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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorials to Oppose Silence and Impunity. Never More Crimes of the State

(Translated by Steven Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

Medellín, May 18, 2007

We are uniting to contribute to the recovery of the historical memory
of these crimes against humanity in Antioquia through the truth of
the victims, sensitizing society about the effects that the
paramilitary strategy of the State has had, and about the phase of
legitimizing the model of social, political and economic control that
benefits those responsible for grave and persistent violations of
human rights.

The campaign, "Memorials to Oppose Silence and Impunity. Never More
Crimes of the State," makes known that during May 15, 16 and 17 of
this year, the "spontaneous declaration" of the paramilitary head
Salvatore Mancuso continued, in the face of which we communicate the

1. The opening of the "spontaneous declaration" had as a fundamental
ingredient the explanation of the rise of state-supported
paramilitarism as a policy designed in high establishment circles as
an application of the theory of national security. The public
security forced were given the mission of developing it and
implementing it, especially through a set of regulations and
execution following different operations manuals issued since the
middle of the decade of the 60s.

Since 1992, Mancuso was attached as a paramilitary to serve the
National Army, charged with putting together and commanding a
structure made up of approximately fifteen (15) men who would serve
and support in covert and counterinsurgency operations in the zones
in which the XI and XVII Brigades of the National Army were present
and maintained control; that is in the department of Córdoba and in
the Antioquian region of Urabá. He stated that he had a relationship
and direct contacts with the commanders of these brigades, among them
Generals Charri Lozano, Martín Orlando Carreño Sandoval and Rito
Alejo del Río, and indicated as well a large number of officers with
whom he carried out operations on the ground. He indicated that
thanks to the support provided by the First Division of the National
Army headed by General Iván Ramírez, they were able to expand and
consolidate paramilitary power in the north of the country, and with
the direct collaboration of General Rito Alejo del Río, when he
served as commander of the XVII Brigade, they managed to exercise
control and dominion over the Urabá region. Mancuso declared that he
is living proof of State paramilitarism.

2. The paramilitary leader was clear in his versión libre was clear
in indicating, in relation to the theme of "parapolitics," that that
some members of congress acted directly under the leadership of the
Bloque Norte (Northern Bloc) of the Autodefensas (paramilitaries) as
was the case of Senator Miguel Alfonso de la Espriella and
Representative Eleanora Pineda. He offered the names of other members
of congress like Zulema Jattín, Reinado Montes Álvarez, Julio Alberto
Manzur, Salomón Nader, Libardo López, Musa Besaile, among other, with
whom agreements were reached to receive direct support in their
political campaigns that would allow them to gain the necessary votes
so they could be elected to the Congress of the Republic. He made
known the details about how an agreement was reached with Senator
Mario Uribe consisting of the delivery of votes in given regions of
the department of Córdoba under the condition that he would support
the candidacy of Eleanora Pineda to the Chamber of Representatives
anddefend the interests of the paramilitaries in the Senate of the

He stated that in the entire zone in which the Bloque Norte of the
Autodefensas had a presence, it was not possible to carry out
political work without their consent. He was emphatic in pointing out
that the current Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, and the
current Vice President of the Republic, Francisco Santos, met with
him on different occasions. The latter had at least four (4) meetings
with the paramilitaries in two of which Mancuso participated directly
along with Carlos Castaño and two more in which the paramilitary
leader Jorge Cuarenta was presente. In all of them the theme was the
creation of a paramilitary bloc that would operate in the city of
Bogotá, an initiative proposed directly by Francisco Santos.

3. In his "spontaneous declaration", he pointed out the support of
cattle raisers and businessmen to obtain the necessary resources to
strengthen and expand the paramilitary project in some regions of the
country. He pointed out that they obstained the direct collaboration
of Javier Piedrahita, Joaquín García, Elías Vélez, Jaime Isaac,
Humberto Vergara, Gregorio Otero, Mauricio Aristizabal, Víctor Guerra
de la Espriella, José Guerra Tulena and Eduar Cobos, all of them
cattlemen and businessmen of the northern part of the country. He
also pointed out that he received direct economic support from
domestic and transnational businesses like: Postobón (which belongs
to the Ardila Lule group), Bavaria y Reforestadora Monterrey (which
belongs to the Santodomingo group), Expreso Brasilia, Copetran,
Ecopetrol, Uniban, Bielmonte, Proban, Triples Pizano, Chiquita
Brands, Vikingos fish company, Carbones del Caribe and Prodeco.

