Jean Marie Marcelin Gilibert

France Colombia Fustignac

Jean Marie Marcelin Gilibert, also known as Juan Maria Marcelino Gilibert (born 24 February 1839 in Fustignac, France; died 11 September, 1923 in Bogotá, Colombia), was a French Commissioner in the French Gendarmerie. He was sent to Colombia as part of an exchange program between the two countries to help found the National Police of Colombia on 5 November 1891 and was its first commissioner.

Early life

Gilibert was born in Fustignac in the French department of Haute Garonne on 24 February 1839. He joined the French army at the age of 22 and rose to become a Sergeant-Major.

Gilibert served during the Franco-Prussian War and was wounded at the battle of Reichshoffen. During the war he was captured three times, escaping each time. He was awarded the French military medal for his service.[1]

After the war, Gilibert travelled with his regiment to Constantinople, where he was appointed a police commissioner of the 5th class. He later rose to become the commissioner of the 1st class in Lille.[2]


At the request of the Colombian chargé d'affaires, Gonzalo Mallarino, Gilibert was selected to reorganise the Bogota police, known as the National Police, based on his knowledge of Spanish and his experience, and arrived in the country in late 1891. On 1 January 1892 he presented the new Bogota police service, consisting of 450 officers organised in six districts, to President Carlos Holguin and his ministers in a parade. Local press reports from this period describe him rarely leaving his offices and strictly enforcing discipline, including dismissing two officers who claimed to have seen a ghost. Gilibert's contract expired in August 1892 but he remained on as an instructor to the force.

Between 15 and 17 January 1893 a series of riots by artisans and craftsmen known as the "Bogotazo" erupted in Bogota. Anger towards the police force caused by its professionalisation and its crackdown on street crime and prostitution, as well as Gilibert's alienation from the local populace and recruitment of officers from outside the city is thought to have contributed to the breakout of rioting. Under Gilibert's leadership, the police responded violently, with many arrests.[3][4]

In 1894 Gilibert also had a role in uncovering a coup-plot by artisans, buying off one of the plotters with 200 pesos. He also had a role in uncovering a liberal coup plot against the governing conservatives in Bogota in January 1895, though this did not prevent a series of liberal uprisings timed to occur simultaneously elsewhere resulting in a civil war in that year.

In 1898 Gilibert tended his resignation from the directorate of the Bogota police, claiming that his resources were insufficient for his task. He later reassumed the directorate under the government of General Rafael Reyes and continued to serve as an advisor until his death on 11 September 1923.


  1. ^ "POLICÍA NACIONAL 107 AÑOS HACIENDO HISTORIA". El Tiempo. El Tiempo. 6 November 1998. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  2. ^ Marcelino Gilibert, primer director de la Policía Nacional : una institución que cumple cien años. Credencial Historia No. 23: Banco de la República. Retrieved 16 January 2019.CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ Sowell, David (1992). The Early Colombian Labor Movement: Artisans and Politics in Bogotá, 1832-1919. Temple University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0877229651. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  4. ^ Ortoll, Servando; Arrom, Silvia M (1 February 1996). Riots in the Cities: Popular Politics and the Urban Poor in Latin America 1765-1910. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 148. ISBN 0585281580. Retrieved 16 January 2019.