Parapolitics [i.e., the paramilitaries in the political life of the country—SC]

“El Alemán” links Santiago Uribe Vélez (brother of the ex-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez)
with the “Casa Castaño”
(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN
Volunteer Editor. )
Thursday, March 17, 2011
What the ex-paramilitary leader points out is added to what has been indicated by the ex-
members of the AUC [Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, “United Self-defense units of
Colombia, “the paramilitaries”—SC] like Juan Carlos Sierra (aka “El Tuso Sierra”) and
Francisco Villalba Hernández, as well as what has been summarized by the ex-officer of
the National Police, Juan Carlos Meneses Quintero.
A new scandal arose in the Justice and Peace tribunals [Justice and Peace is the
controversial legal structure for reintegrating demobilized paramilitaries and guerrillas—
SC] because of the story told by the ex-paramilitary leader Fredy Rendón Herrera,
aka “El Alemán” [“The German”—SC]. This time, the former paramilitary leader said
that Santiago Uribe, brother of the ex-president Álvaro Uribe, had a close relationship
with the so-called “Casa Castaño” [“Castaño House”—SC], the nucleus of the
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).
The declarations by the ex-commander of the Elmer Cárdenas Bloc [i.e., Rendón—
SC] were made this Thursday in the tribunal of Justice and Peace in Bogotá, where in
previous weeks he had made explosive declarations against the demobilization process of
the Cacique Nutibara Bloc of the AUC in Medellín.
The Uribe Vélez Family:
This time, he referred to the Uribe Vélez family. According to Rendón Herrera, “the
brothers of the ex-president Uribe are not sons of Mother Theresa.” To support his
assertion, “El Alemán” insisted that Santiago Uribe was the person who connected the
banana planter Raúl Hasbún Mendoza with Vicente Castaño. “If you ask Hasbún, who is
a banana man of the highest class, he will say that the brother of Álvaro Uribe introduced
him to Vicente Castaño in a house in El Poblado [an upper-class barrio of Medellín—
SC],” affirmed the ex-paramilitary.
If what “El Aleman” said is true, the introduction that he referred to would have
happened in the middle of the decade of the nineties, since Hasbún Mendoza, who is
known by the aliases of “Pedro Ponte” and “Pedro Bonito,” has stated in his personal
statements before prosecutors of the Justice and Peace Unit that he started to have contact
with the brothers Vicente and Carlos Castaño at the end of 1994 and early 1995: “In the
beginning, it was a relationship of friendship, not of subordination in the work. I began to
have a place in the structures of the Autodefensas Campesinas [Rural Self-defense—SC]
of Córdoba and Urubá in the year of 1996.”
The accusation made by “El Alemán” can be added to a series of accusations that have
been made for several years now against the cattleman Santiago Uribe Vélez. The most
recent was by Juan Carlos Sierra, whose alias was “El Tuso Sierra,” a drug trafficker and
paramilitary extradited to the United States en May of 2008 together with 13 leaders of
the AUC.
Before the Supreme Court:
Before investigators of the Supreme Court, Sierra asserted that Santiago Uribe had drug
trafficking business with the brothers Santiago and Pedro Gallón Henao, the former
tried and convicted of financing paramilitary groups. “You know that [trafficking] trips
were controlled. Nobody took a “tour” who was not paying taxes to the guerrillas or
the self-defense groups. In the area of “El Alemán,” the “tours” of the Gallón brothers
were the priority. When they took out their boats and ships, the people would become
nervous because they said they would turn in those that were not theirs in order to take
theirs away.” And he added, “Everyone knew that “El Alemán” and Santiago Uribe were
included in the “tours” of the Gallón brothers. There was a relationship with “El Alemán”
and the Gallón brothers.”
Another accusation became known in May of last year, when Juan Carlos Meneses
Quintero, a retired major of the National Police, accused him of having created a
paramilitary structure known as “the twelve apostles,” in the sub-region of Northern
Antioquia, where the Uribe Veléz family owns great extensions of land.
