Paramilitary threat increasing in coming Colombian elections

The threatening presence of paramilitaries grows by the day as Colombia moves towards its congressional and presidential elections.

Uribe protest

(Photo credit: Public Citizen) Colombian elections have been infiltrated and corrupted by paramilitary links with politicians for decades. More evidence amounts by the day of paramilitary activities in the coming congressional elections in March and presidential elections in May.

National prosecutor Eduardo Montealgre responded to the growing threat Thursday with news that his department has a plan to prevent the paramilitaries from infiltrating and corrupting Colombian elections.

“We are going to designate more than 100 officials” from the national prosecutors department and the national police to combat the problem, Montealegre said.

Colombia has experienced severe problems with paramilitary infiltration and intimidation of voters who were denied secret ballots in previous elections. The problems were most severe in the northern, Atlantic region, the eastern frontier with Venezuela and on the Pacific coast.

Colombia’s parapolitica scandal developed after it become known that paramilitary leaders met with a number of congressional representatives in 2001 and reached an agreement to dominate and attempt to gain control of national politics.

Paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso said in 2001 that some 30 per cent of the congress was on good terms with the paramilitary forces.

In 2012, there were more than 130 members of the Colombian congress under investigation for connections with paramilitary forces. Mario Uribe Escobar, the cousin of former president Ávaro Uribe, was convicted of paramilitary activities.

Uribe has frequently been denounced for paramilitary ties and has been investigated on numerous occasions.He is currently running for senate and has a slate of candidates in his party Uribe Centro Democrático. His campaign has been dogged by protests opposed to his paramilitary links.

One paramilitary group, Las Águilas Negras (The Black Eagles) has recently pledged it´s time for a “social cleansing” in Soacha and Ciudad Bolívar on the outskirts of Bogotá, after an Uribe campaign stop was disrupted by tomoatoe throwing protesters.

A male student and a young woman have been murdered since the paramilitary forces announced their campaign with posters plastered around the community, but police forces said the murders are not linked to paramilitaries.

Paramilitaries are responsible for the assassinations of tens of thousands of Colombians including left-wing politicians, trade union leaders and human rights defenders. They are believed responsible for some 70 to 80 per cent of political killings and have worked in tandem with military and police.

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Paramilitary threat increasing in coming Colombian elections”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    Great summary of the situation. It shows how feeble the ‘demobilisation’ of the paracos was under the ‘truth and justice’ initiative. I think Montealegre might need more than 100 officials to combat the problem.

    • Connecting Colombias says :

      Yes, and thousands of “former” paramilitaries will likely be released from prison this year after serving the maximum eight-year sentences they received. Not a pleasant thought. I suspect Montealegre, who seems genuine in his concerns, is severely undermanned.

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