U.S. Soldiers Accused of Raping 12-Year-Old Girl in Colombia

According to a report in the Bogotá daily El Tiempo this weekend, at 8 o’clock the morning of Sunday, August 26, a white luxury SUV pulled up to the main square of Melgar, a tacky resort town in the Colombian department of Tolima. In front of a number of witnesses, the driver, former U.S. soldier César Ruiz, left a 12-year-old girl in the square and drove off.

For the last four hours, the girl soon told her mother, Ruiz had left her alone in his  apartment with his friend, U.S. Army Second Sergeant Michael J. Coen, who had sexually assaulted her. Ruiz, she said, also molested her before leaving her in the park.
Coen and Ruiz
Photo from El Tiempo

Melgar also is the site of the Tolemaida military base, which hosts a large number of U.S. military personal assigned there as part of the multi-billion-dollar Plan Colombia.

Local authorities are now investigating the girl’s accusations and, according to a report in Bogotá daily El Tiempo this weekend, have spoken to many witnesses and are fairly certain the girl is telling the truth.

El Tiempo reports:

According to testimony taken by local authorities, with the participation of military intelligence, at 4 a.m. that day they arrived at the guard post of Arial Combat Center #4 (CACOM-4) and, without exiting his white SUV, Ruiz, known as “the Mexican,” lowered his window a few centimeters, identified himself, and continued driving.

The lax inspection and the truck’s polarized windows allowed the men to enter the military complex with a 12-year-old girl they had met 4 hours earlier in the Ibiza disco, in Melgar.

Confidential reports indicate that the truck, with La Calera license plates #CTU-046, parked in front of the apartment assigned to Ruiz, a U.S. citizen of Mexican origin, apparently now retired from the Army, with a U.S. Embassy I.D. card #13489 and member of the group charged with security for people from that country who participate in the drug war in Colombia.

This is just the latest in a line of crimes and abuses that U.S. soldiers and civilian officials have committed in Colombia. As Narco News has reported in the past, these have included:

And now this, yet another outrage at the Tolemaida base in Melgar.

One of the justifications for the huge U.S. military and diplomatic presence in Colombia has always been to help “professionalize” the Colombians and teach them respect for “human rights,” helping them to end the history of corruption and thuggery that stands in the way of winning this war on drugs for good. But just like our Iraqi friends, also being taught about professionalism and modern democracy by U.S. armed forces, Colombians have had to watch case after case like this one. Each one ends with virtual impunity for the gringos, whisked away to the U.S. never to face charges or even questions from Colombian prosecutors.

Coen is apparently already out of the country, but Ruiz is not. The embassy is expected to make a statement in the next few days...

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About Dan Feder

I was a member of the Narco News team in various capacities, from webmaster to Editor-in-Chief, from 2002-2008. Since 2006 I have also been a member of the International Peace Observatory, which performs human rights accompaniment for Colombian campesino organizations in conflict zones. I am now living in Boston and working as a website developer for DigitalAid, Inc.