“What we do, we do with your permission” “Particular concern” from the House Armed Services Committee
May 162007

People who allegedly conspired with top paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, according to Mancuso’s “Justice and Peace” testimony yesterday, which covered events up to 1997:

  • Vice-President Francisco Santos, who Mancuso says met with him four times and proposed the creation of a paramilitary bloc in Bogotá.
  • Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who Mancuso says proposed a joint effort to overthrow then-President Ernesto Samper. (Santos told reporters that his 1997 meeting with Mancuso were part of a peace-building effort.)
  • Army Gen. Rito Alejo del Río, head of the 17th Brigade in the northwestern region of Urabá at the time of a bloody paramilitary offensive in the zone (and at the time that Álvaro Uribe was governor of Antioquia, the department that includes much of Urabá).
  • Army Gen. Martín Orlando Carreño, who succeeded Gen. Alejo in Urabá, and who in 2003-2004 was the chief of Colombia’s army. (Carreño told reporters yesterday that Mancuso was seeking revenge “because I dedicated myself to attacking the paramilitaries permanently.”)
  • Army Gen. Iván Ramírez.
  • Former National Police Chief, and current Ambassador to Austria, Gen. Rosso José Serrano: according to Mancuso, when he and top paramilitary leader “Jorge 40″ were detained by police in La Guajira, they were released after drug-trafficker and future paramilitary leader “Don Berna” contacted Gen. Serrano to request that they be freed.
  • Sen. Miguel de la Espriella and former Rep. Eleonora Pineda, both placed under arrest on Monday, whom Mancuso called “our congresspeople.”
  • Sen. Mario Uribe, the president’s cousin, who asked Mancuso to support Eleonora Pineda’s candidacy.

People revealed to have been subject to more than 8,000 hours of illegal police wiretaps over the past three years, in a scandal that emerged this week:

  • Carlos Gaviria, candidate of the opposition Polo Democrático party in the May 2006 presidential elections. Gaviria finished second in the voting to President Álvaro Uribe.
  • Paramilitary leaders currently in the Itagüí maximum-security prison near Medellín.
  • Many, many others. Defense Minister Santos said yesterday, “Many people had their phones intercepted, members of the government, of the opposition, public figures, journalists. … I saw a recording [of a conversation] between [television journalist] Claudia Gurisatti and Carlos Gaviria: that’s as far as we’ve read. I saw others, but it’s not worth the trouble to mention the names.”

5 Responses to “Re-capping yesterday in Colombia”

  1. jcg Says:

    Mancuso’s allegations can certainly have serious consequences, but the allegations alone are not evidence of anything.

    While some (rainer here, in particular) have speculated that Mancuso may now be telling the truth about high-level paramilitary links and the government may have leaked the Itagui tapes as a reaction to that, things are still too unclear at this point.

    Nothing really prevents Mancuso from mixing up legitimate truths with lies and half-truths that may also be of us to him and his colleagues. Those of us who do not know any better are free to speculate about it, but not much else.

  2. Randy Paul Says:


    That may be true, but it does pass the smell test. In other words, would any of this surprise you?

  3. jcg Says:

    Randy: It depends.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all in the cases of Rito Alejo del Río, Sen. Miguel de la Espriella and former Rep. Eleonora Pineda, for example.

    I would, however, be at least somewhat surprised in the cases of Francisco Santos,(to a lesser degree) Juan Manuel Santos, Rosso José Serrano and César Gaviria (not mentioned here in CIP, but apparently Mancuso did make references to him). I wouldn’t automatically say that any and all those claims pass the “smell test” at first glance, though I can’t throw them out either.

  4. Jaime Bustos Says:

    The previous comments probably are not made by national colombians. But for some of us who have been well informed along the way, all the people you mention above have been at one time or another, whether by book writers, journalists or short press articles, mentioned as agents of wrongdoing, commonly linked to drug trafficking, power abuse and/or obscure liaisons.

  5. Randy Paul Says:


    I wouldn’t be surprised at any of this.

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