The photo was initially published by political allies of the president on Sunday and almost immediately raised suspicion with multiple social media users pointing out that the dead man in the leaked image does not look like Guacho and does not appear to have the birth mark on the right cheek.
Furthermore, the pants and shoes worn by the man in the photo appear to be clean while the president and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero initially claimed that the FARC dissident was killed in combat.
The authorities later said that Guacho and one of his lieutenants were killed by snipers.
Duque’s credibility problem
Colombia’s military has a history of presenting murdered civilians as guerrillas killed in combat and some former FARC commanders were reported dead multiple times.
Duque and Botero in September claimed that Guacho was injured in a military operation, but were later contradicted by the commander of the armed forces who said he had found no evidence to support this claim.
In an attempt to stop the growing number of “false positive” claims, Duque took to Blu Radio, a radio station run by his brother-in-law, to confirm that the person in the photo is in deed Guacho.
The defense minister also reiterated that the FARC dissident leader “is fully identified. Everything else is fantasy, this is certified by the Prosecutor General’s Office.”
“The birth mark coincides even though it isn’t visible in the photo. This says absolutely nothing,” Botero said in his attempt to dispel the rumors.
Duque “understands” victims’ family griefs
The president also responded to the families of three Ecuadorean journalists who were kidnapped and killed by Guacho’s “Frente Oliver Sinisterra” group in April and had taken offense at Duque’s claim that the rogue guerrilla’s alleged death “ended impunity.”
The families stressed that the killing of Guacho does not resolve any of their questions about government actions to prevent the killing of their loved ones.
Duque said he “understands” the objections of the victims’ families and vowed to continue the investigation into the journalists’ deaths.
The investigation into what happened with not end with this blow to Guacho. We must move all investigations forward and know the details of the circumstances” in which the Ecuadoreans were killed.