Senators belonging to Colombia’s governing coalition on Tuesday prevented the
mother of a 14-year-old girl, who allegedly was raped by two U.S. soldiers, to
speak before Congress.
The woman had been invited to the Senate by opposition Senator Gustavo Petro. The lawmaker wanted the mother to tell her story and demonstrate what can happen when foreign military personnel is granted immunity from prosecution. Such immunity will be included in the pact between the U.S. and Colombia that will allow the U.S. to conduct counternarcotics operations from Colombian soil.
However, senators of the Conservative Party, Unidad Cristiana (Christian Unity) and Colombia Viva, filed petitions to postpone the sessions, tried to disallow the woman to talk and interrupted with claims that the country’s largest rebel group FARC is guilty of sex crimes too.
Petro accused the coalition of silencing the woman and revealed unknown persons tried to assassinate the woman after filing a complaint at the Prosecutor General’s Office in Bogota for the alleged rape.
The woman and her daughter lived in Melgar, Tolima, close to where U.S. soldiers were stationed. She claims her then 12-year-old daughter was raped by U.S. Army sergeant Michael Cohen and now retired soldier Cesar Ruiz.
Petro denounced the U.S. military for enjoying impunity and stated that the two rape suspects have so far not been called before any court or tribunal to respond for their actions.
The Senator announced that he will again insist on allowing the the woman to speak during next week’s Senate session.