EL ESPECTADOR, November 23, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The investigative entity summoned Uribe Vélez after the JEP released the testimony furnished by Salvatore Mancuso in which he accused the former President of being aware of and failing to prevent serious acts of violence in the districts (corregimientos) in his jurisdiction.

The former President, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was summoned by Colombia’s Attorney General to give testimony on this coming November 27. The investigation was undertaken after the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) released the closed hearings in which the former paramilitary boss Salvatore Mancuso connected the then-Governor of Antioquia with foreknowledge of the El Aro massacre in the Municipality of Ituango in 1997.

We should make clear that the Attorney General’s Office has had in its power the investigation that was carried out by the Supreme Court of Justice regarding the massacre at El Aro since 2020, as well as other acts of violence in which the responsibility, by action or omission, of Uribe Vélez has been investigated. Among those was the murder of human rights defender Jesús María Valle in 1998. Valle had alerted authorities of the escalation of paramilitary violence in the region.

Last November 17, on the other hand, the JEP accepted Salvatore Mancuso’s submission as a point of connection between paramilitarism and the Colombian government’s security forces, such as the Police and the Army. To reach that conclusion, the Special Jurisdiction examined the statements that Mancuso had furnished to the ordinary criminal justice system and to the Justice and Peace system, and found different kinds of new information that touched some heavyweights in our recent national history.

Among them is former President Uribe Vélez, about whom, for the first time, there is testimony by Mancuso accusing the then-Governor with having direct knowledge of the massacre that was going to happen in the District of El Aro, according to the JEP. There were 150 paramilitaries that bulldozed into the District, located in Antioquia; they burned down 42 of the 60 houses there, they stole thousands of head of cattle, and, with a list in hand, they tortured and killed 12 people falsely accused of being guerrillas.

Mancuso stated that planning for the crimes was developed by the highest-ranking military officers in Antioquia, including the Generals Alfonso Manosalva and Iván Ramírez Quintero, commanders of the 4th Brigade and the 1st Division of the Colombian Army, respectively. According to Mancuso, General Ramírez, whose submission to the JEP has been rejected, ordered him to organize and coordinate the El Aro operation. The operation, in turn, had been requested by Pedro Juan Moreno, who at the time was the Secretary of Government in the Office of the Governor of Antioquia during the Uribe Vélez administration.

“Pedro Juan Moreno came in the name of Uribe. ‘Uribe and I got together; I met with Colonel Raúl Suárez, the Commander of Police in Córdoba, and he took me to meet with Uribe at Uribe’s ranch (. . .) Uribe was always aware of the El Aro operation.” Even though the text is not clear as to whether Mancuso is referring to what he heard Moreno say, the JEP concluded that, “he’s saying that Uribe Vélez knew all about the operations that were being nailed down at those meetings.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the proceeding in which he will give testimony will be conducted at the request of Uribe Vélez himself. He has asked to be heard formally in the case. “In relation to these cases, the Attorney General’s Office has carried out innumerable investigative activities, and collected abundant evidentiary material, so as to be able to complete a thorough explanation of the events,” stated the investigative agency.

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