(Monday, February 14)


(Translated by Leo H. Torres, a CSN volunteer translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CNS volunteer editor.)

Gil admitted that he met twice with 'Ernesto Báez'

Para-politics – Santanderes

Former Senator from Santander agreed during the start of his trial for 'para-politics' that he met twice with 'Ernesto Báez', one of the leaders of the paramilitary Central Bolívar Bloc, but he denied it was to benefit electorally.

The trial against Luis Alberto Gil Castillo, who is investigated for para-politics, is believed to end in mid-2011. Picture on


        Prosecutor called for a trial of former congressmen and Riaño Gil.

        Attorney General’s Office issued a statement of objections against Hugo Aguilar and former congressmen from Santander.

        "Diego Vecino ',' Baez 'and' Julián Bolívar 'declare at trial of former congressmen and Gil Riaño.

        "The new “paras” airings. (Semana)

        "Reviving the para-politics.


During the first day of trial before the Supreme Court, former Senator Luis Alberto Gil Castillo agreed that, in late December 2001 and January 2002, met with Ivan Roberto Duque, alias Ernesto Báez ', one of the leaders of the paramilitary Central Bolívar bloc. But he said that the meeting was due only to ensure that he was not in danger, since he had been a member of M-19.


After the Court called him for questioning for alleged links with paramilitaries on October 11, 2007, the statement is part of the records trial. That day, Gil resigned from his position as senator of Convergencia Ciudadana movement, and is being held in jail La Picota, from November 24, 2008.

The Chamber of Criminal Appeal and the Attorney General asked him about his meetings with the paramilitaries and the possible connection with the amount of votes obtained by Convergencia Ciudadana:


Luis Alberto Gil acknowledged that the first meeting with 'Baez' was in Medellin in mid-December 2001. As he explained, was the Antioquia’s deputy Leonardo Zapata who pick him up at the airport and took to the place where they met with the paramilitary leader, first in an apartment located near the mall El Tesoro and then at a restaurant on Las Palmas road. "I met Leonardo Zapata through union leader Carlos Higuera," he said.

Higuera went on to serve as senator for the period of 2002-2006. He was the second line on the list after Carlos Clavijo, who resigned the seat after the Justice has opened an investigation for alleged links with 'Baez'; then, in September 2008, the Office also issued a security measure for the same reason, but then acquitted him. Gil said he met Higuera in a meeting that made the Chamber of Commerce of Bucaramanga in the first half of 2001, when ranchers and farmers of Santander and Middle Magdalena called on the Government to reject the proposal of Andres Pastrana, in set up a demilitarized zone in southern Bolivar to peace talks with the ELN.


Gil said the second meeting with 'Ernesto Báez' was in January 2002 in Puerto Berrio, Antioquia. "I traveled with the deputy of Barrancabermeja Luis Francisco Guarín to that meeting, which was also programmed by Leonardo Zapata. That was at noon, about 10 minutes from town, and I remember it was in a mansion. Barrancabermeja councilors were gathered from early morning with 'Ernesto Báez'. "

According to Gil, "the meetings were arranged by them (paramilitaries) and I went to see if I could run as senator, because I was labeled as belonging to the left.
The meeting was to discuss security. I knew that Baez was talking with council members to form a list (to Congress) by the Regional Alternative Movement (MAR), but I knew by the councilors that they did not accept it," he said.

Former Senator from Santander said he met at least five times with the councilors of Barrancabermeja to reach a possible agreement between Convergencia and the MAR in the bid to the election. "They wanted to lead the list to the Senate but we did not reach an agreement because that year was operating the preferential voting act. It was when they postulated Juan Martin Caicedo as chief candidate for Senate," said Gil. On
this time the MAR postulated Ruben Dario Sanchez to run for the House.

The Lists


When a judge asked Gil if meetings with paramilitaries influenced the shaping for the lists to Congress in 2002, the former politician denied that the paramilitaries had influenced the formation of the lists, saying that the dates of the meetings with 'Baez' do not match with the dates of the meetings for the selection of candidates.

Luis Alberto Gil Castillo was accompanied at the hearing by his friend, former Congressman Alfonso Riaño, who was investigated for para-politics.


According to the story of Gil, in July 2001, the movement stated that he would head the list of Convergence to the Senate and to the House would do the journalists Juan Manuel González and José Manuel Herrera Cely. However, by August 2001 the movement decided that Juan Manuel Gonzalez would be the second line of Gil and the list of House would be presided over by Herrera Cely.

