Carlos Mario Jimenez Naranjo
Carlos Mario Jimenez Naranjo was born on the 26 February 1966 in Marsella, Colombia. During the eighties he became involved in the drug trade via the Norte del Valle Cartel. After a gradual ascent, he became the head of a very notorious paramilitary group in Colombia, the Central Bolívar Bloc (Bloque Central Bolivar), of the United Self-defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia or AUC). The Central Bolívar Bloc controlled the region of Middle Magdalena, as a de facto government. Carlos Mario Jimenez Naranjo, alias “Macaco” is currently considered by USA, as the most powerful Colombian narcoparamilitar.
To understand the power and the actions taken by Jimenez Naranjo, it is important to first recall the historical context of Colombia. From 1948 to 1960, a civil war period also called “la violencia” took place in Colombia opposing liberals and conservatives. In 1953, the government of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla tried to pacify the country, leading to an agreement between the two parties. Unfortunately this agreement didn’t fix the problems which originated “la violencia”. Facing the inequalities and the poverty still affecting the country, a guerilla warfare inspired by the Cuban revolution emerged in the sixties to take control over the territory. Threatened by the objectives of the guerilla, landowners, supported by the government, formed paramilitaries groups to stop the insurgency and protect their land. A triangulated war between guerillas, paramilitaries and government forces began. This three-front war was further strengthened by the fact that financed by the drug trade, paramilitaries became more and more independent and powerful, which in turn led to the creation in 1997 of the AUC bringing together violent paramilitary groups across the country.
Under the BCB, Jiménez Naranjo and the 7000 combatants under his command, conducted in Middle Magdalena, a systematic campaign of torture, extrajudicial killing and forced disappearances, focusing especially on members of the Program for Peace and Development in the Middle Magdalena (PDP). The aim was to keep control over the territory and drug trade. PDP is an organization that focuses on building transparent civil society institutions, sustainable economic development and agricultural alternatives to the drug trade. Twenty members of its organization were allegedly killed by Martínez Jiménez forces from 1997 to 2007.
They notably allegedly killed and tortured two members of this organization, Eduardo Estrada Gutierrez and Alma Rosa Jaramillo. On 28 June 2001, Jaramillo was allegedly abducted by members of the BCB and tortured to death. Only a portion of her body was discovered then. Estrada Gutierrez, a potential concurrent of the BCB for mayor election, was gunned down the same year, and killed in front of his relatives on 16 July 2001.
Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo was captured in 2002 by Colombian government forces.
Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo was captured in 2002 by the Colombian government forces.
In 2005, he joined together with other heads of paramilitary groups the “Justice and Peace” process initiated by the Colombian government. Under the Justice and Peace process, a framework was created to reintegrate AUC members in the society. It consisted in reduced sentences in case of collaboration for the truth and financial repairing for families and victims damages. However, this process of justice was very criticized in Colombia due to the numerous connections of paramilitaries with members of the government and the administration of justice. Nevertheless, Jiménz Naranjo admitted his responsibility for participating in more than 400 violent crimes.
However, without awaiting the outcome of the trial, Jiménez Naranjo was extradited to the US on 7 May 2008 and faced trial in the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, the Southern District of New York, and the Southern District of Texas on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, and provision of material support to a terrorist organization.
In 2010, Jiménez Naranjo pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington D.C. to drug manufacturing and distribution conspiracy charges, as well as charges of drug trafficking with intent to provide support for a narco-terror group. He also pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to import thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States. On 9 November 2011, Jiménez Naranjo was sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 33 years of imprisonment for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that supported a foreign terrorist organization.
On 1 July 2010, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), an international human rights organization dedicated to fight against torture and other severe human rights violation in the world, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jesus Cabrera, the son of Rosa Jaramillo, and two relatives of Eduardo Estrada, Jane and John Doe, against Carlos Mario Jiménez Naranjo before the southern district of Florida. The CJA accuses him of torture, extrajudicial killings, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The action filed is an action for compensatory and punitive damages for violations of international and domestic law.
To support their claim, the plaintiffs relied on the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act. On this basis the U.S. Legislation allows U.S. and foreign victims to bring proceedings before the Federal Courts for crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, torture, rape and summary executions, crimes recognized in international treaties treaties signed by the USA. In this case, the Plaintiffs referred especially to the:
– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; the Statute of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991; the Statute of the International Tribunal for Rwanda; Protocol II Additional to the four Geneva Conventions; the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity; the Principles of International Co-Operation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes Against Humanity; the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the American Convention on Human Rights and; the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
The trial is currently ongoing.
From 1948 to 1953, Colombia experienced a civil war of rare intensity. Known as “La Violencia”, the conflict opposed the Catholic conservative party with the liberal party, radicalised following the assassination of their leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitan. This conflict is at the origin of the creation of liberals and communist guerrilla movements and of the emergence of self-defense militias of farmers, created in response to abuses committed by the military and the conservative armed groups. They thus gave rise among others, to the creation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which emerged as a military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, and the National Liberation Army (ELN) a Castroist group. In the beginning these groups received strong support from the rural population especially during the period of the National Front (1958-1978) the Conservatives and Liberals agreed to alternately hold power, leaving no possible alternative political representation. This negation of democracy by a ruling elite created great frustration resulting in violent confrontations between the guerrilla movements and the government.
