Colombia’s Petro replaces military commanders in human rights campaign According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks after a bilateral meeting with Chilean President Gabriel Boric (not pictured) at Casa de Narino, in Bogota, Colombia, August 8, 2022. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Friday appointed new commanders to the army and police, saying he chose the officials because they were not accused of corruption or human rights violations.

Colombia’s security forces have a long history of corruption scandals and human rights abuses during the country’s nearly six decades of conflict.

Petro, a critic of the creation of the Colombian army and a former member of the M-19 guerrillas, has promised profound changes to the security forces and called on new officials to protect the integrity of the country. network.

The criteria for selecting new commanders is “no corruption, no violation of fundamental rights,” Petro told a news conference.

“The concept of human security means that success does not lie in the number of deaths, but in significantly reducing the number of deaths and massacres and in significantly increasing the freedom and rights of the people,” added Petro.

Petro said his government heralded a change in mentality and strategy, with the enemy no longer having to pay insurance premiums as a motivating factor for security personnel.

The President appointed General Helder Fernan Giraldo as commander of the armed forces, General Luis Mauricio Ospina to lead the army and Vice Admiral Francisco Hernando Cubides to head the Navy.

General Luis Carlos Cordoba will direct the Air Force and General Henry Armando Sanabria will be the national police.

Petro pledged during his election campaign that soldiers accused of human rights abuses would be tried in ordinary courts, rather than military courts.

He has also promised to remove police from the Department of Defense and dismantle their ESMAD riot squad, which has recently come under international criticism for its role in the protesters’ deaths.

The Andean country’s internal armed conflict, which lasted nearly 60 years, left an estimated 450,000 people dead between 1985 and 2018.

Petro has said the war on drugs has been a failure and in his inaugural address this week called for a new international strategy to combat human trafficking.

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