Colombian newspaper El Espectador on Sunday published a list of “suspicious” candidates in March’s Congress elections. The newspaper considers the candidates suspect because of their closeness to the paramilitary power structure.
The Conservative Party, one of Colombia’s biggest political parties, has the highest number of “suspicious” candidates. Ten of the coalition party’s candidates for either the House or the Senate are linked to politicians who are in jail or under investigation for their ties to demobilized paramilitary organization AUC.
Two new parties, Alianza Democratica Nacional (ADN) and Partido de Integracion Nacional (PIN), formed out of the ashes of Uribista parties whose senators joined bigger coalition parties, are also prominently featured on the list as backing suspicious candidates.
Partido de la U, President Alvaro Uribe’s most loyal supporter in Congress, also has seven candidates who are suspiciously close to politicians with links to paramilitaries, or have other links to criminal activity.
One candidate, the independent Ricardo Castro, is cousin of Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40,” one of the AUC’s most feared commanders, who is currently in the US awaiting trial on drug charges.
Most candidates on El Espectador’s list are from the north of Colombia, where the AUC was most powerful.
More than a hundred Colombian politicians on national, departmental and local levels have been or are part of a criminal investigation because of their alleged use of intimidation by paramilitaries to help them gain office in the 2002 and 2006 elections. Dozens have been convicted for paramilitary ties.