Colombia: President Replaces Scandal-plagued Army Chief

Tue May 21 2024
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BOGOTÁ, Colombia: Colombia’s president on Monday replaced the country’s army chief, who came under fire over deteriorating security and a scandal in which he allegedly put his wife’s English teacher under surveillance out of jealousy.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Defence, President Gustavo Petro has decided to replace General Luis Ospina with retired Major General Luis Emilio Cardozo Santamaria.

The statement said Cardozo’s “vast experience and leadership … will be essential to further strengthening the nation’s security and defence.”

While no reason was given for Ospina’s departure, it comes amid sharp criticism from the opposition and experts over increased attacks against security forces and civilians by narcotics and guerrilla groups.

Ospina has faced various scandals since taking up the role in August 2022, after Petro came to power.

The Attorney General’s Office had in 2023, opened an investigation into allegations that Ospina used intelligence services for personal reasons.

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Local media reported that he ordered the wiretapping of his wife’s English teacher out of jealousy.

Last week, local media reported that he was also being investigated for falsely accusing another general of links to FARC rebel dissidents.

Colombia’s military has spent more than half a century fighting rebel groups and criminals linked to drug trafficking.

Pedro’s government has tried to negotiate with groups that did not join the 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but the talks have faced many setbacks.

On Monday, two police officers were killed and seven others wounded in gun and bomb attacks in the country’s southwest, which police sources attributed to rebels from the Central General Staff (EMC), who broke away from the FARC under an agreement.

Another group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), which has been involved in peace talks with the government, said earlier this month that it would resume kidnappings for ransom money because the government had not provided them with alternative means.

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