Colombian Truth Commission Report: Live Updates

Credit…Federico Rios

The United States believed that the Colombian military was behind the wave of killings of left-wing activists, yet it spent the next two decades deepening its relationship with the Colombian military, recently released documents show.

The Central Intelligence Agency had evidence that the Colombian military provided a list of targets to the paramilitaries, which documents show killed 20 banana workers in a high-profile massacre, but continued to send billions of dollars in aid to the Colombian government.

On Tuesday, Colombia’s truth commission will release a long-awaited report that attempts to build a broad history of the country’s years-long internal conflict that has killed at least 260,000 people.

Report written following the results 2016 peace agreement with its largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is intended to be used Colombia’s next government develop a policy that moves the country towards lasting peace. This could help shape Colombia’s future relationship with the United States.

Among the topics covered in the report is the role of the US government, which has funded and trained the Colombian military for decades to fight the FARC and the drug economy that has funded their insurgency.

And among the clues used to write Tuesday’s report are thousands of declassified American documents collected and organized by the National Security Archive, a Washington-based NGO that specializes in supporting post-conflict truth commissions.

The Digital Documents Library will be published in August. But the National Security Archive provided The New York Times with some documents in advance. They show that the United States has been aware of the alleged crimes committed by the Colombian military for decades, “and yet the relationship has continued to evolve,” said Michael Evans, director of the Columbia Archive Project.

Particularly revealing, he says, are a number of CIA intelligence reports that are usually not available to the public even after a recording has been requested.

One report, written in 1988 during a period when left-wing activists were being killed on a regular basis, found that a wave of killings carried out against “suspected leftists and communists” was the result of a “combined effort” by the intelligence chief of the Colombian Army’s Fourth Brigade and members of the MedellĂ­n drug cartel.

Many of those killed were affiliated with a party called the Patriotic Union. The report said it was “unlikely” that this happened “without the knowledge of the commander of the Fourth Brigade”.

Later in the document, a CIA officer writes about a 1988 massacre in which 20 farm workers, many of whom were union members, were killed. The CIA officer points out that the US government believed that the assassins “obtained the names of their intended targets” from the intelligence unit of the 10th brigade of the Colombian army.

Other documents show that the United States was aware that oil companies were paying paramilitaries for protection, and that at least one company was gathering intelligence for the Colombian military.

According to the CIA, one company “actively provided intelligence on guerrilla activities directly to the army,” using an airborne surveillance system along the pipeline to identify guerrilla camps and intercept guerrilla communications.

According to the report, the Colombian army “successfully used this information and inflicted about 100 casualties during the operation against the guerrillas” in 1997.

Another document, written in 2003, alludes to one of the darkest chapters of the war called false positive scandal. In this case, the Colombian military is accused of killing thousands of civilians during Alvaro Uribe’s presidency and trying to pass them off as combat deaths to show that they are winning the war.

AT recent court testimony in Colombia, former soldiers said they felt pressure from superiors to kill other Colombians.

A July 2003 memo to Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, from the Pentagon’s Senior Deputy for Special Operations noted a significant increase in combat killings since Mr. C. Uribe took office – 543 in just six months compared from 780 in the last two years of the previous government.

The document is titled “Recent Successes Against Colombian FARCs”.