The bombing of Casa Verde and the other wave of dehumanizing war between the FARC and the State

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The attack, whose primary objective was to kill the entire secretariat of the then FARC guerrilla, definitively closed the door for that group to carry out part of the 1991 Constituent Assembly. More years of prolonged war followed by paramilitaries and the Armed Forces themselves


Oscar Mauricio López

The bombing of Casa Verde and the other wave of dehumanizing war between the FARC and the State

The bombing of Casa Verde was a resounding blow to the central structure of the FARC. However, this meant the end of a peace agreement that seemed prosperous and the beginning of another wave of bloody fighting between the guerrillas and the State Forces, largely supported by paramilitaries. PHOTO: Infobae (Jesús Avilés)

Four minutes after 8 a.m. on Sunday, December 9, 1990, four Colombian Air Force Kfir planes bombed Casa Verde, ending an agreed truce between the FARC and the National Army.

For state agents, Casa Verde had become the center of operations for what was once the oldest active guerrilla in the world, as well as the headquarters of the secretariat and the fort from which the money obtained from drug trafficking was administered. , kidnapping and extortion. The truth is that before these versions were confirmed, it was the venue for the peace talks that ended in the consolidation of the La Uribe Agreements in 1984.

When the negotiations ended, the FARC's expansion plans were developed at Casa Verde, according to the Truth Commission. The site was strategic for the guerrillas, as it gave them the opportunity to think about an offensive in Bogotá, thus breaking the sixty-year-old paradigm that the armed conflict was only “something” that was experienced in the countryside and that the capital of the country was immune.

The so-called 'Operation Colombia' by the Army was planned in such a way that the members of the secretariat were also killed in the bombardment. That day, after the passage of the Kfir, three Mirage M-5 planes flew over and took charge of the cambuches where, it was assumed, the leaders of that guerrilla were. But it wasn't like that. Days before they had been warned, nobody knows who did it.

However, an ex-combatant told the Commission that, “we had the information that the Government would launch a attack at the beginning of 1991 and his determination not to advance talks if they did not lead to the demobilization of the insurgency”. The entity also details that the members of the secretariat withdrew along the Duda River, just like when the attack on Marquetalia occurred.

A retired Army officer also told the Commission that they did not find Tirofijo, Mono Jojoy, Raúl Reyes or Alfonso Cano because by the time of the attack they had already left. He also agreed with the ex-combatant in stating that the information had leaked to Casa Verde. The message was evident: the national government would not take into account the FARC (which had asked to join this assembly as part of a pacification project) in the Constituent Pact.

César Gaviria's endorsement of the Army to bomb Casa Verde in the middle of a peace process

The former president of Colombia (1990-1994) was clear with the Military Forces when he said that they did not need permission from anyone, not even his own, to enter any part of the territory. This is because there were rumors that they were not allowed to fight, precisely because of the implementation of the Constituent Assembly and the Tlaxcala dialogues (1990-1992).

Not here there are closed zones, they can enter wherever they want, if they want they can tell me, if they don't want to, they won't tell me, but don't keep saying that they won't let you fight”, Gaviria told the Truth Commission about the permission granted to the military to continue their counterinsurgency operations.

General Humberto Correa, commander of the retake of Casa Verde, took this decision as an endorsement to intervene in the area. The Minister of Defense at the time, Rafael Pardo, has also defended this attack saying that, had he not done so, the FARC would have had approximately 4,000 kilometers of national territory under its power.

At that time, among the Armed Forces themselves, there was a fear that the Magna Carta of 1991 would tilt the country to the left due to the great prominence that the AD – M19 had in the Constituent Assembly and because of the possibility of granting pardons for ex-combatants of that guerrilla.

Gaviria had opted for the weakening of the guerrillas in his government, and although he could not do so with the already demobilized M-19, with the FARC he did have clear intentions . For this reason, the Simón Bolívar Guerrilla Coordinator (CGSB) did not have the opportunity to access the Constituent Assembly.

“The M-19 had one thing that the FARC-EP does not have and that is that they knew how to speak to people better than traditional politicians, better than us. On the other hand, those of the FARC-EP never learned, they will not learn. That's how they stayed because they were always rural guerrillas who never knew the urban language and they don't know it. That is the reality,” Gaviria Trujillo told the Commission. However, that guerrilla managed to reach a peace agreement with the Colombian state in 2016.

Rodrigo Londoño, on the other hand, told the entity that the attack on Casa Verde raised the war to a new level, because while that camp was in force, there was hope of ending the internal conflict.

“The comrades told us that the FARC-EP was going to become a dead cow in the path of the revolution (…) Today, with the perspective of time, I think the comrades were right”, Timochenko said. A new door to peace with Colombia had closed, opening another for more years of struggle in the fields.