Monday, May 24, 2010

Colombia / Paramilitarism

Colombian President's Brother Said to Have Lead [sic] Death Squads
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, May 24, 2010
"Colombian President Álvaro Uribe will leave office in August having largely succeeded in winning control of once-lawless swaths of countryside from Marxist rebels, an accomplishment partly made possible by more than $6 billion in US aid. But Uribe's government has also been tarnished by scandals, including accusations in congressional hearings that death squads hatched plots at his ranch in the 1980s and revelations that the secret police under his control spied on political opponents and helped kill leftist activists. Now a former police major, Juan Carlos Meneses, has alleged that Uribe's younger brother, Santiago Uribe, led a fearsome paramilitary group in the 1990s in this northern town that killed petty thieves, guerrilla sympathizers and suspected subversives. In an interview with The Washington Post, Meneses said the group's hit men trained at La Carolina, where the Uribe family ran an agro-business in the early 1990s. The revelations threaten to renew a criminal investigation against Santiago Uribe and raise new questions about the president's past in a region where private militias funded with drug-trafficking proceeds and supported by cattlemen wreaked havoc in the 1990s.
The disclosures could prove uncomfortable to the United States, which has long seen Uribe as a trusted caretaker of American money in the fight against armed groups and the cocaine trade. ... Human rights groups have long demanded that Uribe clarify his role, if any, in the formation of some of those groups, whose extensive war crimes are being untangled by special teams of prosecutors. Uribe was senator and then governor in this state, Antioquia, where the number of paramilitary groups grew exponentially with the help of military forces and business interests that wanted a proxy force to fight then-potent guerrilla forces. [...]"

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