The United States have frozen US$72 million in aid that will not be
released until Colombia knows to clarify extrajudicial executions carried out by
the army and the role of the military’s top commanders in these human
According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) announced the freezing of aid and demands concrete results in the investigation of the ‘false positives’ scandal and answers about the resignation of former army commander Mario Montoya, who, despite being suspected of knowing about the massive murders on innocent civilians, was appointed ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
“General Montoya resigned under the pressure that was unleashed after the false positives scandal and was “punished”, as happens too often in Colombia, by being named ambassador,” a document quoted by the Bogotá newspaper and signed by Leahy said.
The senator and member of the Senate’s Approbations Committee also criticizes the appointment of Oscar Gonzalez as successor of Montoya.
“Until recently, González was commander of the 4th Brigade in Antioquia, which is where the worst rates of extrajudicial executions are. It is difficult to believe that he was not aware of what his troops were doing and raises concerns about his credentials for a position of this importance,” the document continues.
Leahy praises Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos for taking action after the scandal was revealed, but says that little has been done to prosecute and punish those who are responsible. The senator also criticizes that the Colombian Government ignored indications that the army was conducting widespread human rights violations until the scandal was all over the news in Colombia and abroad.
In the document, Leahy assures that he “wants to continue supporting Colombia”, but first needs to “determine what is working and what deserves the support.”
The ‘false positives’ scandal, the murdering of civilians to report them as guerrillas killed in combat, led to the resignation and dismissal of dozens of military officials. None of them have appeared in court so far. According to the Prosecutor General’s offic, more than 700 military officials are suspected of having murdered innocent civilians.