Colombia, Ukraine fire chief military officers

Protests in the Ukraine. Photo by

Matt DeGraff, Staff Writer

Colombia and Ukraine fired their chief military officers on Feb. 18 and 19, respectively.

The Ukrainian announcement came a day after protesters and police forces clashed, leaving over 20 dead and more than 400 injured.

Sophomore Tino Vitale said, “I think it’s terrible that they can’t solve their problems peacefully. Having this many people die is just awful.”

When the protests first started, they were peaceful.  However, radicals were able to push the protestors to outbreaks of violence with police in Jan., leaving at least three dead.

The protests began when president Viktor Yanukovych turned away a deal that would have brought closer ties with the European Union.  After getting rid of this agreement, Russia gave Ukraine a $15 billion bailout.

Ukraine has also announced a nationwide anti-terrorist operation, with the goal of restoring order.

The EU has called for a meeting of its 28 member countries on Feb. 19 to address Ukraine.  The meeting could result in sanctions being imposed on Ukraine, which might include travel bans and the freezing of its assets.

Sophomore Chris Gehlen said, “I am glad that the EU might impose sanctions on Ukraine, all the protests and violence that is going on there is awful.”

Gehlen also said, “I hope that the EU is able to get the government and the protesters to open a dialog and stop all the death.”

In Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos relieved Gen. Leonardo Barrera for what he called “disrespectful remarks” that insulted the judiciary and the nation in a phone conversation that was published over the weekend.

The army chief, General Juan Pablo Rodriguez, was promoted to replace Barrero.

The conversation that resulted in Barrero’s firing was recorded by prosecutors investigating graft by senior officers in allegedly inflated military contracts.  The conversation was revealed by newsmagazine “Semana.”

The graft investigation came out of a probe into extrajudicial killings.  Colombian soldiers have been convicted of almost 900 extrajudicial killings, dressing victims in military fatigues and presenting them as guerilla fighters killed in combat.

Sophomore Jake Kumamoto said, “These extrajudicial killings are horrible, I’m glad that people are being punished.  Maybe by taking out the person in charge of the military, these killings will stop.”

Even though the changes were brought on in different circumstances, the new military chiefs are sure to take their countries in different directions.