Colombia: President Duque Must End Judicial Travesty
Decision making is the job of the president, and Ivan Duque was elected by the right, by Uribe's voters. The correct and the ethical thing to do and what the Colombian people have asked for would be to end the JEP
We cannot allow a handful of judges to strike, protect the drug-traffickers, and put guerillas in the Congress. The Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was born in Havana. It is the brainchild of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerillas. It is a transitional justice created for and by the guerillas.
The first day that Rodrigo Londoño, the leader of the narco-guerrilla group, FARC, attended the JEP, he said, “this is a unique tribunal, a unique experience in the world, created by the insurgents themselves.”
Although the majority of Colombians already knew that the Havana agreement was a disgrace for our country and that the JEP was only going to end in strange impunity, the events of the last month when the tribunal started functioning have gone awry, and we have all been surprised and helpless.
At the end of the last year, the country listened to the audio records obtained by the Attorney General in which the administrative director of the JEP, Martha Lucia Zamora, and contractor Yuli Milena Enriquez spoke about how they could justify the departure of the FARC leaders from the “territorial zones.”
In one of the audios, Zamora is heard telling her employee, “Why don’t we avoid these problems and tell them to send (the guerillas) a letter saying that for reasons of their work or whatever, they are located in such a part…. They should lower a little bit because we are going to be told to start looking for them.”
The administrative director of the JEP was caught trying to arrange everything so that the Attorney General’s office and the government would not find out that the FARC leaders are where they want to be and are doing as they please.
Later, at the beginning of March of this year, Carlos Bermeo, a JEP attorney, was arrested along with four other suspects. The Public Prosecutor’s Office established in the indictment hearing that Bermeo had agreed to a bribe of 500,000 dollars, of which he received 40,000 as an advance to intervene in the case of the extradition of the narco-guerrilla leader Jesús Santrich.
Colombians saw on cable news a video of the attorney of the JEP receiving a wad of bills under the table, allegedly, to help Santrich.
There are many scandals. We can easily list the top ten worst scandals of the JEP where we can recount, for example, the corrupt contracts, the millionaire expenses, and the ineptitude, and the cooperation of the JEP vis-à-vis the behavior of characters like “el paisa” and other leaders of the FARC whose whereabouts we don’t know at the moment. Undoubtedly, the attempted release of Jesus Santrich would top the list of JEP scandals.
Santrich is one of the top leaders of FARC who has a seat in Congress thanks to the Havana agreement. He has never been able to assume his role because he was arrested on the 9th of April on request by a judge in New York. He is accused of sending large quantities of drugs from Colombia to the United States. After his arrest, the country watched the video where the guerilla is negotiating a drug deal with some Mexicans, who are in reality undercover DEA agents.
Despite the interactions being filmed, and despite the request for extradition by the USA, the JEP, last week, decided to order the immediate release of the guerilla leader. Fortunately, he was recaptured by the Attorney General’s Office within a few minutes when he was about to leave La Picota prison.
The accuser argued that it had new evidence in the trial of the guerilla and the circumstances of “the time, place, and method of the code of conduct for narco-trafficking” attributed to Santrich were obvious.
Today, faced with what has happened to Santrich, Ivan Marquez, another FARC leader, threatened from hiding, “Giving up arms was a grave error.”
Marquez said, “It was naive of us to forget the words of our commander in chief Marulanda Velez when he warned us that arms were the only guarantee of compliance with agreements. The sad reality is that we have been tricked.”
Are these statements threats that we should let them govern the country and continue with the drug trafficking business? It seems so, yes.
Those of us who voted ‘no’ for the Havana agreement and many others who now see the reality know that FARC never gave up its arms. We must remember that the day they supposedly gave up their arms, they forbade the media from entering the area and film the occasion. It was done behind closed doors without any guarantee.
Not only did they not give up arms, but they didn’t stop their businesses either. Santrich was caught negotiating the shipment of drugs because former FARC guerillas still control a large part of the more than 200,000 hectares of land under coca cultivation.
Sadly, I have to say that the FARC leaders are not alone. Respected journalists defend them. For example, the famous María Jimena Duzán, said this week, “in Colombia a coup d ‘état that could put an end to judicial autonomy, independence of powers and freedom of expression is taking place.”
However, Duzán doesn’t talk about the strikes by the Cortes; she doesn’t refer to the damage caused to the country by an agreement in Havana which was rejected by a majority of Colombians. When she says that a coup d ‘état is being planned, she is not referring to the fact that on behalf of the high courts it is possible that extradition will end, that crimes committed by the FARC against minors will go unpunished, and that people like Santrich will pay “Congress for jail.”
For this journalist, the coup is being carried out by former president Uribe along with former prosecutor because, among other things, they can’t agree that the worst assassins of Colombia, the guerillas, without serving a sentence, are the ones legislating the country.
To understand the extent of the delusion of this journalist, one merely has to read her reaction to the video that Colombians watched of Santrich negotiation the shipment of drugs. “The video where Santrich is seen doing suspicious things sparked outrage among people who cared little that it was illegally recorded,” she said.
However, despite these journalists, and despite the influential leftists who seem to have been hired to defend FARC, we Colombians have excellent common sense. Even before all this happened, we went out there to reject the Havana agreement.
Decision making is the job of the president, and Ivan Duque was elected by the right, by Uribe’s voters. The correct and the ethical thing to do and what the Colombian people have asked for would be to end the JEP.
We can’t allow a tribunal established by FARC, as they describe it, to not only release the worst criminals in the history of Colombia but to put them in Congress to make laws.
Last Friday, when Santrich was arrested again, I saw many Colombians who had previously lost trust in Duque once again applaud the president for doing the right thing. Millions of Colombians are thanking the president and members of the Democratic Centre and other parties like MIRA for ignoring the delusional left-wing journalists who are completely out-of-touch with what the majority of Colombians want and the means they consider for bringing order to the Colombian justice system.
President Ivan Duque does not have an easy task. However, he has the opportunity and the moral duty to go down in history, similar to Alvaro Uribe, as the president who saved us from FARC.