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Oct 162008

From the 2007 book Confesiones de un Paraco, published excerpts from the diary of onetime paramilitary fighter Eduin Guzmán.

I went with my bodyguard to El Trincho. I arrived at the ranch where we had agreed to meet with Miguel [Arroyave, then head of the AUC's Centaurs Bloc, operating in Colombia's eastern plains], who had still not arrived. I waited for him about two hours. When he arrived and after greeting each other, he asked me:

“So things haven’t been going so well?”

I explained to him about the many killed [in recent combat with the guerrillas]. …

“Don’t worry, ask for the coordinates of where those dogs are dug in. A politician friend of mine has done me the favor of coordinating with the Air Force so that they can carry out a bombing, the only thing needed to do it is the coordinates. This favor had to be asked directly from Bogotá. Can you believe that those bastards in Apiay [the largest air-force base in Meta] get the money and now they don’t do anything but make excuses and don’t agree to anything.” …

I called Belisario on the radio and asked him for the coordinates. He responded very pleased with the news and he told me that I couldn’t imagine the effect that this would have on our people’s morale. I gave Miguel the coordinates and told him what Belisario said, how the people were hopeful for this aerial support. That this would be the best thing to revive the troops’ morale.

Miguel said:

“Wait and see, these sons of whores are very aggressive and they don’t know what is going to fall on them.”

About 40 minutes after Miguel called, two [Brazilian-made] Tucano planes and four Harpy [modified Blackhawk] helicopters. They started to bomb almost all of La Cooperativa. We saw fragmentation bombs, 500-pound bombs and rockets falling over this village, like nobody could have imagined.

Around 4:00 PM Belisario called me, very contented about the results, and he said to me:

Comandante, we did it! Thank God, we did it! We got rid of all of them, there’s no one left standing there, they’re all dead!”

The happiness also took over Miguel:

“We beat those sons of whores; I’ll kiss that general who helped us on his [reproductive organs] if it’s necessary; those are the people we need on our side!”

Miguel almost hadn’t finished speaking, when one of my bodyguards passed me the radio and, on another frequency, we heard commander “Pólvora,” who said:

“Those sons of whores turned on us, now they’re giving it to us!”

I asked him what was happening, and in a very agitated and frightened state he confirmed to me that he was running, and we hardly understood him:

“Those Air Force bastards turned on us: they’re bombing us, they just dropped a bomb as big as a cow on us, and it made sh*t fly all over the place. I don’t know how what’s left of us are going to save ourselves.”

Miguel immediately made a satellite telephone call to someone who he called “Mi General,” and the bombing immediately stopped; the planes and helicopters vacated the zone.

From a report yesterday from one of Colombia’s main television networks, RCN.

In a video revealed by the RCN Channel, it is observed that, before a Justice and Peace prosecutor, Miguel Ángel Mejía Múnera, alias “The Twin,” testified that some of the paramilitaries’ anti-guerrilla operations were supported by Air Force combat aircraft.

[Mejía Múnera, "the Twin," a major narcotrafficker who later joined the paramilitaries, was captured earlier this year days after authorities killed his twin brother, also a top wanted narcotrafficker.]

According to the words of alias “The Twin,” there were two opportunities when the Air Force supposedly lent support to paramilitaries under his command, when they were being besieged and confronted by guerrilla fronts. The paramilitary chief explained that, supposedly, all he had to do was make a call in order for airplanes and helicopters to appear at the sites where they were.

“At a certain moment when the guerrillas’ pressure on us was very intense, after more than eight hours of continuous combat, the commander alias ‘Martín’ requested through comandante Miguel Arroyave, of the Centauros Bloc, support in the sense that our forces would be supported by [Israeli-made] Kfir fighter planes, from the Air Force,” Mejía Múnera expressed.

According to this confession, half an hour later the paramilitaries’ commander received a call indicating that they had retreated from the area, since the military helicopters and planes were about to arrive and bomb the guerrillas.

“Thirty or forty minutes later, the two Kfir planes arrived. First they flew over the zone, and later they carried out a phased bombing, finally they carried out two more overflights and left. Next came the helicopters, which dedicated themselves to shooting up the zone that had been bombed,” alias “The Twin” commented.

2 Responses to “Colombia’s Air Force and the paramilitaries”

  1. Kristin Says:

    Any idea when the La Cooperativa bombing occurred?

  2. Robert Says:

    There is an error in your translation. It’s a contextual error. This wasn’t a fight with the guerrillas; it was a fight with the Buitragos, a family of local warlords who were part of the AUC. Miguel Arroyave decided to go to war with the Buitragos in order to take over their territory and, especially, their drug-trafficking routes. It’s all right there in the book if you read it…

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