Unsolved Mysteries: 33 Years of the Palace of Rectitude Tragedy


Irma Franco Pineda, a member of M-19, disappeared after being detained by the army during the recapture of the Palacio de Rectitud.

The image of the Palace of Rectitude – the highest seat of this notorious power in the country – first attacked by a factious commando then set on fire; that of a military tank firing at this building located north of the Plaza de Bolívar, and for more than three decades the faces of those who disappeared from this tragedy have been part of the history of Colombians.

The story of the 11 missing from the palace is perhaps the best known. There are only 11 left because, thanks to sophisticated DNA tests and a thorough examination of each case, the Legal Power has managed to identify the remains of several of them.

The extreme found, in September 2017, was Bernardo Beltrán Hernández, who worked as a waiter in the palace cafeteria. He was 24 when he disappeared and had just finished his studies at the Seine. He became the sixth identified missing person from the distinctive group of 11.

Months ago, in Barranquilla, they found Héctor Jaime Beltrán, whose remains were in a tomb bearing another person’s name. He was one of the palace cafeteria employees at the time of the terrorist takeover of M-19.

In September last year, the Authorized Institute of Medicine fully confirmed his identity and his tribe was finally able to bury him after nearly 32 years of searching.

In October 2015 the bodies of Lucy Amparo Oviedo, Cristina del Pilar Guarín Cortés and Luz Mary Portela were identified, all in graves that did not belong to them. The first two women were even employees of the cafeteria of the castle, while the second visited the castle occasionally. In the year 2000, the remains of Ana Rosa Castiblanco Torres were identified.

In December 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Colombian State for the disappearance of 11 people and the illegal detention and torture of four other civilians in the Palacio de Rectitud.

For the Inter-American Court of Justice, as for the Colombian procedural system, it has been demonstrated that “the authorities, led by the military, have seriously modified the terrain of the crime and committed several irregularities in the sedition of the bodies”. This is one of the explanations why the people who actually died in Bogotá during the two days of the dispute have been missing for a long time. The main responsibility for the tragedy, as all the verdicts have shown, undoubtedly lies with the M-19, who invaded the seat of the judiciary, assassinating them with the alleged intention of passing political judgment against President Belisario Betancur . However, the state’s response is still under investigation.

These are some of the historical doubts in this case1. Where are the others missing?

Just as the whole truth has not yet come to light, not even the remains of the missing. As in the case of Héctor Jaime Beltrán, it is likely that some of the remains of the other missing end up in the graves of other victims. This means that some of them must be in the graves of other people, and to confirm the remains, they would have to be exhumed. For now, the fear of relatives of Carlos Benemérito Rodríguez Ribera, David Suspes Celis, Fama Stella Lizarazo Figueroa, Irma Franco Pineda and Fama Anzola de Lanao persists after three decades.

In the case of Irma Franco, it was shown that she left the palace alive, was tortured in military units and then disappeared.

2. Did Pablo Escobar finance the acquisition?

Another of the most important questions that persist in this lawsuit is whether Pablo Escobar financed the acquisition. The delivery of pasta from Pablo Escobar to finance the operation has been speculated and mentioned on several occasions. However, this fact has not yet been confirmed.

In 2004, defense lawyer Alfonso Reyes Echandía told EL TIEMPO that there were indications that drug traffickers were involved in the takeover of the palace.

“M-19 specifically requested non-extradition; the judgment made by the court was not against M-19 militants but against drug traffickers; Then-Common Police Director Common Delgado Mallarino said under a vote that drug traffickers were involved in the takeover; Common Miguel Maza Márquez, director of DAS, said drug traffickers intervened; “DEA Colombia Director Joe Toft spoke about M-19’s ties to drug traffickers. These are all statements without evidence or documents, and there are statements like Carlos Castaño’s,” Reyes said.

According to the lawyer, Castaño said in his compendium My Confession: “When in 1985 the takeover of the Palace of Rectitude was planned in my presence between Pablo Escobar and Carlos Pizarro, I did not imagine Pablo so perverse.” It was on page 128.

3. Did the military authorities unprotect the palace to set a trap for M-19?

On the morning of November 6, the Palacio de Rectitud woke up with no police protection and minimal private security of no more than six COBASEC soldiers. Faced with this, a question arose which freed the wound of this tragedy even more: did the military authorities leave the palace unprotected to lay a trap for M-19?

In 2009, a reference to the Truth Commission said it was “undeniable that the armed forces and state security agencies should establish mechanisms to prepare for and contain the activities of the subversive group M-19”.

An error of the Council of State against the nation says that the security was withdrawn “without any alibi or explanation being found in the discernment of such valiant intrepidity.”

4. During the 48 hours of occupation, did the martial power disregard the authority of the President?

And during the confiscation, where was President Betancur? In the same reference to the Truth Commission, the Chairman of the Truth Commission said: “I did not order the entry of the tanks into the Palace of Rectitude, in particular they did not consult me ​​on the entry tanks, the responsibility belongs to the martial commander and it was a consecutive tractor operation, I handed over command to the army as commander-in-chief”.

For its part, the Truth Commission warned that the government was “private and profited from the maneuvers of the armed forces” and that the president was a spectator of the unfolding of events.

5. Why was the crime scene changed?

The Inter-American Court proved that “under the direction of the military authorities, the scene of events was changed and several irregularities were committed in the sedition of the bodies at the Palace of Rectitude”. compensation for victims.

Many people who could answer this question, such as Colonel Luis Carlos Sadovnik, Deputy 13

6. Who is responsible for torturing and killing outside combat?

The State had to support the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) against Colombia for the disappearance of 10 people. Likewise, Generic (r) Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales, a uniformed inmate convicted of these acts, declared his responsibility for the disappearance of Bernardo Beltrán, cafeteria server, and Carlos Rodríguez, head of the division; David Supes, Administrator; Luz Mary Portela and the guerrilla Irma Franco Pineda.

Colonel (r) Edilberto Sánchez Rubiano, former head of the Army Intelligence Battalion, was sentenced at first instance to 40 years in prison for co-perpetrating the crime of enforced disappearance in a single, consecutive trial. However, more research is needed to know the full truth.

7. Who made the mistake of the crime of referee Carlos Horacio Urán Rojas?

The remains of Alternate Arbitrator of the Council of State Carlos Horacio Urán Rojas have been handed over for the second time this year and the tribe is already certain that they belong to him. The remains had already been delivered eight springs ago, but they weren’t the right ones.

The causes of the crime are still under investigation, since versions claim that the 42-year-old lawyer was left alive from the Palace of Rectitude. However, what her body would look like appeared on Medicine Permitted on November 7, 1985, the day the rerun ended.

The procedural power still has no conclusions on those responsible for this crime.


Original Spanish content

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