Senator-elect recants statements linking union leaders to FARC

(Photo: El Universal)

A cousin of the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, and Colombia Senator-elect on Thursday publicly retracted statements where he alleged links between several union groups and the FARC, Colombia’s largest armed rebel group.

Senator-elect Jose Obdulio Gaviria publicly recanted statements he wrote in an opinion column in 2007 which alleged that three union groups from the southwestern city of Cali had links to the FARC – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – the oldest rebel group in Colombia.

Obdulio, a member of former-President Alvaro Uribe‘s Democratic Center party also publicly asked forgiveness from the unions Sintraemcali, Sintratelefonos and Sintraunicol for his 2007 false accusations, offering his “sincerest apologies” and begging a “humble pardon.”

Obdulio is currently under investigation for the defamation of the three trade unions, reported El Espectador. His legal team has argued that his apologies merit a dropping of charges against him.

According to El Espectador union leaders seem to be satisfied with the public retraction. A representative for Sintraemcali Jorge Ivan Velez allegedly said he was satisfied with the apology and public retraction from Obdulio, reported El Tiempo.

Velez reportedly said that Obdulio had “rectified the good name of three very important organizations to the country.”

Obdulio was a former presidential advisor to Uribe and is a cousin of perhaps the world’s most notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar Gaviria.

Uribe’s announcement that Obdulio would be a congressional candidate for the Center Democratic party last September garnered harsh criticism from both right and left wing politicians. Liberal Senator Juan Manuel Galan said Obdulio’s inclusion as a candidate for the Democratic Center was a “slap in the face” to all the victims of Escobar during the 1980s and early 1990s. Galan’s father was murdered by an Escobar assassin during his presidential run in 1989.

MORE: Colombia Liberal senator compares Uribe aide to Nazi propaganda leader

Oscar Zulaga, the presidential candidate for Obdulio’s own Democratic Center party, even campaigned his removal following Obdulio’s reference to political opponents as “enemies” and an attack on former Colombian President Andres Pastrana‘s brother after he posted a picture of Pablo Escobar with Obdulio on social media.

MORE: Uribe aide joins list calling for Obdulio to leave Senate race

Obdulio was elected a Colombian senator during congressional elections in March 2014.


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