The murder of Colombian peace activist, satirist and journalist Jaime Hernando Garzón Forero is a case that still remains open: 16-years after his murder.
Visitors to Bogotá will see a huge graffiti tribute to the popular comedian on the city’s Avenida 26, while driving to the center from the airport.
Garzón was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle on August 13 1999, he had said to his wife two days previously that he was going to be killed.
But, how does Garzón’s murder case still unsolved and why are so many questions still unanswered?
Jaime Garzón left university prior to finishing his studies, jumping on the campaign train of politician Andrés Pastrana Arango’s attempt to become mayor of Bogotá. Success saw Garzón become elected as mayor of Sumapaz, an underdeveloped rural municipality in Bogotá.
The new mayor of Sumapaz’s satire started making waves after Garzón sent a telegram to identify the number of brothels in his jurisdiction.
“After an inspection, I can declare that the only whores here, are the f****** FARC.” (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). In a play on words, as the Spanish “puta” can be interpreted as either “whore” or “f***,” and so, Garzón landed his ticket to a television career riding on his notoriety.
He began as host of the program “Zoociedad” interviewing politicians and famous faces from the 1990s, seen in the Youtube video below.
On March 23 1998, the FARC guerrilla kidnapped 32 people on the Bogotá to Villavicencio road, heading into the Colombian plains: four of the hostages were foreigners.
Garzón, aided by authorization from anti-kidnapping politician José Alfredo Escobar, negotiated the release of nine of the hostages.
Yet this involvement did not go down well with army General Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, accusing the journalist of being a FARC sympathizer. Despite warnings from colleagues and other politicians, Garzón continued to fight for the release of the hostages, right up to his murder.
Colombia’s ex-assistant director of the country’s Administrative Department of Security (DAS) has been accused of ordering paramilitary groups to dispose of the journalist for becoming too involved in the negotiation process.
“Jaime Garzón was a guerrillero,”
According to Colombia’s Semana magazine, it was “widely known that Jaime Garzón was a guerrillero,” within the army ranks. He was also accused of having ties to other insurgent group the ELN.
Yet finally questions may be answered about Garzón’s murder. Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, the ex-paramilitary leader known as “Don Berna” has finally spoken out from his prison cell in the U.S.
“High ranking officers colaborated, including members of the armed group “La Terraza” in the crime, including the ex-assistant director of the DAS José Miguel Narváez. He also mentioned instructions which he gave to them (the group) in Bogotá so they could prepare and watch his (Garzón’s) movements to then commit the murder of the journalist Jaime Garzón.” Bejarano told Colombian media, after a five hour hearing.
Bejarano’s statement will once again open up investigations into how Colombia’s military were involved in the killing.
A long wait
Until then, members of Garzón’s family continue to wait, hoping to finally close the case and understand why such a prominent and loved figure, was yet another victim of Colombia’s internal violence.