CAMBIOColombia, May 10, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The former paramilitary boss Salvatore Mancuso, in the single hearing for truth before the JEP, affirmed that Francisco “Pacho” Santos requested the creation of the Capital Bloc of paramilitaries.

In the single hearing for the truth, in which Salvatore Mancuso is hoping for his entrance into the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the former paramilitary boss once again tied former Vice President Francisco Santos to the Self-Defense Forces. Mancuso had already talked about that in the Peace and Justice tribunals.


Special Jurisdiction for Peace, May 10, 2023

Replying to JEP-Colombia

“Pedro Juan Moreno helped me create Convivir Horizonte Ltd. With a civil police uniform we staffed checkpoints and Police Intelligence. We would meet every week with the Police command, with the Police Commander and Deputy Commander,” said Mancuso.


Special Jurisdiction for Peace


Mancuso affirmed that the system set up in Córdoba was the one we repeated all over the north. “The people that were being overwhelmed by the guerrillas asked us to create groups of Self-Defense Forces (. . .) Francisco Santos himself solicited the creation of the Capital Bloc.”

Mancuso stated that Jorge Visbal Martelo, who was President of the Colombian Federation of Cattle Ranchers (Fedegan), a former member of Congress and who was convicted of having connections to the paramilitaries, and Francisco Santos, who was the Vice President of then-President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, all asked Salvatore Mancuso to create paramilitary groups in Córdoba and to create the Capital Bloc in Bogotá.

The former paramilitary boss stated that on April 29, 1997, Pacho Santos wrote to the newspaper EL TIEMPO “exalting the work of the Self-Defense Forces in rescuing people who had been kidnapped. That was done between the Convivir, the Infantry, and the Self-Defense Forces.

Francisco Santos came in representation of the trade associations and business owners who were concerned because there were organizations of the FARC in the gutters of Bogotá, and he asked us for the creation of a paramilitary Bloc. That was in 1997, 1998,” Mancuso assured the JEP.

In his testimony, Salvatore Mancuso told about the work of the paramilitary groups with the vigilance cooperatives and private security for agrarian defense, known as Convivir. He also told about their cooperation with the Armed Forces.

Reporters from VerdadAbierta have told how, according to decisions by Justice and Peace, Santos had met twice with Mancuso. The first such meeting took place in Tierralta, Córdoba, together with Carlos Castaño, and the other meeting was on the premises of EL TIEMPO. There the objective was to familiarize the communications media with the paramilitary phenomenon.

During the hearing before the JEP, Mancuso reiterated that there had been several meetings with Pacho Santos.

Mancuso claimed that he had been charged with the creation of the Northern Bloc, and to do that, he went around with official Army identification that had been given to him by the 11th Brigade. He also said, “I had official identification from the civilian police, as well as badge and uniform. We had radios with the exclusive Police frequency, and they made us accompany them at checkpoints.”

He also said that for every guerrilla they killed, the Army would give them a rifle and a license to carry it.

During the hearing, Mancuso insisted that he had a special interest in providing new contributions about what happened in the armed conflict. He also said that there is a truth “that has never yet appeared in any judicial proceeding.” “I am recounting truths that the population has lived through. I can’t shut out the sun with my finger. Like the things that the authorities told us so that we wouldn’t be captured,” said the former paramilitary boss Salvatore Mancuso in the single hearing for the truth before the JEP.

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