The family of late presidential candidate Alvaro Gomez rejected FARC leaders’ confession they were behind the 1995 assassination of one of Colombia’s most legendary politicians.
Almost 25 years after the assassination, FARC leaders said they were responsible for the murder they were never suspected of.
Gomez’ nephew Enrique, who is the family’s attorney, fiercely criticized the former guerrilla leaders’ surprise confession, claiming they were “washing the hands of [former president] Ernesto Samper,” who has been mentioned as one of the suspects.
The Gomez family has heard multiple hypotheses over the past 25 years, but never one that involved the FARC, whose leaders provided no evidence to corroborate their self-proclaimed responsibility.
Additionally, Enrique Gomez couldn’t hide his frustration that the 2016 peace deal exempts the FARC from serving time in prison unlike the suspects mentioned in 25 years of fruitless criminal investigations.
Eye witnesses said that one of the two hitmen dressed in black and armed with machine guns opened fire on Gomez’s car as it was leaving the university parking lot while the second one was shooting in the air, presumably to generate the panic.
The two assassins had been hanging around the university for at least half an hour and fled on a motorcycle after riddling Gomez’s car with bullets, the eye witnesses said.
The conservative leader’s driver survived the attack and drove his fatally injured boss and bodyguard to the nearby El Country hospital where both men died of their injuries shortly after their arrival.
Hours after the attack, police claimed to have arrested one of the assassins, a 25-year-old man who was allegedly carrying a revolver. Because eye witnesses were explicit the assassins used machine guns the suspect was ultimately released.
Theory 1: army involvement in assassination
The military became the first real suspect of the assassination days after Gomez’s death after press reported that the Jeep of General Eduardo Cifuentes, the director of the military academy, had been driving around in the neighborhood around the time of the attack.
The prosecution charged the former commander of the National Army’s 10th Brigade, retired colonel Bernardo Ruiz, with the murder in 1999, claiming the military decided to assassinate him because he refused to take part in a ploy to oust Samper.
Ruiz was absolved, but the theory was shared by former US ambassador Myles Frechette, who said in 2015 that “personally, I believe some people on the right and possibly members of the military did it.”
At one moment, many distinguished members of Colombian society and Colombian politics came to my home to tell me “look, what would be the United States’ position if there were to be a coup here?” “Don’t even joke about it, no way,” I said, “that is the past and no longer part of our foreign policy” and they said “and you don’t want to ask Washington?’ and I said “I don’t have to ask Washington, enough.”
Former US ambassador Myles Frechette
Former chief prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre subsequently said that a demobilized member of paramilitary organization AUC confirmed that imprisoned army general Rito Alejo del Rio had met with paramilitary associates to plan multiple assassinations, including that of Gomez.
Montealegre’s successor, former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, opened criminal investigations against three top police officials in 2018 for allegedly trying to frustrate the investigation in the aftermath of the murder.
Theory 2: Samper ordered assassination of critic
The Gomez family has been more inclined to believe that Samper and former Senator Horacio Serpa ordered the assassination over the conservative politician’s claim they knew that Samper’s 1994 election was financed by the Cali Cartel.
This theory was first coined by extradited drug lord Luis Hernando Gomez, a.k.a. “Rasguño,” who claimed in 2010 that the Liberal Party politicians had teamed up with narcos to get rid of Gomez.
According to Rasguño, he overheard former Norte del Valle Cartel bosses Orlando Henao and “Don Efra,” and the late founder of paramilitary organization AUC, Carlos Castaño, fight over the murder in early 1996, months after the assassination.
Carlos told them that they had no reason to kill Alvaro Gomez and less to protect a bandit like Samper, that Samper was a bandit just like Serpa and that he knew that he hadn’t killed Serpa because Serpa was a friend of ours, but that Serpa was a total guerrilla.
Rasguño additionally claimed that Henao told him that “Gomez was preparing a coup with the military and the Bogota elite,” to oust Samper, so the Norte del Valle cartel boss, “‘El Gordo’ and Horacio ordered” to kill the Conservative Party mogul.
The narco’s claims were rejected over inconsistencies and a lack of evidence.
In September, however, the Gomez family said that evidence that Samper ordered national intelligence chief Ramiro Bejarano to illegally profile his rival.
“This confirms what Bejarano and Samper have always denied, which is that Alvaro Gomez was being shadowed by the [now-defunct intelligence agency] DAS, days before his death; as Fernando Botero stated at the time,” the family lawyer said.
Theory 3: The FARC killed ‘military objective’
According to the FARC, their former guerrilla group assassinated Gomez because the Conservative Party mogul “was considered a military objective and a class enemy who represented those who declared war on the recently born FARC-EP” in 1964.
While the FARC leaders provided a motive, the former guerrilla commanders provided no evidence or specifics that would support their claim.
We recognize that it was a mistake to have assassinated a politician of the stature of Alvaro Gomez. We have read his biographies and today we know that his contribution to the peace of the country would have been fundamental. But war clouds the vision of the future and only allow to see reality in black and white to divide it into friends and enemies.
Most painfully, the former guerrilla leaders asked forgiveness to the Gomez family while destroying the victims’ hypothesis that Samper was involved.
Instead of providing closure to their alleged victims, the former FARC commanders ripped open the wounds of the Gomez family, who pointed out that the former guerrillas undermined ongoing prosecution investigations while enjoying immunity as part of a 2016 peace deal.