Prosecutor Francisco Barbosa during an interview in Bogotá March 24, 2023. LUISA GONZALEZ (Portal)
Colombian President Gustavo Petro has dismissed the ELN guerrillas’ alleged plan to attack Attorney General Francisco Barbosa, which the official himself denounced two weeks ago. “A senior state official was deceived,” the president concluded in a message on his social media this Wednesday. “I have always personally offered him my support for the safety he requires as my duty and I will continue to do so,” the president added.
“We have never heard of any plan of attack against him except through his own public statement,” Petro repeated, echoing a Defense Ministry statement following an extraordinary intelligence meeting on Tuesday night that addressed prosecutors’ allegations of a plan involving Prosecutor Barbosa , opposition Senator María Fernanda Cabal – wife of rancher José Féliz Lafaurie, one of the government negotiators at the table with the ELN – and retired General Eduardo Zapateiro.
Among other things, the intelligence agency found that the Financial Analysis Investigation Unit (UIAF) had not discovered any financial information related to the alleged attack and that no intelligence agency had received any information from foreign authorities in this regard. “It has been verified that no entity making up the intelligence services has indicated, when developing their own missions, that they have additional information on the above terrorist intentions. In the same way, it was possible to verify that no intelligence agency had additional information beyond that contained in the statement from the nation’s attorney general,” read the statement from the Defense Department, to which the president was referring.
Despite this denial, prosecutors reiterated this Wednesday that two months ago they launched a formal investigation into the intention of the National Liberation Army, which agreed to a six-month ceasefire amid its peace negotiations with the government to carry out “terrorist attacks in Bogotá.” against, among others, the prosecutor, some offices of the company, various public figures and international organizations. “I think the one they are fooling is President Petro. They’re not telling you the whole truth,” Barbosa said in statements to Semana magazine. At the time, the guerrillas claimed the news was “false” and accused prosecutors of wanting to sabotage the peace talks.
Prosecutor Barbosa, a close friend of former conservative President Iván Duque, was one of the biggest critics of total peace, Petro’s flagship policy. In addition, there have been repeated clashes with what is now Colombia’s first left-wing president, and he has refused to lift the arrest warrants of other armed groups with whom the executive branch is negotiating. His term ends in February next year and President Petro has already presented his shortlist for the Supreme Court to choose the nation’s next attorney general.
Prosecutors announced two weeks ago that they had been briefed by three sources on an attack plan hatched from Venezuela, which sources say involved training snipers and transporting large sums of money. Prosecutor Barbosa, who feels the government has failed to take his complaint seriously, contacted the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington a week ago, urging precautions to be taken to ensure his and his family’s safety.
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The origin of the deception, President Petro said this Wednesday, “is tied to the processes of verifying sources.” Deeper in military intelligence than in prosecutors. “The same source for both companies, the quicker his information reached the officer without further verification and he made it public,” he argued before closing a criticism amid the bitter confrontation he is having with prosecutor Barbosa. “The biased and irresponsible denunciation of a political nature to the President of the Republic belies respect for the institutions and only shows a desire not to review the constitutional procedure for replacing the prosecutor,” he concluded.
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