Finally, Convergencia formed two lists to the House: one, whose first line was Herrera Cely, followed by the candidates, Nelson Naranjo and Rafael Castillo, who were appointed by Barrancabermeja’s  Congressman Luis Francisco Guarín, and Alexander Ariza, who was appointed by Rep. Alfonso Riaño. The other list was led by Jaime Duran Barrera, who resigned from the Assembly of Santander to run for the House. According to Gil, the lists were backed by House Members Guarín, Riaño, Duran, as well as Hugo Heliodoro Aguilar and Jose Nelson Franco, and not for 'Ernesto Báez', as argued by the prosecution. Therefore, the Court cited a 'Baez' to testify in the trial of Santander’s leader. 


According to data from the Registry, Luis Alberto Gil was elected in 2002 as a senator with 82,053 votes, being a novice in their quest to Congress. His previous position was as a deputy of Santander; he   was elected in 1997 with 17,764 votes. For the period 2002-2006, Convergencia got to elect his two chief candidates as Representatives: Durán with 34,495, and Herrera Cely with 36,006 votes, who resigned from his seat by para-politics investigations, opening the space to next members on the list.

In 2006, Convergencia reached more seats: Gil kept the Senate with 73,742 votes, accompanied by Oscar Josué Reyes Cárdenas, with 55,556 votes. In the House for Santander, Alfonso Riaño with 52,678 votes, José Manuel Herrera Cely with 25,369 and Edgar Gómez Román (former chairman of the House and liberal activist) with 19,126 votes.


When the Criminal Chamber of the Court asked if he held a third meeting with the paramilitaries, this time at the Hotel Chicamocha of Bucaramanga, in March 2006, Gil refused. "That is false. I was deprived of the right to campaign in the region, in January 2006," he said.

Then, a judge asked him whether he received 1,000 million pesos from Rodrigo Pérez Alzate alias 'Julián Bolívar', another paramilitary leader of the Central Bolívar Bloc. "There is no logic that in 2006 I was asking about a man who I did not know and did not stop campaigning. Why did they fund my campaign with illegal funds? I hope the witness who said that is able to sustain such infamy,” replied the defendant.


The 'key' of power:


In his narration, Luis Alberto Gil said that in 2003 the candidacy of Hugo Heliodoro Aguilar (also under investigation for para-politics) was due to a breakdown of traditional liberalism in Santander. "For 2002, Convergencia had a seat in the Senate and two in the House and, therefore, Aguilar decided he would go for the Provincial Government. At that time, Juana Yolanda Bazan and Jorge Gómez Jorge Celis separated from Villamizar Gómez and joined Hugo Aguilar. The liberal crisis eliminated his own candidacy and therefore supported Aguilar Convergence," he said.

Gil said that this also explains why the "attacks" that they received from liberal chiefs, including former Senator Hugo Serrano. “After being the best friends of Hugo Serrano for the elections of 2002, we became enemies to be competitive.
The chiefs did not support the beginning of a new way of thinking.”

Although the Criminal Division has not yet set a new date to continue the trial, the defense of Gil felt that the process will continue until mid-2011. "I was one of the other 'shore'. I was not going to risk my life, but I do not denounce these meetings because there was no security. The state was indexed in this criminal action, "with these words Gil tried to reverse the argument he made alliances with paramilitaries, and instead, tried to fend off these and their alliance with the state.


Gil Castillo and his wife Doris Clemencia Vega, who in last elections for Congress, aspired to get a seat but did not reach it. (Picture 

Who is Luis Alberto Gil Castillo?

He was born in Cite, district of Barbosa (Santander), into a peasant family. He grew in Piedecuesta where very young began to be recognized as one of the leaders of the teachers’ group. He studied chemistry at the Universidad Industrial de Santander and was a member of the M-19 as urban guerrilla to the northeast Colombia. Just graduated as a professional, the 'Eme' sent him to Omar Khadafy’s Libya where he was trained for six months in political-military action. Upon his return, he continued connected to teachers’ group, which he was president and where he met his wife, Doris Clemencia Vega. After the demobilization of 'Em', Gil took to politics and was elected deputy of Santander in 1992 and 1997.

On February 25, 1997 in Bucaramanga, according to the act of creation, Gil Castillo and 26 other members founded the Convergencia Ciudadana movement, which in the congressional elections of 2010 and as a strategy for the bad image to have several members under investigation for para-politics, renamed the group as Partido de Integracion Nacional, PIN. For this group, his wife tried to get a seat for the Senate but failed. Instead, Nerthink Mauricio Aguilar got a seat in the Senate, and Didier Tavera in the Chamber, who was a son and former Secretary of Government, respectively, of the former Governor Hugo Heliodoro Aguilar.


From November 24, 2008, Gil Castillo, known as the 'Eye Gil', is being held in jail La Picota in Bogota, after the Court called him for questioning in the midst of the para-politics scandal.



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