The Colombian government pledged on Tuesday to thoroughly investigate allegations into fifty-four suspected cases of child sex abuse by U.S. military personnel and defense contractors.
“We request through diplomatic channels and bilateral cooperation that U.S. authorities report on the progress of their investigation,” according to a statement from Jorge Armando Otalora of the Ombudsman’s office. Otalora condemned the rumors that sex acts with minors was videotaped and distributed as pornography.
“Since child pornography is a transnational crime, there exists mechanisms to guarantee justice and prevent impunity regardless of the diplomat immunity of the accused,” emphasized Otalora.
While Otalora called on the prosecution of those behind the suspected abuse, the head of Colombia’s child welfare agency, Cristina Plazas, urged potential victims to come forward.
Furthermore, Plazas also suggested the establishment of special commissions in the Cundinamarca and Tolima provinces where the supposed abuse took place in order to “actively seek girls and teens that were victims of abuse at the hands of soldiers.”
A truth commission seeking details on the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia authorized the “Historic Commission of Conflict and its Victims” study. The section by Renan Vega, a history professor of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional de Bogotá, describes the fifty-four cases of alleged abuse committed between 2003 and 2007 in a small part of the 809-page study.
“There is abundant evidence of sexual violence and total impunity, thanks to bilateral agreements and diplomatic immunity of U.S. officials…(It is) part of sexist and discriminatory behavior known as ‘sexual imperialism’ similar to what happens in other places where U.S. military forces are stationed,” wrote Vega.
Spokespeople for the U.S. military and defense contractors claimed that there is insufficient evidence to prove Vega’s claims, while an investigation by the Fusion television network concluded that his allegations were “unsubstantiated.” Yet evidence appears to exist of the 2007 case of a 12-year-old girl purportedly raped by a U.S. sergeant and defense contractor:
According to the girl’s mother, her daughter was walking through the town with her 10-year-old sister when she entered the ” Ibizia” nightclub to visit the girl’s room around 7PM.
When the girl failed to leave the club, her sister ran home and the family began a search.
The girl did not reappear until the next morning when the US military men later left the girl in shock in the central park in front of several witnesses, according to the report of the local authorities filed on September 8, 2007.
According to the Family Commissionary in Melgar, “there was, without a doubt, sexual intercourse” while prosecutors established the girl had been drugged...
The rape victim, her little sister and mother were forced to flee Melgar and eventually moved to the city of Medellin as forces loyal to the suspects were threatening the family, the mother told Colombian television.
If the allegations in the report are true then it could constitute one of the worst instances of terrible behavior by U.S. government employees in Colombia. In 2012, Secret Service members partied with prostitutes in Cartagena days before the Colombian port city hosted the Summit of the Americas. More recently, Drug Enforcement Agency chief Michele Leonhart will step down following controversy over counternarcotics agents engaging in “sex parties” paid for by Colombian drug gangs.
“We now have a handful of examples that are quite troubling,” commented Washington Office on Latin America analyst Adam Isacson. “But there hasn’t been a lot of scrutiny or follow up or evidence that U.S. authorities were taking it very seriously.”
YouTube Source – teleSUR English
Online Sources (English) – Reuters, Colombia Reports, Fusion, The Daily Beast
Online Source (Spanish) – RCN Radio