Colombian government to probe calls for ‘military coup’

President Santos (in blue tie) with Colombian military officials
Colombian authorities have opened an official investigation into calls to remove the government of the country, which were found circulating among former and current military officials. The investigation was announced on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the appearance in the Colombian media of a series of personal email exchanges, which appeared to suggest that the national administration of President Juan Manuel Santos should be removed from power. Some of the emails were exchanged between two influential retired military officers, Major Jorge Galvis Noyes and General Eduardo Santos Quiñones. One message was authored by Galvis on May 15, 2012, shortly after a massive bomb exploded in Colombian capital Bogota, which killed five people and injured 17. The bomb, according to President Santos, was directed against the country’s former Minister of the Interior, Fernando Londoño Hoyos, who is said to have links with rightwing paramilitary groups. Galvis’ email lamented the “attempt [that] was made on the life of Fernando Londoño” and criticized the government of President Santos for not preventing it. He continued by suggesting that Santos should “fulfill his political duties […], otherwise he should be “removed from office”. Around that time, General Quiñones authored an open call against President Santos, which he apparently circulated via email among dozens of senior military officers. The letter blasted the Santos administration, stating that Colombia was ready for “a real leader”. In recent months, rightwing political figures connected to Colombia’s previous President, Alvaro Uribe, have been virulently attacking the Santos administration, accusing it of being “soft” against leftwing paramilitary groups –primarily the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Shortly after the emails surfaced in the media, the Colombian Association of Retired Officers, of which both Quiñones and Galvis are members, said the messages between the two retired military men were “taken out of context”. Meanwhile, the Colombian Armed Forces issued an official statement, signed by its Chief of Staff, General Alejandro Navas, in which it said that the emails “do not represent the feelings of the military community and the police”. It also said that the Colombian armed forces “affirm our loyalty and devotion to our duty [and] will continue along the path that our constitutional commander has outlined”. The investigation continues.

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