The head of the Colombian army denied Monday that he has put pressure on his senior officers to significantly increase the number of rebels or members of the cartels killed or captured during military operations.
This denial follows the publication of a New York Times article this weekend in which military sources claim that the army has ordered the number of dead or arrested guerrillas or criminals to double, at the risk of increasing collateral damage and civilian casualties.
“I did not exert any pressure,” the commander of the national army, General Nicacio de Jesus Martinez, told the press. “No battalion commander has been relieved of his duties because of his results.”
The New York Times writes that Martinez has ordered the doubling of operational results. The article compares this instruction with the so-called “false positives” scandal of the late 2000s, when it was revealed that some units of the army had killed civilians and then made their victims for guerrillas to inflate. their results and get rewards from their superiors.
Dozens of former soldiers were sentenced in connection with the scandal. Most of the victims were poor young men from rural areas or shantytowns.
Colombian Defense Minister Guillermo Botero has admitted that since 2007 the army has been encouraging an increase in the capture or surrender of members of cartels and guerrillas, rather than their deaths.
But he denied the existence of pressure on commanders, or incentives such as increased leave, to achieve such results.
The Colombian armed forces have increased their operations by 110% since President Ivan Duque came to power in August 2018, according to Minister Botero, who explains the sharp rise by a resurgence in drug trafficking.