More than 130 Colombian congressional candidates linked to paramilitaries, mafia, guerrillas
Some 131 candidates in Colombia´s congressional elections next weekend have been linked to paramilitaries, organized crime groups or guerrillas.
The investigation by the Fundación Paz y Reconciliación found that 83 candidates for the House of Representatives and 48 for the Senate in Sunday´s national elections have links to illegal armed organizations.
Colombian political life has a long history of infiltration by armed groups, especially the drug dealers, paramilitaries and guerrillas who use their money and arms to intimidate and murder opponents.
Some 150 congressional representatives, 25 governors y 60 mayors were investigated for paramilitary activities between 2006 and 2011. Some were jailed, and others suspended for their activities, but it is clear that many also used their influence and connections to evade justice.
Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro revealed much of the parapolitica scandal beginning in 2002 when he was an opposition senator. Paramilitary leader Salvador Mancuso estimated some 35 per cent of the Colombian congress was elected with the money and support of the paramilitaries who control much of the Colombian drug trade and many legal businesses as well.
Colombia´s Liberal and Conservative parties and the Partido de la U were identified as the three organizations with the most criminal connections, according to the three-month study by the Fundación Paz y Reconciliación.
Colombia´s most infamous drug trafficker of all time Pablo Escobar was elected in 1982 as a Liberal deputy member of the House of Representatives.
Then Colombian president Ernesto Samper was investigated in the late 1990s when taped conversations revealed his presidential campaign was financed by drug dealers. The investigation against him was inconclusive, but high-ranking members of his campaign were convicted and jailed.
Many of the suspected paramilitary, mafia and guerrilla candidates are spouses, children or brothers and sisters of former politicians previously imprisoned or charged with organized crime, paramilitary or guerrilla activities, according to the study.
For more information please read: