Former FARC fighters ask Juan Manuel Santos to answer for the death of “Alfonso Cano”

Members of the Common Party claim that the former guerrilla chief was killed in a state of defenselessness in 2011, following an order from the president of that time

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon arrives to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France May 30, 2018.  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon arrives to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

This Tuesday, March 15, the report 'War Crimes and Human Rights Violations Committed by the Military Forces and State Security Agencies between 1964-2016' was presented to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), prepared by several of the signatories of the Peace Agreement, as well as by the Lawyers Collective José Alvear Restrepo and the Lazos de Dignity Foundation.

The report was received by Judge Marcela Giraldo, from the Reconnaissance Chamber, who explained that “this will enter into the Chamber's verification processes, within the investigation of the cases that the JEP has already opened and in which it will soon open”. Within the report, the FARC assures that in the context of the armed conflict, countless violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) were brought against the guerrilla group.

During the event, several members of the Common Party such as “Joaquín Gomez”, Victoria Sandino and Benedicto de Jesús González Montenegro, asked the Special Jurisdiction for La Paz (JEP) to call the former President of the Republic Juan Manuel Santos for the bombing in which he died at that time chief of this former guerrilla, Guillermo León Sáenz Vargas, alias 'Alfonso Cano'.

According to the former head of the guerrilla group and member of the former secretariat, the death of Alfonso Cano is a crime against humanity since he was killed in a “defenseless state”. It should be noted that Cano was killed in November 2011 in Suárez (Cauca), as part of the Odysseus operation in which a bombardment was carried out on the camp where he was staying.

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As ex-combatants present at the fall of the guerrilla leader have said on several occasions, he was shot on his knees and asked the soldiers to respect his life. During the event with the jurisdiction of peace González Montenegro, representative of the House and signatory of peace, said that “there is a statement by former President Juan Manuel Santos himself, Nobel Peace Prize winner and signatory of the agreement where he claims he gave the order to assassinate Alfonso Cano, when he was already defenseless.”

Operation Odysseus is considered to be the greatest blow to subversion in its history, since it was the first time that a top commander of the guerrilla group died in combat. According to official information, the operation was the result of internal collaboration of the FARC and intelligence from different sources. After the operation, Santos insisted on asking the guerrillas to “demobilize. Don't keep them waiting. Otherwise, jail or a grave awaits them.”

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In the same vein, the Representative to the House, said that other former presidents of the Republic are also in arrears of responding for the excesses and other violations of IHL that they would have incurred during their administrations, “Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe Vélez, have been excluded from the responsibility they have as head of State in the context of the conflict,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Victoria Sandino pointed to the need to recognize that several former guerrillas and former FARC commanders were victims in the context of the conflict, “we recognize those responsibilities, we continue to respond to the calls of the JEP, but that does not take away the violations of which we were subjected or victims of several of our fellow members of the former FARC,” he said.