The voices and the civic pressure calling for the resignation of Solicitor-General Nestor Hernandez Martinez are growing. On January 11th, when the country had still not returned to its normal rhythm after the New Year, the first huge demonstrations supporting this demand took place with massive participation in Bogotà and other cities throughout the country.
Following the decisive revelations of Martìnez’s corruption made by Jorge Pizano, and the strange circumstances surrounding the latter’s death and that of his son; after the motion of censure against Martìnez in Congress and the death of Merchàn, another suspect in this chain of corruption; the evidence continues to accumulate about Martìnez’s responsibility in the negotiations between Odebrecht and the Sarmiento Angulo Group regarding contracts for the concessions of the “Route of the Sun II” which amounted to 50 million dollars.
As a result of this scandal, Colombian society has been discovering other improper activities of Solicitor-General Martìnez. He has put his office and its abundant resources at the service of impunity and of the cover-up of his responsibilities and those of his boss, the richest man in Colombia, Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, both of them involved in numerous cases of corruption.
Martìnez’s activities have become notorious in the use of the Solicitor-General’s office to organise frame-ups against his critics, against opponents of the regime and against anyone who dares to denounce his misdeeds.
Furthermore, on behalf of those who have sworn to “smash peace into smithereens”, he has carried out all kinds of machinations against the Peace Agreements and against efforts for a political solution to the conflict; and this is in complete contrast with his negligence and covering-up of the genocide under way against social leaders and human rights defenders.
According to the Institute for Studies of Development and Peace (INDEPAZ), the slaughter of activists in 2018 amounted to 256 murders, equivalent to 3 activists murdered every 4 days. In 2017 the number eliminated amounted to 170, so this is an increase of 51% in the Genocide; while between 2016 and 2017, the growth of these murders was 45%.
In his January 10th statement Solicitor-General Martìnez minimizes the gravity of this slaughter, denying that it amounts to systematic and planned political persecution by the regime; this in order to protect the perpetrators, thus facilitating the continuation and aggravation of the Genocide.
With such a Solicitor-General, how can the struggle against corruption possibly advance when the official responsible for fighting corruption is himself up to his eyeballs in it?
Civic mobilisation demanding the resignation of Solicitor-General Martìnez is both just and necessary. But even if as a result his overthrow were to be achieved, social campaigning would have to continue so as to ensure that his successor would not be another tool of the violent extreme right which is headed by ex-President Uribe, meaning that “the cure would be worse than the disease”.
Last August 12 million Colombian women and men voted in the popular consultation demanding profound measures against corruption; the Government promised to promote these measures in Congress, but at the same time it gave firm support to the most corrupt Solicitor-General ever seen in Colombia. What came of President Duque’s promises? Yet another lie, the same demagogy as always.
Corruption in Colombia as in most countries is an endemic and systemic phenomenon; so that while it is valid to press for the resignation of this Solicitor-General, the cancer of corruption which plagues our country will continue to spread, and what are needed are systemic and fundamental transformations.
There will be no solutions with this Congress, nor with this Solicitor-General’s office, nor while the State is run by the same dominant elite who are those most responsible for corruption and who are its principal beneficiaries.
For the struggle against corruption to be effective, it has to be carried out by a mobilised social movement.