Before the smoke had cleared after last week’s attack on former minister Fernando Londoño in Bogota, former President Alvaro Uribe wasted no time in jumping to conclusions, blaming Colombian guerrilla group the FARC for the explosion.
The accusations came before police were able to cordon off the area where the bomb planted on the former minister’s car had killed Londoño’s bodyguard and driver while injuring 48 bystanders.
It is not unthinkable that the FARC carried out this attack. It is, however, not the most probable hypothesis. It is true that the FARC probably hate Londoño’s guts given the former minister and the guerrillas’ opposing views, but that doesn’t automatically make the organization the prime suspect.
The attack was carried out exactly on the same day that Congress debated the government’s “Framework for Peace” proposal which would set boundaries to legal benefits granted to demobilized members of illegal armed groups like the FARC.
To me it makes much more sense that the attack was carried out either by dissidents within the FARC, or opponents of the peace legislation, instead of the group that stands to benefit from the bill.
Without jumping to conclusions and without blaming anyone before authorities conclude their investigation, I think we need not rule out other obvious suspects. Namely, neo-paramilitary groups who would face more concentrated military force, or even the army itself that would face serious cutbacks the moment there was no longer the threat of Latin America’s largest and oldest guerrilla group.
Mind you that it wouldn’t be the first time that the FARC was accused of carrying out an attack that in fact was carried out by state forces. I would like to remind you of the 2005 attack on Londoño’s successor, current Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras, that according to the archives of the now-dismantled intelligence agency DAS, was carried out by state intelligence agents. The Uribe administration blamed the FARC for the attack at the time as well.
I am no fan of conspiracy theories, but the subsequent reaction of Uribe and Londoño (both vociferous opponents of the Framework legislation) on the attack and sudden intimidating rumors from within the military about a possible coup, raised my suspicions.
The finding of some half-assed bomb found more than 24 hours before Colombia’s former president was to speak in Argentina raised my doubts even further. Let’s be fair, there’s probably a bunch of people in Argentina who think Uribe’s a jerk, but the ones who would go as far as to assassinate the former president are in Colombia. The Argentines have their own politicians to worry about.
The Bogota attack and the Argentine bomb have given the opponents of any peace legislation a perfect and timely motive to bash the Colombian government and Congress for even considering peace, and have not hesitated, even for a moment, to do so.
However, if we want to prevent horrible attacks like this from taking place we need to allow the authorities to carry out their investigation, considering all leads and multiple theories, and not force them to pick a politically convenient culprit.
If we fall into this trap, then we are only proving attacks like this are worthwhile, and can only expect more of them to occur.