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Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Sent and translated by Lawyers Collective

The Office of the Attorney General should initiate a serious and thorough investigation:

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective  
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”
Bogotá, Colombia
13 August, 2007  
In testimony provided to the Justice and Peace Prosecutorial Unit in the City of Medellín, Antioquia, on May
16, 2007, paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso revealed the names of several senior Colombian
government officials, politicians, and military officers that have ties with paramilitary groups.  
As a part of his testimony, Mancuso confirmed denunciations by many human rights organizations with
respect to the emergence and consolidation of paramilitarism in Colombia owing to a State policy, basing
his argument on counter-guerrilla army manuals from 1963. [1] The paramilitary chief also sustained that
the current vicepresident of Colombia, Francisco Santos Calderón, proposed creating the Capital Bloc of the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), which indeed were
established and operate in the city of Bogotá D.C. [2]  
Additionally, Mancuso asserted that Francisco Santos told Carlos Castaño, former commander of this same
organization, “that he liked the model [of the self-defense forces] in Córdoba and that he would like for them
to be repeated in Bogotá.” He then sustained “[Carlos] Castaño proposed that [Francisco] Santos command
the Capital Bloc; however [Santos] rejected this, saying he didn’t know about these things.” Later, Santos
wrote a newspaper column titled “Counter-Insurgent Project” in which he referred to the AUC. [3]
Capital Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
The AUC Capital Bloc was first seen in Bogotá in 2000, as a part of the Centauros Bloc, which was born from
the paramilitary incursion led by Vicente Castaño Gil in Mapiripán, Meta, in 1998. In October 2001, the murders
of congressmembers Octavio Sarmiento and Luis Alfredo Colmenares Chía –who were accused of aiding the
insurgency- were attributed to this paramilitary bloc. [4] Said criminal structure was also held responsible for
the murder of countless young people in the localities of Bosa and Ciudad Bolívar as well as the sector of Altos
de Cazucá, the largest recipient community of internally displaced persons in Colombia. For many years now,
different social organizations and leaders have spoken out against this extermination of young people at the
hands of the AUC Capital Bloc. [5]
Furthermore, civilian leaders have asserted that armed men would violently enter residences and remove
persons from their homes. They would also frequently force people off the public transport to check if their
names appeared on death lists, in which case they were taken and never seen again. [6]
At the previously described hearing, paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso swore under oath to the charges
made against third parties, including those he made against Vicepresident Santos. [7] Nonetheless, Attorney
General Mario Iguarán Arana sustained he was not the proper authority to investigate the vicepresident and
that it was unclear what authority should carry out the investigation, even though he had publicly committed
himself to investigating all persons accused by Mancuso of having ties with paramilitary groups. [8]
In this sense, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective urges the Attorney General to initiate a serious
and thorough investigation of the charges made by Salvatore Mancuso, and especially those against
Vicepresident Francisco Santos Calderón. Likewise, we continue to ask the international community to provide
ongoing follow-up to the current situation in Colombia with respect to ties between public servants and
paramilitary groups.
1 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, Bogotá, Colombia, May 15, 2007. Available at:
2 Semana Magazine, National Section, Bogotá, Colombia, June 10, 2003. Available at:
3 Semana Magazine, National Section, Bogotá, Colombia, May 15, 2007. Available at:
4 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, Bogotá, Colombia, November 6, 2004. Available at:
5 Extermination of Youth in Altos de Cazucá. Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services, Bi-Weekly
Peace and Conflict Bulletin, Bogotá, Colombia, March 31 to April 15, 2004. Available at:
6 For more information, please see: <http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/colombia/doc/chiquitin1.html>.
7 El Meridiano. Monteria, Córodoba
8 El Tiempo Newspaper, Justice Section, May 20, 2007
[On July 28, 2007, the principal Colombian human rights and peace coalitions sent the following letter to the
Attorney General’s Office requesting information on the investigations being carried out against Vicepresident
Francisco Santos.]

July 28, 2007  
Bogotá D.C.  
Mario Iguarán Arana  
Attorney General  
Honorable Attorney General,  
We the undersigned as spokespersons from human rights and peace organizations address you now to present
the following right to petition with the purpose of requesting you to inform us of the name and post of the
official from the Office of the Attorney General responsible for handling the investigation that should have been
initiated against Mr. FRANCISCO SANTOS, Vicepresident of the Republic, for his presumed ties with paramilitary
groups.  Moreover, we request to be informed on the investigation’s file number as well as the current state of
the process.  This request is motivated by the following acts:  
1.    As is publicly known, on May 16, 2007, in the city of Medellín, Salvatore Mancuso provided testimony before
the Justice and Peace Court in which he stated that the current Vicepresident of the Republic had met with him,
as well as other important paramilitary commanders, on at least 6 occasions. At these meetings, Mr. Santos
requested for the creation of a paramilitary structure in Bogotá.  
2.    After this information was revealed, the Vicepresident issued a public pronouncement in which he requested
for the corresponding authorities to initiate and finalize –as soon as possible- any pertinent criminal and
disciplinary investigations.  
3.    On previous occasions, both prior to and following the described acts, you made pronouncements on this
matter to the effect that any link between public officials and paramilitary groups emerging from the hearings
of the Law of Justice and Peace would be investigated.  For instance, on May 20, in an interview with the
journalist YAMID AMAT, you stated that you would transfer the matter concerning the Vicepresident to the
Prosecutor Delegate before the Supreme  Court of Justice.  
As you well know, this situation strongly influences the normal life of democratic processes in our country,
especially due to the investiture held by Mr. Francisco Santos Calderón and in particular due to him being in
charge of the human rights policy for the current government.  Uncertainty concerning the reality of the acts,
as well as the possible veracity of this testimony, has reduced the chances for a healthy environment between
citizens and authorities, and especially between human rights and peace organizations and the Vicepresidency
of the Republic.  
In this regard, it is important to remember the role fulfilled by an independent and impartial judicature under a
social and democratic rule of law, and in particular with respect to the  processing of senior government officials.  
Due to the foregoing reasons, we believe it is of utmost importance for the Office of the Attorney General to
carry out a criminal investigation quickly and effectively so as to establish the possible responsibility of Dr.
FRANCISCO SANTOS in the creation of paramilitary groups.  
Lastly, we ask you to send your response to the following address:  
Carrera 10 No 24-76, Oficina 905, Bogotá D.C.  
ALLIANCE OF SOCIAL AND RELATED ORGANIZATIONS (Alianza de Organizaciones Sociales y Afines)                      
Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarollo)  
PERMANENT ASSEMBLY OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY FOR PEACE (Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz)  
"No podrá haber paz mientras subsistan diferencias tan profundas, desproporcionadas e irritantes  en la suerte de
las personas y de los pueblos." - José Alvear Restrepo
"Peace is not possible as long as such profound, disproportionate, and aggravating differences  exist in the fate of
persons and peoples." - José Alvear Restrepo



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