Petro appoints ex-guerrilla as intelligence chief in Colombia

The philosopher Manuel Alberto Casanova, former comrade-in-arms of President Gustavo Petro in the dissolved M-19 guerrilla, will be the new director of intelligence in Colombia, the first in that position without ties to the military.

In a decree dated August 18, Casanova was named “General Director of the Administrative Department of the National Intelligence Directorate” (DNI).

Created in 2011, the organization will be directed for the first time by a civilian who, according to the opposition, has no experience in managing intelligence and strategic counterintelligence in security and defense.

Like Petro, Casanova demobilized in 1990 as part of the peace agreement signed by the M-19.

“It’s worrying. (Casanova) is a person who has no experience in intelligence management,” questioned the congressman from the Democratic Center party, José Vicente Carreño, in an interview with W Radio.

After handing over his weapons, the former guerrilla assumed the position of head of security for the Alianza Democrática M-19 political party, which emerged from the peace pact, according to the Universidad de los Andes, where he gave a conference on the conflict last year.

The DNI replaced the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), which was dissolved due to an espionage scandal involving judges, opponents and human rights defenders under the government of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

Since its creation, the entity had been directed exclusively by retired military personnel.

It is a “demotivating” appointment for the public force, said Congressman Carreño.

However, for Gloria Flórez, an official senator and human rights defender, Casanova’s appointment represents a change of “course” in the management of intelligence in Colombia, a country mired in an internal conflict for six decades.

“In the old DAS we were victims of an infamous persecution, of assemblies that today have several people imprisoned. What is sought is to give a different course to the intelligence of the State,” he said.

Casanova recently served as an official of the entity in charge of technical education in Colombia (SENA) and in a coffee exporting company, according to public documents and his LinkedIn profile.

With the unprecedented arrival of the left to power at the hands of Petro, the Armed Forces and Police entered a transformation process that seeks to improve their performance in terms of human rights, in the face of widely documented abuses and murders of civilians.

On Saturday, in the change of military leadership, Petro warned the troops to prepare to become a “peace army”, after the prolonged internal confrontation that his government wants to extinguish through negotiations with armed groups. YS

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