4. In the course of his testimony, he was emphatic in indicating that
he was in negotiations with the United States government and that he
had even accepted the charges of drug trafficking brought before a
federal court in Miami. He acknowledged that during the years between
1997 and 2004 his paramilitary structure was responsible for the
production and marketing of approximately 220,000 kilograms (approx
100,000 pounds) of cocaine hydrochloride, and that to develop this
company he had the support and participation of personnel of the
Armed Forces, the Air Force, the Marines, the DAS (security
directorate), and the Public Prosecutors.

5. The Justice and Peace Prosecutor charged with conducting the
"spontaneous declaration" implemented a work method that at some
points made impossible the delivery of all the information and the
witness intended to convey. We are concerned that this attitude might
have been the result of a deliberate interest in avoiding the
paramilitary leader Mancuso's conveying precise information related
to "parapolitics," as he had announced to various communication media
over the previous week—or that it might be owing to technical
failings on the part of the functionary in interrogating and
conducting the statement so as to get to the truth.

6. The threats of which the victims of the paramilitary structures
have been the objects have resulted in their no participating in the
"spontaneous declarations" brought forth within the framework of the
justice and peace law. In the testimony brought forward by the
paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, their absence has been
notorious; in fact, some of those who came to the victims' room said
that they had been warned that they could not return to their native
soil. Another thing that has contributed to the victims' absence is
the ever more demanding requirements established by the Attorney
General of the Nation, submitting these persons to a rigorous process
in collecting information and documentation. Many of the victims want
to come, but without leaving a detailed registry of their presence,
with the goal of avoiding later reprisals as happened I the case of
the victims' leader Yolanda Izquierdo.

7. Despite the information provided by Salvatore Mancuso, the victims
are still waiting for the truth about the crimes committed against
their loved ones, for the true motives for their murder or
disappearance to be confessed, that the location of the mass graves
where their bodies rest be handed over as part of the process of

In the face of all this, the campaign, "Memorials to Oppose Silence
and Impunity. Never More Crimes of the State," points out its
concerns that:

- The negotiation that has been started between the US
government and the paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso constitutes
a direct passport to impunity for crimes against humanity committed
by this person, who will manage to be safe from Colombian and
international penal jurisdiction

- The lack of interest by the paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso in
confessing the crimes he committed against humanity in fulfillment of
one of the essential purposes indicated by the Constitutional Court
in their Sentence C-370 of 2006 in order to have access to the
judicial benefits.

- The role that the current Vice President of the republic,
Francisco Santos, may have been carrying out to gain recognition and
legitimization of a project that has sown death and terror among the
Colombian nation, leaves doubts about the work that he is advancing
as the person responsible for the human rights policies of the Uribe

- The lack of guarantees that the victims might be recognized
as such in the processes moved forward under Justice and Peace, and
that they might be able to exercise their rights free of threats,
intimidations and attempts on their lives, as has been happening.


Asamblea Regional de Derechos Humanos (Regional Human Rights Assembly),
Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (National
Movement of Victims of State Crimes),
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos desaparecidos (Asfaddes)
Association of Families of Detained and Dsappeared),
Asamblea Regional de Derechos Humanos de Antioquia (Regional Human
Rights Assembly of Antioquia),
Nodo Antioquia de la Coordinación Colombia Estados Unidos (Antioquia
Node of the Colombia-United States Coordination),
Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Semillas de Libertad (CODEHSEL) Seed of
Liberty Human Rights Collective,
Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) (United Workers Federation),
Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA) (Teachers Association
of Antioquia),
Asonal Judicial (National Association of Civil Servants and Employees
in the Judicial Branch),
Red Juvenil de Medellín (Medellín Youth Network),
Instituto Popular de Capacitación (IPC) (People's Training Institute),
Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos (GIDH)
(Interdisciplinary Human Rights Group),
Capítulo de derechos humanos del Polo Democrático Alternativo (Human
rights chapter of the Polo Demócratico Alternativo, the Alternative
Democratic Pole, a progressive opposition party),
Corporación El Solar (El Solar legal firm),
FASOL (German Fund for Solidarity with the Victims of Violence),
Comité Permanente Héctor Abad Gómez (Héctor Abad Gómez Permanent
Red Europea de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia (European Network
of Bortherhood and Solidarity),
Corporación Cultural La Aldaba La Aldaba Cultural Organization),
Asociación Campesina de Antioquia (Peasant Organization of Antioquia),
Comité de Derechos Humanos Gustavo Marulanda (Gustavo Marulanda Human
Rights Committee),
Campaña por la Vida y la Libertad, (Campaign for Life and Liberty)
Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (Foundation
Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners),
Contracorriente ("Against the Current", a student human right working
Fundación Sumapaz (Sumapaz Fundation),
Cristianos y Cristianas por la Justicia y la Paz (Men and Women
Christians for Justice and Peace),
Corporación Jurídica Libertad (Libertad legal firm).



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