Colombia’s military played down proven ties with now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC in a report sent to the Truth Commission, according to newspaper El Espectador.
In a report, the military acknowledged it supported “civic-military” paramilitary groups when they were legal in the 1960’s, but denied responsibility for the surge of drug-fueled paramilitary violence after the 1980’s.
The report is one of three in which the military tells the commission that is trying the reconstruct was happened during the armed conflict its side of the story about the rise of the AUC.
The military confirmed it supported paramilitary groups after this was sanctioned in 1965, but distanced itself from groups that formed after a 1989 ban on the armament of civilians, reported El Espectador.
The two generations
The paramilitary groups formed in the 1960’s “emerged in reaction to the risks of change in political and local regimes that came with negotiations with the guerrillas,” the military reportedly said.
These “self-defense” groups were “different from the groups that acted in the Magdalena Medio region in the beginning of the 1980s, which had other interests, like being at the service of drug trafficking” according to the military.
Many of these groups formed after a 1989 ban on the armament of civilians and joined the AUC in 1997, which was declared a foreign terrorist organization by the US government in 2001.
A convenient truth
In its report, the military acknowledged that the army took part in paramilitary massacres that occurred after legislation that “criminalized the groups of the AUC,” but denied systematic support.
Instead, the military report focused on the rise of the paramilitary groups at the height of the Cold War in the 1960’s following legislation that “allowed citizens to defend their property against attacks of guerrilla organizations.”
The military omitted to provide information on infamous military operations carried out with the AUC, like the 1997 “Operation Genesis” that marked the beginning of the AUC’s territorial expansion that received logistical support of the National Army.
Army attempt to bend truth “normal”
The president of the Truth Commission, father Francisco de Roux, said last year he considered that the military instruction to present a convenient truth was “normal.”
We think it is normal for the institutions to have institutional points of view, it even seems important to us that they have a reasonable explanation of the way they acted and their own point of view.
Truth Commission president Francisco de Roux
Ultimately, it will be up to the Truth Commission to present a reconstruction of the truth based on the contributions of not just the military, but also former FARC and AUC members, and victim organizations.