Who is behind the militarization of the streets in Colombia?

Who is behind the militarization of the streets in Colombia?

In the midst of the worst protests that his mandate has endured, and that has already officially left 19 dead, the president of Colombia, Ivan DuqueHe decided to take the military out to the streets to bring order and control the riots.

Although the president has already backed off with the tax reform, the central axis of the protests, this has been the trigger to increase the discontent of the population towards Duque’s management.

The repression and police brutality have been condemned by the UN and the European Union, as well as various human rights organizations, but the Colombian authorities point out that criminal gangs and armed groups have infiltrated the demonstrations, causing destruction and vandalism.

This Tuesday, the Minister of Defense, Diego molano, and the director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas, they gave a press conference to take stock of the situation, in which, basically, they defended the conduct of the forces of order.

“Our Public Force has the mission of protecting citizens who mobilize in social marches, but they have to be relentless with those who use vandalism and terrorist actions that seek to destroy cities and affect stability in some regions”, Molano pointed out.

For his part, the Director of the Police, General Vargas, assured that “No one has given instructions to shoot”. As detailed by “El Tiempo”, the uniformed men who accompany the marches are unarmed, but he pointed out that those on guard duty do carry weapons within the constitutional framework and that they only act upon them in the event of a criminal act.

The administrator Molano

Minister Diego Molano, 50, came to the Defense portfolio last February to fill the position of Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who died at the end of January a victim of COVID-19.

Since the end of October, Molano, of the Uribe party Centro Democrático, was director of the Administrative Department of the Presidency and since 2016 he was a councilor for the city of Bogotá.

At a press conference, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano (center), flanked by the director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas (right), and the commander of the Military Forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro (left). PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE OF COLOMBIA.
At a press conference, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano (center), flanked by the director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas (right), and the commander of the Military Forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro (left). PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE OF COLOMBIA.

This business administrator from Universidad del Rosario completed a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

According to the Colombian portal La Silla Vacía, Molano was a professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Government and International Relations at the Universidad del Rosario.

In 2003, then-President Álvaro Uribe called him to coordinate the social aspect of Plan Colombia, the bilateral agreement between the United States and Colombia to fight drug trafficking and combat the guerrillas.

During the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos, he was also in charge of various social programs.

In 2015, he was the programmatic head of Francisco Santos’ campaign for the mayor of Bogotá.

Last April, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano greeted soldiers during military exercises in La Guajira. EFE / Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda
Last April, Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano greeted soldiers during military exercises in La Guajira. EFE / Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda

Regarding the protests, Molano has defended the actions of the armed forces, blaming infiltrated vandals for the violence. “Colombia faces a particular threat with criminal organizations that are behind these violent acts”, the defense minister said at a press conference on Monday.

“It is not the peaceful marchers, it is not the citizens who have not marched and who are at home, they are those vandals who mimic themselves and have carried out premeditated acts, organized and financed by dissident groups from the FARC and the ELN who seek destabilize some regions for particular purposes ”, assured the official.

General Vargas

Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia has been the director of the Colombian Police since December 2020. 54 years old and born in Bucaramanga, he is the son and son-in-law of police generals.

As “La Silla Vacía” details, he entered the police cadet school in 1985 and specialized in business administration, conflict resolution, and public safety.

General Jorge Luis Vargas, director of the Colombian Police.
General Jorge Luis Vargas, director of the Colombian Police.

He was in the Metropolitan Police of Bogotá and commanded the El Dorado airport police in the Colombian capital, as well as in the intelligence section of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol.

He was Director of Police Intelligence from 2008 to 2016 and under his direction – according to “Semana” – several coups were carried out against the FARC and drug cartels.

“One of the most outstanding achievements is that the high-ranking uniformed man was part of the team that led the operations in which ex-guerrilla commanders such as Raúl Reyes, Alfonso Cano and ‘El Mono Jojoy’ were killed”, they report.

At the press conference on Tuesday, the Director of Police said that “They act under the rigor of the defense and protection of Human Rights”. However, he specified that 26 investigations have been opened for complaints of violence and police abuse, and reiterated that they will collaborate with the processes initiated by the control bodies.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.