In the 1980s, the conflict took another dimension with the rise of drug trafficking and the emergence of the first paramilitary groups funded by drug traffickers’ production of cocaine to protect themselves from the guerrillas attacks. In 1984, a ceasefire was declared between the guerrillas and the government but only the FARC made any attempt to comply. They thus formed a political party in 1985, the Patriotic Union (“La Unión Patriótica). However, this party was eventually decimated by paramilitaries and security forces. The FARC resumed the armed struggle in 1987. After an unsuccessful attempt to coordinate some guerrilla movements and peace agreements with the government, the only active guerillas that remained were the FARC, ELN and to a lesser extent the EPL, which had emerged out of a Maoist branch of the Communist Party of Colombia.
In December 1991, the weakening of the Communist Party and the taking by the army of the FARC secretariat headquarter in La Uribe, a town in the center of the country in the Meta Department forced FARC leaders to change their operating mode. They adopted a military strategy, particularly between 1993 and 1998 with the taking of several villages and military bases during operations involving several hundreds of freedom fighters. The conflict then moved to a phase of warfare in which the government armed forces no longer seemed to be able to control the guerrillas who started to conduct roadblocks, kidnappings, sabotage etc.
Faced with the ineffectiveness of the army, paramilitary militias were constituted with the creation in 1997 of the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) under the leadership of Carlos Castaño. Various vigilante groups were also created, and one of their operating modes was to kill civilians in villages who were believed to be favorable to guerrilla movements, as happened during the Mapiripan massacre.
In 1998, President Andrés Pastrana arrived to power and opted for a new strategy. He created a demilitarized zone in order to promote peace talks and to exchange prisoners. Unfortunately, while it has led to some beneficial developments, it has also been used as a way for the FARC to demand ransoms or to recruit new soldiers. The area was finally declared again under government control in February 2002.
President Alvaro Uribe was elected in 2002. Under his mandate in July 2005 the Justice and Peace Law (Ley de Justicia y Paz), which purported to provide a legal framework for the demobilisation of the guerrilla fighters, was adopted. Under the already existing legislation, that of law 418, all fighters participating in the demobilisation were granted amnesty from criminal investigation and prosecution. Only those who had committed the most serious crimes, including acts of barbarism, terrorism, kidnapping, genocide, and killing civilians, were excluded from the amnesty. The Justice and Peace Law was adopted to deal specifically with those fighters who fell outside the scope of the existing amnesty law. According to the new framework, they could still benefit from judicial benefits if they contribute to the justice and reparation process. Therefore, in exchange for truth telling and a promise not to return to lawlessness, the demobilised fighters could obtain sentence reductions. Soon after its adoption, this law was highly criticised as the narrowness of its scope largely hampered its objectives of peace and justice. Indeed, of the more than 30’000 fighters who demobilised between 2003 and 2006, fewer than 10% fell within the purview of the Justice and Peace Law, the rest qualifying for the amnesty under law 418 which did not require any truth telling.
From 2002 to 2010, during his two terms in office, President Uribe adopted a policy of “democratic security”, and implemented “Plan Colombia”. Uribe decided to increase drastically the military response to the guerrillas with the objective of restoring the presence of the state throughout Colombian territory. The army’s budget was raised and this new operational capacity combined with a strong offensive against the FARC by the AUC before their demobilization in 2006, lead to a significant reduction in the number of FARC forces. Here again, while “the democratic security” strategy adopted by Uribe had some success, it also had limitations. The guerrilla movements intensified; they were fewer but were more mobile than ever before. They continued to inflict severe losses to Colombian government’s forces. In addition, cocaine production still provided large funding to guerrilla movements.
In 2010, the mandate of Juan Manuel Santos began with an upsurge in attacks by the FARC. The government replied with violent counter offensives including that of 23 September 20110, Operation Sodom, which dealt a major blow to the FARC. The FARC military chief Jorge Briceño Suarez was killed in the operation, as well as a significant number of members. After many arrests, the government considered in early 2011 that the FARC were decreasing in size and operations and set the priority to the fight against the heirs of paramilitaries and criminal gangs.
On 27 August 2012, President Santos confirmed that he would meet with the FARC in order to begin peace talks and try to end the conflict. Although controversial, dialogues were conducted during ceasefires, also thanks to the mediation of Hugo Chavez requested by Santos. The peace talks have so far helped to reach an agreement on land reform as well as on political participation and representation of the opposition in the Colombian parliament. The next priority in these dialogues concerns drug trafficking as well as the possible allocation of funds previously associated with the defense budget for the victims in a post conflict Colombia.
Although officially still ongoing, major advances have been made in the Colombian conflict during recent years. So far, the conflict has generated a large number of victims: approximately 180,000 civilians killed, 40,000 combatants killed, 25,000 missing persons and more than 4.7 million displaced. This context of generalized violence has mainly affected the civilian population. Massacres, killings, enforced disappearances, kidnappings have been the everyday life of tens for thousands of people during the conflict.