Colombia: ongoing state collaboration with paras?

The dark days of state collaboration with Colombia's murderous paramilitary groups were recalled with the arrest in New York last month of Javier Valle Anaya, former sub-director of Bogotá's Administrative Security Department (DAS), a now-disbanded intelligence agency that was found to be feeding information to the paras. Valle Anaya was detained on an immigration violation, and may face extradition back to Colombia, where he is wanted in connection with the 2004 assassination of human rights activist Alfredo Correa De Andreis in Barranquilla. (El Tiempo, Oct. 12) Ironically, the arrest comes just as a new scandal has emerged concerning an illegal network of chuzadas—Colombian slang for eavesdroppers. Retired National Police general Humberto Guatibonza was arrested in Bogotá Oct. 24, charged with running a chuzada ring that spied on labor activists—particularly members of the airline workers union, ACDAC. He has been placed under house arrest while the case is being investigated. (Caracol Radio, Oct. 31; W Radio, RCN Radio, Oct. 24)

The ongoing assassination of social leaders in Colombia shows no sign of relenting. A new report from the group Programa Somos Defensores, entitled "Más Allá de las Cifras" (Beyond the Figures), finds that between 2009 and 2017 at least 563 social leaders and rights defenders were slain in Colombia, yet only 48 have been sentenced for these killings. (Semana, Sept. 24)

The government did claim a blow against the illegal terror networks with the arrest in September of two accused sicarios (assassins) for the 12 Apostles death-squad. But the crimes they are accused of took place in the 1990s. (Prensa Rural, Sept. 16)

And top figures in the security forces continue to baselessly tar social leaders as collaborators with illegal armed groups—implicitly making them targets for attack. Defense Minister Guillermo Botero, speaking in September to a meeting of the national chamber of commerice (Confecamaras) in Cartagena, said that armed groups including the ELN guerillas, the Clan del Golfo cartel and even (ironically) right-wing paramilitaries such as Los Pelusos and Puntilleros, are "financing social protest." He added, rhetorically addressing Colombia's social movements, "[E]very time you close the Panamericana [highway], behind this there are always mafia organizations." (El Tiempo, Sept. 13)

Campesinos have repeatedly blocked roads in Colombia in recent years to demand land restitution, rural development, agrarian reform, and an end to coca eradication.