On Saturday, weekly newspaper El Espectador published on his page 16A a “paid advertising” featuring an interview with Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo, also known as Javier Montañez or Macaco, former commander of the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) now demobilized Central Caribbean Bloc (BCB), whose “Justice and Peace” confession is scheduled for this week. Jiménez presents himself as a “peace businessman”. Jiménez replaced late Carlos Castaño as the BCB commander, when he joined the AUC while being a drug dealer (he could be extradited to the US because of this).
Of course, the Fundación Villa de la Esperanza, which paid the ad, is supported by Jiménez. In the “self-interview”, Jiménez keeps justifying the reasons he entered the AUC, claiming he was forced to do so. About paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso’s confession three weeks ago, when he implicated a lot of key people in Colombian politics (including current Vice President Francisco Santos and his cousin, Minister of Defence Juan Manuel Santos), economy, military, police and even large American and domestic companies, which allegedly supported the paramilitary death squads, Macaco says: “Mancuso’s truth is his truth and this country won’t be able to take it as a thermometre to measure we the ones who follow him, because my truth, as the other commanders’ one, has another nuances. My truth is, mainly, the one about the confrontation against guerrillas and the liberation of some regions from the insurgent oppression”. Later, he says “if the truth [will lead] to rise more resentment, why [should I] tell the truth?”. His confession will refer about “the confrontation of BCB in the regions and how illegal economies worked” there, where the 7,000 members of the BCB “worked”, from south of Bolívar Department, at the north of the country, passing by Santander Department and the Magdalena Medio region, until the Guaviare jungles and the southern Pacific coast, all places where they are allegedly responsible of massacres and murders.
El Espectador, regarded as one of the few examples of independence in Colombia (Guillermo Cano Isaza, his director in 1986, was murdered in front of the former offices of the then daily by hitmen hired by Pablo Escobar’s Cartel de Medellín… he would not ever allowed publishing this kind of “advertising”) is now under fire by most of its readers. After a financial crisis, it was bought by tycoon Julio Mario Santo Domingo in 1997 and became a weekly in 2001. One of the commentators at controversial and anti-Uribe journalist Felipe Zuleta’s blog (who is a columnist of El Espectador) sums the outrage up:
Leaving freedom of expression in the hands of [Carlos] Ardila Lülle (owner of RCN Radio and Fox News-like RCN TV), Julio Mario Santo Domingo (owner of El Espectador and Caracol TV), Jesús de Polanco (owner of Spain’s El País and Colombia’s Caracol Radio), Juan Gossain, [Darío] Arizmendi, [Julio] Sánchez Cristo (popular radio personalities), the Santos family (owners of El Tiempo, Colombia’s main and only daily national newspaper), etc., is like leaving convents in the hands of prostitutes.
This controversy happens days after opposition senator and former (demobilized in 1990) M-19 guerrilla Gustavo Petro told Financial Times that “the media have conditioned the public to believe that the leftwing guerrilla group, the FARC, is to blame for most of Colombia’s problems, while playing down the paramilitaries’ role”. Wrongly, the British daily adds that “the owners of some media groups have been accused of financing the paramilitaries”, which is not exactly true.
Many Macaco‘s “supporters” followed him to Medellín, where he’ll “confess” his crimes in order to get the benefits of the Justice and Peace Law. The enthusiasm of the people who consider him his “liberator” contrasts with the victims’ pictures showed by their relatives. The same happened last week when another two paramilitary chiefs were confessing. The worst of all is that, according to weekly newsmagazine Semana, Macaco, despite of the rivers of blood and death in the regions his paramilitary bloc “worked”, has not beed formally accused of crimes against humanity.
PS: Before ultra-right-wingers come here to insult me because I haven’t mentioned FARC criminals, I will have to remit them to the coverage made by Mr. Adam Isacson on his blog Plan Colombia and Beyond: the FARC-France-Colombia issue on “humanitarian interchange” (including the “unconditional” release of FARC’s “foreign minister” Rodrigo Granda by Sarkozy’s request) and the visit (again) of Álvaro Uribe to Washington.