Not posting much this week A Bad Month for Colombian Labor Rights
Sep 302008

[Regular posting should begin again Thursday. In the meantime, here is a post from CIP Intern Anthony Dest.]

In a recent interview with Gustavo Gómez of the Colombian magazine Semana, Colombian lawyer Abelardo de la Espriella offered a spirited defense of his work defending paramilitary leaders, para-politicians and businesses with questionable financing, such as David Murcia’s highly questioned DMG holding company.

De la Espriella’s unabashed responses offer a glimpse into a powerful sector of Colombia’s politics and society that continues to resist the rule of law. As the “para-politics” scandal has shown, this sector has been an important base of political support for President Alvaro Uribe.

Here are a few translated quotes from the interview:

Gustavo Gómez: Have you ever received money from ‘Ernesto Báez,’ Salvatore Mancuso or ‘Jorge 40?’ [All three individuals are currently in U.S. or Colombian prisons awaiting trial for drug or human-rights crimes related to their leadership roles in the AUC.]

Abelardo de la Espriella: Never, and I will submit myself to a polygraph if you like, Gustavo.

Gustavo Gómez: Are you friends with them?

Abelardo de la Espriella: I met ‘Ernesto Báez,’ whom I consider the romantic of the paramilitaries, and ‘Jorge 40′ at the negotiation table and we formed a good friendship. Mancuso is my paisano, and he took on a struggle that all of us from Córdoba should have supported. If I were in his place, I would have have done the same thing. Critics have wanted to call me a paramilitary, but, like Uribe says, if they had wanted to kill and extort me, I would have been a true paramilitary, with a uniform and a gun.

Gustavo Gómez: Does the title “defender of para-politics” make you proud?

Abelardo de la Espriella: Of course, now I would like for someone to give me the title of ‘Defender of DMG,’ or that people will begin use the nickname [investigative journalist Daniel] Coronell gave me: the “Proxy.” ["El Apoderado"] Sometimes I answer the phone when my friends call and when they ask me who is speaking I tell them: “the Proxy.”

2 Responses to “The para-politicians’ “proxy””

  1. Jaime Bustos Says:

    They feel proud about uribe, they feel proud about Escobar, they think they are next to rambo in the podium of macho man. Were it not for having read History and being aware of most world affairs I’d dare say they are the scum of this earth, with brawn for brains in humanoid’s shape. But then again, I think they are the rule and not the exception.

  2. Steve Says:

    It’s true stars like that who just make you love a place like Colombia.

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