Former leaders of the Centaurs Bloc of the AUC, including Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias “Don Mario,” described an alliance between the army and the paramilitaries in Meta, including numerous cases of these extra-judicial killings, known as “false positives.”
Luis Cardenas Alex Arango, alias “Chatarro,” who commanded an AUC front in Meta, said that in the ten years he fought for the paramilitary group there were only three actual battles with the army, the rest of the reported conflicts between the two groups, he said, were “false positives,” i.e. false reports of battles to inflate army statistics.
“The [reported] military results lowered the pressue on us [paramilitaries] because of these positive cases,” Chatarro said.
The first alleged incident of extra-judicial killings by the army in Meta occured in late 2002, when a paramilitary know as “Cody” killed a soldier from the Vargas XXI battalion by mistake.
On October 6, 2002, Cody and other paramilitaries were woken by a man brandishing a hand grenade. Cody shot the man with his 9 mm pistol and later presented him to the police and army, who immmediately decided to cover it up, adding to the list of false positives.
But after discovering that the dead man was in fact a soldier, Fredy Conde, Vargas XXI Colonel, Cabuya de Leon, was enraged and decided to stage a “major operation” against the paramilitaries.
Following negotiations between the two groups, the colonel decided he needed “five casualties” to fix the problem, as well as a new car to replace his “old Renault.”
To ease the tension, Don Mario gave the colonel COP100 million and sent several men to Villavicencio and Granada (in Meta) to find young people to present as false positives. The paramilitaries scouted bars and night clubs and returned with five to seven drunk men, who were the next day murdered and presented as guerillas killed in combat by the army.
According to Arango, alias “Chatarro,” Colonel Cabuya also received a monthly salary of COP5-10 million to keep him happy.
In early 2003, Chatarro said that he recruited four young men who they had “had their eye on” in Villavicencio and handed them over to the army along with two paramilitaries who had made “serious mistakes.” All were dressed up in guerilla uniforms and were later killed by the army as suspected members of the FARC, according to Chatarro.
The former paramilitary leader said that in 2003 the army had conducted a joint operation with the AUC in a village named Costa Rica, in San Juan de Arama, where 150 paramilitaries fought suspected guerillas alongside the army.
Two men captured during the course of the battle had uniforms and boots put on them, were given guns, and then shot, Chatarro claimed.
The issue of false positives has been an ongoing scandal which has plagued Colombia over recent years.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday requested access to all reports released in Colombia that pertain to extra-judicial killings, or false positives.
General Freddy Padilla responded by saying that the Colombian national justice system should be solely responsible for prosecuting those responsible for the killings.
In April, President Alvaro Uribe said that members of the army who committ false positives do not receive “a single penny as reward” from the government.