BOGOTA, COLOMBIA: Colombia’s defense minister resigned Wednesday after coming underneath hearth for failing to reveal the deaths of a number of minors in a army operation towards dissidents belonging to the nation’s as soon as largest guerrilla.
Guillermo Botero submitted a resignation letter to President Ivan Duque, touting his achievements in lowering crime whereas stating that the present “political circumstances” had compelled him to step down.
“I’ve accepted the resignation,” Duque introduced on Twitter. “I wish to thank him for his dedication, sacrifice and management.”
The previous minister has been going through mounting criticism over his dealing with of a number of incidents highlighting Colombia’s ongoing battle to defeat unlawful armed teams with out repeating previous errors and rights abuses.
On Tuesday, Sen. Roy Barreras accused Botero of neglecting to tell the general public that a minimum of seven minors had been killed in a army operation towards dissidents with the previous Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia throughout a heated debate in congress.
Botero described the accusations as “speculative info” and the army denied it knew that minors have been current.
Nonetheless, the chief prosecutor’s workplace confirmed Wednesday that eight minors died within the late August operation in San Vicente del Caguan, a area as soon as managed by the rebels, who signed an historic peace accord ending Latin America’s longest-working battle in 2016.
“I am satisfied the minister withheld info not simply from Colombians however from the president,” Barreras mentioned Wednesday. “This can be a wake-up name for the federal government, demanding they redirect the nationwide agenda.”
The outrage over the deaths follows a quantity of different incidents elevating considerations concerning the army’s conduct and their response to a rising tide of violence towards indigenous communities and social leaders.
In a single current incident, a person residing within the violence-plagued area of Cauca was killed in what the army has described as an operation towards dissident guerrillas however which close by residents contend was a murder.
Two separate massacres in Cauca in late October, together with one which left 5 indigenous leaders lifeless, outraged Colombians and underlined persevering with safety threats in areas the place remnant unlawful armed teams are battling over territory and profitable drug routes.
Legislators debated eradicating Botero again in June, following revelations that a military basic had commanded troops to double the quantity of leftist guerrillas and criminals killed, captured or compelled to give up in fight. The rules raised considerations a couple of heightened threat of civilian casualties.
Colombia’s army has been blamed for as many as 5,000 extrajudicial killings on the heights of the nation’s armed battle within the mid-2000s as troops underneath strain by high commanders inflated physique counts, in some instances dressing up civilians as guerrillas in trade for further pay and different perks.
What grew to become generally known as the “false positives” scandal forged a darkish shadow over the army’s document of battleground victories.
Botero first denied the existence of the brand new pointers, however the army later introduced it was retracting the order.
“That is clearly someone who ought to have by no means been appointed to that place,” mentioned Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch. “I am frankly stunned that he survived for thus lengthy.”


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