Meneses Quintero recounted the story in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before a group of
representatives of international organizations that monitor human rights violations in
Colombia, among whom was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
The ex-officer narrated how in 1993 he was promoted to lieutenant of the National Police
and named commander of the Police District 7 of Antioquia, with headquarters in the
municipality of Yarumal: “I got the command of the then captain, today retired colonel,
Pedro Manuel Benavides. He received me and said to me: “Look, Meneses, there is a
special situation here, here there is a group of persons that caries out cleansing, that is
social cleansing; that is, they disappear persons identified as guerrillas, as thieves, as
kidnappers, extortionists, or just drug sellers or drug users. The only thing you have to
do is, when this group goes to do a task, you have to cooperate with them. The group
has a leader who is called Santiago Uribe Vélez, who is the brother of the (then) senator
Álvaro Uribe. He is a cattleman from the area and he owns the hacienda near Yarumal,
the hacienda La Carolina.”
The Massacre of El Aro:
To these accusations is added that made by the ex-paramilitary Francisco Enrique
Villalba Hernández, the only member of the AUC who was tried for the massacre
perpetrated between the 25th and 28th of October of 1997 in the rural community of
El Aro, in the municipality of Ituango in Northern Antioquia, where 15 peasants were
murdered, in the period in which Álvaro Uribe Vélez was serving as Governor of
Testimony that Villalba Hernández gave before the Interamerican Court of Human
Rights, and reproduced in the newspaper El Nuevo Heraldo in April of 2008, contains
allusions to the Uribe Vélez brothers. “Álvaro Uribe told us that whatever needed to be
done, that we should do it,” declared Villalba in describing a meeting to prepare for the
incursion into the settlement, in which supposedly leaders of the AUC, soldiers and the
brothers Álvaro and Santiago Uribe participated.
Villalba Herneandez was murdered on April 23 of 2009 near his place of residence in the
municipality of La Estrella, in the southern part of the Aburrá Valley [the valley in which
Medellín is located—SC] ten days after leaving prison under probation.
Santiago Uribe Vélez (brother of the ex-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez):
All these accusations have been rejected by both Santiago Uribe Vélez and his brother,
the ex-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Time and again they have declared that they are
innocent of these accusations.
With respect to the declarations of “El Alemán,” the lawyer Jaime Granados, who
represents the interests of the Uribe Vélez brothers, announced that he will accuse the ex-
paramilitary of false testimony, and further will ask that he be excluded from the benefits
granted by the Law Justice and Peace, since the affirmations against the brother of the ex-
president are false, which would suppose a violation of the principle of truth that the law
A source close to Rendón Herrera, who asked that his name be withheld, asserted that
he believes what was said by the ex paramilitary would not be made up, “among other
reasons,” he said,” because with them, he does not receive any additional benefits; on the
contrary they could prejudice him.”
This person called attention to this new episode against Santiago Uribe Vélez and the
reaction of the lawyer, Granados: “one way to disqualify these people within the process
is, when they touch certain powers in the country, well how can we believe a criminal?
But notice that with the lies, in quotes, that Fredy Rendón Herrera has said, there are
around 25 politicians, among them several members of congress, under arrest, some of
them have been summoned to trial, others have taken advantage of a plea agreement and
some have already been convicted.”
Among the members of congress who had links to “El Alemán,” and who have been
tried by the Supreme Court are Antonio Valencia, de Alas Equipo Colombia [a former
conservative political party that was a member of Álvaro Uribe’s coalition—SC] y Luis
Humberto Builes, of Cambio Radical [“Radical Change,” an important conservative
party, and one of the bulwarks of the Uribe coalition—SC].
In this sense, the source asserted that the statements according to which “the
paramilitaries are criminals and therefore they cannot be believed, is a story that
Colombians are not prepared to accept, especially because it is used as an argument when
[the accusations} touch certain circles of power.”
About what has been said by the ex-soldier Rendón Herrera, it will be the justice system
that has the last word.
With information from the newspapers El Espectador, El Tiempo and
Nancy Fiallo Araque
Assembly of Women of Civil Society for Peace
Bogotá. DC, Colombia, South America
Campaña Defensores Colombia [Colombia Defenders Campaign]
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