Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Colombia’s ‘Parapolitics’

Colombias Parapolitics

Former Colombian senator, Mario Uribe Escobar, has been found guilty of having connections with the Colombian right-wing paramilitary death squad, United-Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Escobar is also the cousin of former president, Alvaro Uribe, who finished his presidential term in 2010. He was known to be an important and close ally of the former president and served in the Colombian Congress from 1994 to 2008 and was president of Congress from 2001 to 2002.

Escobar was arrested in 2008 and held for several months until he was released for lack of evidence. He was rearrested in 2010 and is also being investigated for his connection with crimes against humanity committed by the paramilitary group. The former senator denies having any connection with the AUC and “having zero paramilitaries in his life.”

Links between the Colombian government and the paramilitary group, which is commonly referred to as “parapolitics,” is nothing new in the Latin American country.

The extent of the paramilitaries influence was revealed when Uribe was still president. In 2007, the Colombian Supreme Court had brought to revelation several cases of politicians and officials of having close ties with the paramilitaries. Details became public when authorities seized a computer belonging to an AUC commander known as “Jorge 40”. The information inside the computer revealed a list of politicians that had worked with Jorge 40 to “intimidate voters, seize land, and kidnap or kill trade unionists and political rivals.” The discovery resulted in the arrest of ten “pro-Uribe” politicians and the resignation of the foreign minister.

Currently, as many as 70 congressmen have been investigated and charged for links with the paramilitaries. Almost half of these congressmen have already been convicted for their crimes. Most of the politicians that are being charged had been known to be “pro-Uribe”.

The former head of the DAS, Colombia’s intelligence agency, was also arrested for connections with the AUC. He had been in connection with Jorge 40 in collaboration with an assassination plot against Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, plots to murder political opponents, electoral fraud, and erasing police and judicial records on paramilitary cases.

The AUC has its origins within the formation of paramilitary groups in the 1980s. Paramilitary groups were started by drug lords and large landowners and raised arms in self-defense against left-wing guerrillas. The AUC was formed in 1997 and is an umbrella group of multiple right-wing paramilitaries. They soon became known for their massacres and drug trafficking. They have robbed peasants of millions of acres of land and have internally displaced about three million people.

The AUC has also been accused of receiving strategic aid from Colombia’s security forces. Human Rights Watch once declared paramilitaries like the AUC to be the “6th branch of the Colombian military.”

In 2003, under a peace deal, the AUC surrendered in exchange for shortened prison terms and protection from extradition. About 32,000 members have demobilized but some continue to operate. The U.S. State Department in 2008 reported that members of the Colombian military continue to collaborate with “paramilitary members who refused to demobilize…collaboration often facilitated unlawful killings and may have involved direct participation in atrocities.” Colombia continues to be one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid in the world.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Suffolk Journal Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Colombia’s ‘Parapolitics’