire leadership of the National Police would allow to reestablish legitimacy.
Non-violence will now be very important now. The police leadership may no longer continue and Duque must understand this.
Opposition Senator Gustavo Petro
At 8AM, Petro claimed “the Duque regime no longer fits in a democracy,” called for intensified marches and accused Duque of trying to “stage a coup” against Bogota’s mayor.
They want a lethal body against protest that will remain in impunity because they know that the people will take to the streets.
Opposition Senator Gustavo Petro
Lopez, who reported eight injured residents due to police shootings, also had enough and openly questioned who her police force obeys. Her city council was mobilizing in the mayor’s support and all political forces began uniting in opposition of the president.
They disobeyed express and public instructions from the Mayor’s Office, so who do they obey? Justice, action and reform are urgently needed!
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez
Trujillo broke and asked forgiveness for “any violation of the law” by the National Police at 10:22AM, announcing an internal investigation for the “alleged abuse of authority and homicide” in a desperate attempt to evade justice.
Lopez wasn’t having any of it and said the president agreed to talk and see the bulk of evidence she had gathered of state terrorism which she would surrender to the Inspector General at 5PM.
The Colombian Commission of Jurists, which had been endorsed by the UN on Thursday, wasn’t having any of it either and demanded the Inspector General immediately remove the defense minister from his post while Duque was talking to Lopez.
To add insult to injury, opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda and 12 other NGO’s announced criminal charges against Trujillo and five police generals.
The take-down of Holmes and the National Police was now in full force, both legally and politically.
Having received 90 minutes of evidence of police terror from Lopez, the inspector general requested video footage that would prove alleged police abuse in at least seven other cities.
Moreno additionally had to provide Carrillo with an inventory of all the ammunition, firearms and explosives used on Wednesday and Thursday.
Duque desperately tried to seek scapegoats in an evening address to the country. The president announced the arrest of 140 people allegedly involved in vandalism, including “foreigners” who would be deported.
The president was roasted on social media and NGO’s and the opposition began preparing to bring the state terrorists who forgot to get rid of the evidence to justice.