Recent findings of Colombia’s war crimes tribunal indicate that Medellin has been trying to hide the fact it is Latin America’s largest mass grave and may have been falsifying homicide rates for propaganda purposes.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) last week ordered to inspect two quarries where, according to a local court, more than 300 people are buried.
The city’s authorities reluctantly told the court it had buried at least 900 homicide victims at the municipal cemetery between 2002 and 2012 without efforts to identify the victims.
Because the city’s administration admitted to only have “precarious information” on how many unidentified bodies were really dumped in the municipal cemetery, the court ordered to “conduct interviews with the authorities in charge of the administration of the cemetery or with those in charge of keeping records of the entry, removal or movement of the bodies of buried persons.”
Mayor Federico Gutierrez additionally was trying to hide another 174 victims of forced disappearance, the court found out in an earlier hearing.
The JEP is stumbling upon all kinds of unexpected findings in its investigations into “Operation Orion,” a 2002 military operation carried out by the Medellin Police Department, the 4th Brigade and crime lord “Don Berna.”
For example, the city never investigated who owns the building that for years was used as paramilitary headquarters in the Comuna 13, apparently with the full knowledge of the city’s authorities.
The dodgy contractors
The court ordered to include city contractor El Condor S.A. in the investigation after finding out that it was still removing sand and possibly human remains from the La Arenera quarry, despite a 2015 Medellin court ruling confirming it was a mass grave.
In fact, prosecution officials told the court that the company had moved 80% of the sand in which victims of forced disappearance were believed to be buried between 2003 and 2015, the years in which both an associate of the Oficina de Envigado and a former mayor were members of the board of directors.
During the same period, Bioparques S.A. was dumping earth over the mass grave in La Escombrera with the blessing of the city hall and Governor Luis Perez.
The latest measures are part of a series to prevent the city’s authorities and contractors to continue to hide, lose or remove the remains of the Medellin’s crime syndicate’s victims of disappearance.
Propaganda over dead bodies
Based on the JEP’s finding, it appears that the city has been keeping at least 1,374 homicide victims of forced disappearance out of the books to prevent the city’s propaganda campaign being ruined by reality.
Medellin is a paradise today, but it’s going to be heaven when we don’t have criminals.
Security secretary Andres Felipe Tobon
Basically, the city has been falsifying its homicide rates while promoting its fake “transformation process.”
Foreign journalists have been offered paid trips to Latin America’s largest mass grave and appear to be lapping up the propaganda.
These advances in security led the city to become a kind of model in the region. The secretary acknowledged that delegations from several countries come permanently to Medellin to learn about the transformation process.
The war crimes tribunal appears to be ruining 15 years of propaganda in the city that has categorically rejected Colombia’s peace process.
La Escombrera and La Arenara are only the first mass graves investigated by the war crimes tribunal. Victims have told the court about 10 more mass graves and the JEP has only just begun. These claims will further be investigated when JEP magistrates return to Medellin in October.