Sunday, May 19, 2019

N.Y. Times reports Colombia orders army to step up combat killings

A front page article in today's New York Times charges that General Nicacio Martinez Espinel, head of Colombia's army, has ordered his troops to double the number of criminals and militants they kill, capture or force to surrender in battle --and possibly accept higher civilian casualties in the process.  It alleges that Colombian generals and colonels were assembled and told to sign a written pledge to step up attacks.  The military tried a similar strategy in the 2000s to defeat Colombia's rebel and paramilitary groups, but the tactics caused a national outrage when it emerged that soldiers, aiming to meet their quotas, engaged in widespread killings and disappearances of civilians (known as "falsos positivos" or false positives).

Nicholas Casey, who wrote the story, is the NY Times Bureau Chief for the Andean region.  The article generated a torrent of commentary both in favor and against.  On Saturday, Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal tweeted: "This is the 'journalist' Nicholas Casey, who toured in 2016 with the FARC in the jungle.  How much did they pay him for that report?  And for this one now, against the Colombian army? #Casey is fake news."

Casey left Colombia on Sunday because of the false accusations launched against him on Saturday by Senator Cabal, which has been repeated by several politicians.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 51 journalists have been killed in Colombia since 1992.

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