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Uribe’s ties to Colombia death squads exposed
Published Mar 4, 2007 10:04 PM
News from Colombia exposing President Álvaro Uribe’s ties to the
terrorist, cocaine trading paramilitaries, or death squads, have not, as usual,
received adequate attention in the U.S. corporate media. Were they truly
concerned about narcotics traffic, this news would be on the front pages of
every major newspaper. Instead, it is covered in articles buried in the back
pages if not completely ignored.
Uribe has been tied to the right-wing
paramilitary death squads in Colombia
like those shown here.
Photo: Garry M. Leech
One wonders who makes the decision to suppress these potential
newspaper-selling headline stories. Can it come directly from the White House?
After all, in an attempt to stand by his most loyal ally at a time of great
“need,” President George W. Bush has scheduled a visit to
Bogotá, Colombia, during his tour through Latin America March 8 to 14.
This is the first time a U.S. president will visit Bogotá since John F.
Kennedy went. Bush will also visit Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Uruguay.
What are Uribe’s ties, now being exposed?
Since the discovery last year of the seized computer of paramilitary leader
Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40,” a string of exposures, like a
domino effect, have been occurring almost daily in that nation. Apparently a
large number of government officials have worked in partnership with
paramilitaries carrying out voter fraud, intimidating voters, grabbing land,
and committing violence targeting political opponents, social activists and
union leaders. The violence includes kidnapping and assassinations,
Eight congressmen have been arrested and are now in jail because of their
collaboration with paramilitaries. All are from pro-Uribe political parties and
organizations. According to a statement of the opposition party, Alternative
Democratic Pole ( PDA), sent by e-mail on Feb. 23, “There are close to
100 pro-Uribe political leaders either in jail, fugitive or mentioned because
of their ties to powerful illegal armed organizations.”
On Feb.19, María Consuelo Araujo, the young foreign minister whom Uribe
had fervently defended from opposition criticism, was forced to resign. This
followed the arrest of her brother, Álvaro Araujo, a former governor and a
pro-Uribe senator, along with four others. The Supreme Court ordered the arrest
on the basis of Álvaro Araujo’s ties to Jorge 40 and his role in the
kidnapping of a politician who interfered with Araujo’s election. The
foreign minister’s father, Álvaro Araujo Noguera, is also under
investigation for similar charges.
Three days later, on Feb. 22, Jorge Noguera, a close ally of and 2002 electoral
campaign manager for Uribe, who was also director of the Department of
Administrative Security (DAS), or secret police, was arrested. Noguera was
charged with having given a “hit list” of trade unionists, human
rights advocates and other social activists to the paramilitaries. Several
people named in the list were eventually killed.
Noguera’s arrest has been the single worst nightmare for Uribe. According
to an investigation by the prosecution’s office, Noguera had met at least
nine times with Álvaro Pupo Castro, spokesperson for the paramilitary
chiefs and cousin of Jorge 40, in his office at the DAS.
According to Rafael García, former head of data processing for the DAS,
Pupo Castro took the secret DAS information to Jorge 40 and the list of 15
trade union leaders who were then killed in Barranquilla (El Tiempo, Feb 22,
2007). García himself was detained in 2005 and charged with erasing the
files of drug traffickers and paramilitaries from the DAS database.
Since then, he has collaborated with the prosecution as a key witness against
Noguera. As a result of García’s detention, Noguera resigned from
his DAS post. Uribe named him to the consulate in Milan, Italy, from which he
resigned last year surrounded by scandal.
Uribe has given no convincing explanation. Instead, following Bush’s
dictum of “if you are not with me, you are against me” and the old
saying of “a good offense is the best defense,” Uribe has embarked
on a vicious and deadly campaign of accusations against the opposition. Even
before the current exposés, there was ample proof that the paramilitaries
in Colombia are loyal followers of Uribe and his word is their supreme
Several leaders of the PDA, among them Sen. Gustavo Petro, have exposed
pro-Uribe elements. Petro has asked for a congressional debate to inquire about
the ties of politicians, businessmen and other sectors with paramilitarism in
Antioquia. A former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement, Petro has
consistently accused Uribe of allowing paramilitary ties with the politicians
to end in the terrible violence disrupting the country with massacres,
selective assassinations, kidnappings, etc. Uribe, in turn, has accused Petro
and others of being “terrorists dressed in business suits.”
Two days after Uribe’s statement, a new paramilitary grouping, the Black
Eagles, sent a death threat to dozens of social, labor, student and alternative
media organizations. Petro’s brother was also threatened. Two members of
the PDA were killed under suspicious circumstances.
Uribe has also lashed out against other opposition figures. He has called the
director of the weekly magazine VOZ of the Colombian Communist Party (CCP),
Carlos Lozano, a “FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia]
accomplice”. This has the same effect as writing Lozano’s name on
the hit list of the death squads.
A CCP statement says, “The irresponsible declarations of Alvaro Uribe
.... are a conscious provocation by the chief of state meant to continue the
witch-hunt with which he attempts to defend himself from the charges that the
prosecution and the Supreme Court have brought against his spokespeople in the
A great deal of publicity has been given to the supposed demobilization of the
Colombian Self Defense Units (AUC) or paramilitaries. Salvatore Mancuso, a
well-known head of the Catatumbo Bloc of the AUC and responsible for the deaths
of at least 5,200 people, is currently in jail. He took advantage of
Uribe’s “Justice and Peace” law, which allows paramilitaries
to confess their crimes in exchange for a lighter sentence, and has said that
“the rearmament of the self-defense forces is a crude reality that we
cannot avoid or minimize...” (taken from a statement from FENSUAGRO, the
national campesino union).
Next: More violence against Colombian organizations: Who are the Black Eagles? What is the U.S. role? And the visit of Gustavo
Petro to Washington.
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