Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Colombia, This Week in Latin America

Colombian Major and Four Soldiers Accused In “False Positive” Murders

January 4, 2011 By Staff

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Today in Latin America

Top StoryAuthorities brought accusations against a Colombian army major and four other soldiers Monday for the killing of three civilians  in 2002.

Maj. Juan Carlos Del Río Crespo and four other troops were charged with the deaths of three members of the Agudelo family in Antioquia state, about 180 miles northwest of Bogotá, and with falsely presenting their bodies as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group who were slain in combat.

The three members of the Agudelo family were seized from a sugarcane field where they were working and killed under orders from Major Del Río, investigators said.

Del Río and three soldiers are currently in jail, while authorities are still searching for the fourth soldier.

The revelations of these killings is another part of what has been dubbed the “false positive” scandal in Colombia, where soldiers killed civilians and claimed they were guerrillas. Colombian authorities are investigating the extrajudicial killings of 2,650 civilians and have about 1,100 soldiers under investigation.

It is alleged that the system offered soldiers and officers promotions or extra leave time for higher body counts. Since 2008, when the scandal first broke, 272 soldiers have been convicted and 58 have been absolved in similar cases.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America


  • The year 2011 will be a year of change marked by threats of war and coups, according to a statement issued by Cuba’s santería priests for the new year.
  • The first of the 500,000 state jobs cuts announced by the Cuban government have begun, according to an official quoted in the state press.
  • A feature article in Slate asks whether foreign aid is making Haiti more dependent.

Central America


  • The Lima Stock Exchange said Monday it has restarted the process of integration with the Chilean and Colombian exchanges, following a decision by Peru’s Congress to lower a capital-gains tax to five percent.
  • The government of President Rafael Correa plans to invest about $5 billion to build superhighways around the country up to 2014, the president said Saturday during his weekly media address.
  • A special court in Peru has ordered 30 army officers, including seven generals, to stand trial for allegedly participating in illegal fuel sales, the La Republica newspaper reported Sunday.

Southern Cone

Image: Center for American Progress @ Flickr.

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This post has been corrected. An earlier version erroneously stated that Cuba’s santería priests predicted a year of war and coup d’états in Cuba. In fact, the prediction was made without specifying a geographic location and refers to the world in general.


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