Liberal Party member Guillermo Rivera has launched a stinging attack on former President Alvaro Uribe‘s administration, labelling Colombia’s neo-paramilitary groups as his “legacy” and stating that the children of ex-paramilitaries now lead the new gangs.
In a speech to the House of Representatives, Rivera used the example of “Los Paisas” boss Ovidio Isaza Gomez, alias “Roque,” who is the son of former paramilitary commander-in-chief Ramon Isaza, as a prime example of children of ex-paramilitaries moving on to form new gangs, Semana reports.
Rivera further added how the evolution of neo-paramilitary groups stemmed from the failures of the “inflated” demobilization process, which was officially completed in August 2006.
The Liberal politician explained that all branches of justice agree that Vicente Castaño, the former AUC leader, was the “mastermind” behind the criminal organizations created following the demobilization process. Now-disappeared and presumed dead, he is believed to have initially been the leader of the loosely affiliated “Aguilas Negras” gang.
According to Rivera, the lines between former paramilitaries and current neo-paramilitaries are further blurred by events such as William Varela, leader of the drug trafficking group “Los Rastrojos,” buying out 400 demobilized members of the Central Bolivar Bloc in order to expand his gang.
Many of the neo-paramilitary groups, which the government has named BACRIM (emerging criminal groups) so as to avoid direct reference to paramilitaries, are led by former paramilitary middle-managers who were excluded from the 2005 Justice and Peace Law (JPL) and so never demobilized.
The Liberal politician’s namesake, Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera, yesterday sought to demarcate the difference between former and current armed groups by calling for BACRIM to be denied political status, in contrast to the status awarded to the demobilizing paramilitaries under the JPL.