Colombia’s defense minister is facing increasing pushback over his baseless claims that guerrillas are behind swelling anti-government protests.
Defense Minister Diego Molano found himself being contradicted by the governor of the Cauca province, Elias Laharrondo, on Saturday after claiming that four community leaders were dissidents of the now-defunct FARC guerrilla group.
Molano claimed that the social leaders were behind violent protest that broke out in Cauca capital Popayan on Friday in response to the suicide of a 17-year-old girl who claimed she was sexually abused by the police.
The defense minister has consistently blamed FARC dissidents and ELN guerrillas for the protests since they began on April 28.
Molano desperately needs evidence of guerrilla involvement because the defense minister deployed the military to the country’s largest cities and almost 50 people were killed.
Unfortunately for Molano, he hasn’t been able to produce a shred of evidence to support his conspiracy theories and the community leaders are renowned for their social work.
The defense minister, on the other hand, is facing criminal charges, a motion of no confidence and a possible foreign military aid cuts over the security forces alleged human rights violations in response to the protests.
To add insult to injury, the violence has dramatically increased support for the protests and destroyed support for President Ivan Duque, who is now dealing with a government crisis.
Molano has been running around Colombia like a headless chicken as the urban protests have been accompanies by rural protests in which major highways were blocked.
According to a poll released by weekly Semana on Sunday, 81% of Colombians disapprove of how the government has responded to the strike and the subsequent protests.