Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Murderers: Select Your Victims Carefully!

When two taxis drivers and their accomplices assaulted a foreigner who'd just left a north Bogotá bar recently, they committed the worst mistake of their lives. The victim of their would-be paseo millonario turned out to be a United States DEA agent, who fought back and fled the taxi, only to die soon after from stab wounds.

The Colombian police, supported and pressured by the U.S., made quick work of this robbery-turned-tragedy. The upscale crime scene was full of video cameras, which, combined with sources amongst the taxi drivers, enabled the police to identify the alleged muggers. Today, some six people are in custody and there's talk of them being extradited to the U.S. for trial and imprisonment (which makes not sense to me). City officials are looking at ways to reform the taxi industry to keep out criminals.

The episode is a success for the law and hopefully sends a message to perpetrators of the notorious paseo millonario, or secuestro express, in which taxistas and their accomplices rob passengers and drive them around, forcing them to withdraw money from their bank accounts.

A graffiti on a pole in central Bogotá pays tribute to
the mothers of the false positives victims from Soacha .
But contrast the quick handling of the DEA agent's case with that of five young men from Soacha, a poor area in south Bogotá, who five years ago were kidnapped, murdered, disguised as guerrillas and deposited in mass graves near the Venezuelan border. They were the most notorious victims in the 'false positives' scandal, in which military units kidnapped and murdered thousands of young men and dressed them as guerrillas in order to obtain bonuses or vacation time.

More than 21 military personnel have been charged for either participating in the killings of the five Soacha victims or the ensuing cover-up.

But today, the mothers of the five young men complain that the case has stalled as the courts accept one delaying manuever after another from the mlitary lawyers.

"It's not fair that, after five years of the case, every time we go to court, the military officials say 'There's no hearing. Stop the hearing,' one of the mothers told El Espectador.

The women also complain that their own lawyers no longer return their telephone calls - perhaps because the women are poor, or because the lawyers have been intimidated or threatened. Recently, a judge denied the women's request to carry out a key round of tests on the evidence. The horrific false positives episode, which took place during the aggressive anti-guerrilla war carried out by the Uribe administration, received a great deal of attention in the Colombian and international press. Human rights organizations denounced the killings.

It's great to see Colombian police respond aggressively and effectively in the DEA agent's case. He was newly married, and the capture of the apparent killers provides some solace to his wife and family. But if only the legal system gave equal importance to all victims, particularly when they are the humblest Colombians.


mauricio forero l said...

Excellent post Mike. I do not agree with you do, when you say that is great that the police responded so fast for the killing of the DEA agent. They are moving their assess fast because of the USA demands, other ways they would be doing nothing about it. This and the killings of the young men from Soacha are one more prove of the inefficiency, awful corruption and evilness of the military and the police and, not just in Colombia, but all around the world. I do believe that one of the most evil things in this world is the Army as an institution of repression and as an industry of destruction.

Miguel said...

It's a good thing that the police caught the alleged murderers, whatever or whoever pressured them to do it.


Miguel said...

It's a good thing that the police caught the alleged murderers, whatever or whoever pressured them to do it.


Stuart Oswald said...

Murderers: Don't be a murderer and murder at all.