National Security Archive. Colombia Truth Commission Opens Doors, But Faces Significant Barriers to Access. Database of Declassified U.S. Records Provides Essential Evidence on Colombian Conflict.
November 29, 2018 – The formal launch today in Colombia of the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition(Truth Commission) is an important step forward in the country’s effort to consolidate peace, guarantee the rights of victims, and move forward after a long and brutal conflict that took hundreds of thousands of lives. To mark the occasion, the National Security Archive is posting 12 documents from a database of over 20,000 declassified records donated to the Truth Commission earlier this year as part of our commitment to supporting the Right to Truth and the rights of the victims of Colombia’s conflict.
Starting today, the 11-member Truth Commission has three years to complete a final report on more than 50 years of political violence and civil war. Among the chief goals of the Commission is to clarify grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and to delineate the collective responsibilities of the Colombian state, insurgent groups like the FARC, right-wing “paramilitary” groups, narcotraffickers, foreign governments, and third parties (“terceros”) such as multinational corporations.Unlike the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a separate tribunal established to prosecute the conflict’s worst abuses, the Truth Commission’s investigations are extrajudicial in nature. More than just a cataloging of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and military confrontations, the Commission’s mandate is to investigate the causes and consequences of the conflict, to grapple with its complexity, to shine a light on the less-understood aspects of the violence, and to produce a comprehensive narrative on the conflict with a focus on victims (…)
(…) In another ominous sign, Gonzalo Sánchez, the longtime director of the National Center for Historical Memory and a good friend of the National Security Archive, this month resigned his post, saying that “the political atmosphere” had forced him to step aside. In an interviewwith Colombia’s El Espectador, Sánchez said he feared the “political instrumentalization” of the institution, a state organization which has been performing a truth-commission-like function since long before peace talks even began. “There are those who want to view the Center for Historical Memory as a counterweight to the Truth Commission,” he said.
Colombia has been a major focus of U.S. intelligence reporting since the founding of the CIA in 1947, and the United States has been Colombia’s closest military and intelligence partner (by far) since the two countries fought side-by-side in the Korean War in the 1950s (…)
Over nearly three decades, the National Security Archive has provided tens of thousands of pages of declassified evidence to post-conflict truth commissions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, East Timor, Brazil and elsewhere. The Archive has also promoted “declassified diplomacy” under both Democratic and Republican presidents to expedite the release of important U.S. files for truth commissions, trials and other inquests. In the last two years alone, the Archive helped to shepherd the release of thousands of secret records on the dirty wars in Argentina and Chile.
The Archive’s Colombia project has unearthed important documents on the 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice, the so-called “Godfather” of Colombian Army intelligence, Colombia’s paramilitary “Emerald Czar,”the so-called “false positives” scandalin which Colombian Army officers murdered innocent Colombians and falsely presented them as insurgents killed during combat operations; and the links between prominent politicians and narcotraffickers. The Archive’s Chiquita Paperscollection shows how the giant fruit multinational contributed to armed actors on all sides of the conflict (…)
Colombia project: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/project/colombia-project