EL ESPECTADOR, May 31, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The Attorney General’s Office has confirmed the criminal charge against Drummond’s directors for possibly financing the now-defunct paramilitary groups in Cesar Department. They will have to respond to the charge of criminal conspiracy.
The president and the former president of Drummond, the multinational mining company, José Miguel Linares Martínez and Augusto Jiménez Mejía, will be charged with criminal conspiracy for having allegedly promoted and financed the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in Cesar Department at the end of the ‘90’s. The Attorney General’s Office confirmed the charges this Wednesday.
The investigators state that they have abundant and sufficient evidence of the directors’ alleged responsibility for financing the AUC, an action that has been declared a crime against humanity. The prosecutor in the case has established that Linares Martínez and Jiménez Mejía, between 1996 and 2001, had increased the total value of a contract with a company that provided meals for the mining workers, and that the additional funds would be used for the illegal payments directed to the Juan Andrés Álvarez Front of the paramilitary group’s Northern Bloc.
According to the information from the Attorney General’s Office, a Drummond affiliate in Colombia was aided by the Juan Andrés Álvarez Front of AUC’s Northern Bloc. The criminals allegedly received financing to help them take control of municipalities in Cesar like El Paso, Becerril, Chiriguaná La Jagüa Ibirico, and Agustín Codazzi. The high-ranking officials of the company, according to the theory of the authorities, contacted the armed group asking it to provide them with “security” because the paramilitaries were coming in and were present right by the mines, as well as by the railway they used to transport the coal to the respective ports.
In a related event, the Definition of Legal Situations Branch of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in 2021 admitted the business owner and cattle rancher Jaime Blanco Maya. Blanco Maya, the half-brother of Colombia’s former Comptroller Edgardo Maya, and Ángel El Kiri Maya, (convicted of having connections with the paramilitaries and later murdered) committed himself before the JEP to reveal details of one of the most controversial and least investigated chapters in Colombia’s conflict: the alleged financing of illegal armed groups by large companies.
Although the plan presented to the JEP doesn’t give many details, the clue that does exist is that the prosecutors have said that Blanco Maya had a close relationship with the Northern Bloc of the AUC, commanded by Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, known as “Jorge 40”, a rancher from Valledupar who has been in prison in the United States since 2008 for drug trafficking. During his trial, the investigators said that the business owner, Maya, ordered the murder of the labor leaders who had led a strike at Drummond for the purpose of forcing them to change the contractor who provided food to the mine workers, Food and Services Industry, owned by Blanco Maya.
In April of that year, the former paramilitary Jairo de Jesús Charris Castro, sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide, told the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) that Augusto Jiménez Mejía, President of the coal mining multinational Drummond, between 1989 and 2019, knew about the murders the paramilitaries had carried out against the labor leaders at the mining company. At present, the legal action in the criminal branch of the ordinary justice system is continuing to examine the provisions set forth in Statute 600 of 2000 as applied in this situation.