Colombia: armed forces chief resigns in human rights scandal

Gen. Mario Montoya, commander of Colombia’s armed forces, resigned Nov. 4 after an investigation tied dozens of military personnel under his command to a growing scandal over the killing of civilians by the military in an apparent attempt to inflate the number of insurgents killed in combat by security forces.

The resignation of Montoya, 59, a US-trained officer who won acclaim for recent gains against the guerillas, comes amid a broad shake-up in the Colombian military. The government of President Álvaro Uribe fired 27 officers and soldiers last week, including three generals, over reports that young men had been lured from the poor barrios around Bogotá and taken to a war zone in northern Colombia, where they were killed by troops, classified as subversives and later found in unmarked graves.

“These killings permeate the entire military hierarchy and their civilian overseers,” opposition Sen. Gustavo Petro told the New York Times. “General Montoya’s resignation was necessary, but the administration must be held responsible for allowing crimes like these to occur.” (NYT, Nov. 5)

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