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Henry Sanabria, the ultra-Catholic general who has been "scaring the devil" in the Police for more than 30 years


The police commander is accused of imposing his religious beliefs in the positions he has held in the institution. In Cartagena they remember him for the police persecution that transsexual women experienced, among other outrages against citizens

General Henry Sanabria, director of the National Police, in Bogotá, on December 17, 2022.Sebastian Barros (Sebastian Barros via Reuters Con)

The director of the Colombian Police has spent half his life preaching the Bible in the institution.

General Henry Sanabria, whose name has been raised again in the last week due to an interview in which he attacked the LGTBI community, has a long police career in which he has acted based on his moral prejudices, human rights organizations have denounced for some time .

Sanabria is a 51-year-old from Bogotá who has been linked to the Police since his twenties.

From 2019 to 2021 he was a commander in Cartagena, the position that until now had cost him the most criticism.

Sanabria's passage through that city is remembered for episodes of abuse of authority and violation of human rights.

The current president of the Senate, Roy Barreras, was one of his main critics.

In 2020, when Sanabria was commander of the Police in Cartagena, Barreras publicly denounced him for the arbitrary detention of a young woman from the city.

Fiona Beeson was arrested, without the right to defend herself, for being on the street, on her bike, one day of quarantine in the pandemic.

“The furious and imposing general before the alone and defenseless young woman orders her escorts to apprehend her and handcuff her.

She is held without charge for 32 hours.

The young woman is epileptic.

She is exposed with 18 other women in a cell without masks for anyone.

They deny him communication as punishment”, denounced Roy Barreras one of the many cases for which the director of the Police is not pleasantly remembered in that city.

Beeson, an openly lesbian woman, told the newspaper at the time of her

El Universal

the mistreatment he had suffered on Sanabria's orders.

“The general ordered me to arrest them, they put their hands behind my back, they made me walk handcuffed and escorted by four or five police officers,” he recounted.

The Affirmative Caribbean Collective, which registered more than one case of abuse of authority by the Sanabria Police, alerted the Government last August when it was learned that it would be the director of the entire institution.

In a letter signed by several human rights and feminist organizations, they rejected Petro's decision.

“From Sanabria we only remember his reports and interviews where he justifies the crimes of the Police against the young people of the popular neighborhoods.

The mandate of persecution and homophobic, sexist and class violence against diverse populations, women, and informal vendors in the historic center ”.

What the people of Cartagena saw during their passage through the city is now visible to all.

Wilson Castañeda, director of Caribe Afirmativo, says that the use of Twitter to write discriminatory messages camouflaged in biblical references or offensive statements towards the LGTBI community were also constant while Sanabria was in the Cartagena Police, from where he left with little success.

His management in terms of his security was described as "mediocre" by observers and citizens, who point to Petro's appointment of him as an undeserved "award".

“It is not just his speech, his contempt for human rights, ignorance of social leaders and homophobic and transphobic public expressions that people who have been persecuted by the Police that he commanded have had to suffer,” says Castañeda.

With transsexual women it was especially hard, says the human rights defender.

In the Clock Tower, in the historic center of the city, trans and migrant women, most of them Venezuelan, were persecuted by uniformed men from the institution he directed.

Direct dialogue with him was impossible, says Castañeda, who recalls that in statements to the press the general dismissed the complaints and accused trans people of affecting the public space and "failing in morality."

Sanabria is valued within the institution above all because he has been a studious and disciplined police officer.

He is a lawyer, has a specialization in criminal investigation and has studied abroad.

On December 18, 2022, he reached the highest rank of the institution when he was promoted to General of the Republic by President Petro.

In the more than 30 years that Sanabria has worn the police uniform, he has put the Bible first.

When he was an intelligence officer, he already appeared on television talking about "the influences of the devil" with a crucifix in his hand.

It was at that time that he spoke publicly of a witch in an operation against the FARC.

His interview with


, in which he recounts his "fight against the devil" and that he has put the Petro government in trouble, is déjà


to the conversations he had years ago, as a colonel, with the conservative José Galat, founder of the religious channel Teleamiga, where Sanabria was a recurring guest.

Gustavo Petro's Executive faces a new battlefront with the rejection generated by General Sanabria's latest false starts.

In addition to the claims that human rights organizations have been making for months, congressmen have joined in demanding the general's departure.

House representative Jennifer Pedraza, who has become a serious opponent of some government decisions, has published a letter in which several congressmen ask Petro to remove Sanabria from the leadership of the Police.

"We demand that you enforce the Constitution, separating the State from any religion," Pedraza wrote.

The document, signed by Humberto de la Calle, Daniel Carvalho and Katherine Miranda, among other independent congressmen,

He reminds the president that Colombia is a secular state and accuses the general of systematically violating the political Constitution.

"The director of the Police reproduces discriminatory confessional speeches against women and the LGBTI population," the document states.

President @petrogustavo remove General Henry Sanabria from the Police Directorate.

Several congressmen demand that you enforce the Constitution, separating the State from any religion.

— Jennifer Pedraza Sandoval (@JenniferPedraz) March 27, 2023

After Sanabria's scandalous statements, complaints have appeared about possible acts of discrimination within the Police.

Defense Minister Iván Velásquez confirmed this Monday that they are investigating alleged irregular transfers of various agents for religious reasons.

"I have heard over the weekend some statements from members of the Police who say, and not precisely attributed to General Sanabria, but to the leadership of the Police, that some transfers can be considered according to religious affinity," revealed the minister to the microphones of Blu Radio.

Velásquez promised that the result of the investigation will be known soon.

“It is an issue that we are addressing,” he declared as a priority.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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