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Álvaro Uribe Velez is Governor of the important Department of Antioquia. Unfortunately, the evidence is growing that he has not been using his power to assist efforts for non-violence, peace, and reconciliation in the troubled region of Urabá. For a period of time he has supported the so-called Self-Defense Cooperatives ("Convivir") that operate in association with paramilitary bands of gunmen who have been destablizing the region.
In late 1996-early 1997 the Colombian magazine Alternativa carried an article on his suppport of the "Convivir" groups, and we will provide that article/link soon.
The Northwestern region of Colombia is a region slated for multi- billion dollar development in the next decades. Powerful forces in Antioquia obviously desire to seize a lion's share of the property--and wealth, and the Convivirs appear a likely tool to destabilize the region that used to be frontier and ignored by both Department and National government. A high speed railroad, the finalization of the Pan American Highway, a new trans- oceanic canal to parallel the Panama Canal -- all are in the works (see CSN articles on Plan Pacifico). We cannot see inside the Governor's mind, but one must conclude that wealthy business forces have his ear and give tacit if not overt support to the destabilization of Urabá.
Currently, Apartadó Mayor Gloria Cuartas is engaged in a dialogue with Governor Uribe Velez over the Convivirs in Urabá.