Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo in a file image.
The brutality and excessive use of force by the security forces in Colombia have recently triggered a wave of citizen outrage.
In the midst of the crisis due to police abuse, a new episode has once again put the Army, hit by a long chain of scandals, at the center of the controversy.
The Armed Forces admitted on Thursday that a military man shot Juliana Giraldo Díaz, a 35-year-old transsexual woman who was with her partner in a car on a highway in Cauca, a department in the west of the country hit by the drug violence.
"I condemn a reprehensible fact that occurred in Miranda, Cauca," said President Iván Duque on his social networks.
The president ordered the Minister of Defense, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, to immediately investigate what happened, and indicated that the person responsible must receive an "exemplary punishment", in addition to expressing his solidarity with the relatives.
"I want to express my deepest feelings of rejection, consternation and pain for what happened," said the head of the Defense portfolio.
"Actions of this type are contrary to the defense and security policy of the Government of President Duque, as well as the doctrine, procedures and protocols of the National Army and are not tolerated", Carlos Holmes Trujillo rushed to declare accompanied by the military leadership .
The woman was in the vehicle with her partner, Francisco Larrañiaga, when suddenly they saw the soldiers come out on the edge of the road that connects the municipalities of Miranda and Corinto.
According to Larrañiaga's version, one of the soldiers opened fire on the car even though he obeyed an order to stop.
"It was the best thing that had happened to me in my life and the national army took it from me," he told the
“We raise chickens, we work with food;
we did not carry weapons, we did not use drugs, we are working people, we are humble people, we are civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict, "he added.
The images of the moment in which, from the same road, the woman's companion laments the tragic event through tears of despair flooded social networks and caused a commotion.
"We have no weapons, we have no drugs, we have nothing, this
killed her," he repeats agitated in the midst of the military.
“They killed Juliana!
shot him in the head ”, he is heard screaming.
According to the Army's Third Division, troops from a high mountain battalion "were carrying out military control of the area" when the woman was shot dead.
"The military unit will remain attentive to judicial requirements," he said in a brief statement prior to the reactions of the president and the defense minister.
The episode broke into a convulsed political and media agenda, which was already turned to public discussion about the abuses by the security forces that have shaken society.
The day before, the Government, through the Defense Minister, avoided apologizing for the police excesses in the wave of mobilizations that shook the country at the end of last year, as ordered by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Instead, he asked the Constitutional Court to review the Supreme Court's decision, in what several jurists have interpreted as contempt.
This position is aligned with the closed defense of the uniformed that the Executive has undertaken, despite the clamor for a fundamental reform.
Both the death of the woman in Cauca and the court's ruling come at a particularly sensitive moment.
Two weeks ago, the murder in police custody of Javier Ordóñez, a 43-year-old lawyer, after being subjected to incessant electric shocks with a
on a Bogotá street and despite being subjected by two uniformed men, rekindled the debate on the excessive use of force and provoked two chaotic days of massive protests, peaceful and violent, which left 13 civilians dead amid the riots.
The image of the Military Forces, involved in a chain of scandals that includes illegal interceptions of journalists and opponents, the return of the specter of extrajudicial executions and rapes of indigenous girls, has collapsed in opinion studies, as has happened with the police.
The historically favorable perception of the military collapsed from 85% to 48%, the lowest figure since there is a record, in the Gallup firm's July measurement, while that of the police is below 40%.