The former Medellin Cartel associate claims he demobilized 31,671 paramilitaries between 2003 and 2006, but he did not.
Uribe “facilitated the doubling of the actual number of fighters” taking part in a demobilization process he almost completely screwed up, according to the National Center for Historical Memory.
The hoax of President Ivan Duque’s boss has been confirmed by multiple former AUC commanders, convicted former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt and former US Ambassador William Wood.
Uribe’s promises of impunity
Getting rid of a terrorist organization was a lot more difficult than creating one, Uribe soon found out.
Immediately after taking office, the former president vowed the paramilitaries they would not have to appear before justice and even secured they could enter Congress.
What Uribe forgot was that the AUC had committed hundreds of massacres and Colombia has a Congress and courts, who forced him to design a demobilization process that would include justice for the paramilitaries’ victims.
US Ambassador William Wood had to remind Uribe that Washington was not going to accept any demobilization process that ignored the paramilitaries’ millions of victims.
Wood wrote the State Department in February 2004 that he was told by the Peace Commissioner’s Office that some 20,000 AUC members would demobilize, a number he did not believe.
The Peace Commissioner’s Office estimates that the cost of demobilizing and reintegrating approximately 20,000 paramilitaries — a number provided to the Office by the paramilitaries themselves — between now and 2006 would be approximately USD 171 million. (Note: Restrepo’s estimate includes what the AUC describes as its support network. The Embassy believes a more realistic estimate of AUC fighters is 13,000. End Note.)
US Ambassador William Wood
Uribe tied to yet another massacre, despite extermination of paramilitary group he allegedly founded
Uribe’s impunity plan falls apart
The US ambassador warned Washington in February 2004 that the Colombian government (GOC) “needs to overcome shortfalls in its long-term planning” for a successful demobilization process, according to the leaked cable.
The former Medellin Cartel thought he could ignore the US government and began demobilizing anyway.
Wood wrote on April 25, 2005 that “almost 5,000” AUC members had demobilized, but that “no new demobilization are scheduled” before the end of Uribe’s term in August last year.
Many of the remaining AUC groups are led by commanders heavily involved in drug trafficking who have been reluctant to demobilize. Nevertheless, the GOC continues to say it will demobilize all of the remaining 15,000 AUC members before the end of Uribe’s term.
US Ambassador William Wood
The Constitutional Court demanded legislation, which made narcos who had bought their way into the demobilization process reluctant, Wood wrote Washington DC
Politicians and businessmen who had bought property stolen by the paramilitaries were also getting nervous, the architect of Uribe’s failing impunity plan, former Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran, allegedly told the US ambassador.
Iguaran said third party possession of such assets would be difficult to unravel unless the third parties were pardoned, otherwise they would resist disclosure for fear of being prosecuted for money laundering.
The fraud of the century
The demobilization processes resumed in June 2005 after Congress approved the so-called Justice and Peace law formalizing the AUC’s demobilization and Uribe’s interior minister successfully bribed Congress to change the constitution, allowing Uribe a bid for four more years in 2006.
In the March 2006 congressional elections, AUC allies obtained more than 35% of the votes, according to demobilized commanders Ernesto Baez and Salvatore Mancuso.
Weeks before Uribe’s landslide election in May that year, Wood reported that an astonishing 30,902 members had demobilized.
According to multiple former AUC commanders and drug traffickers taking part in the demobilization hoax, they had made a deal with fugitive former Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo and were reporting pretty much anyone as a member of the AUC.
In the demobilization of the Heroes of Tolova Bloc, the motorcycle taxi drivers from Valencia, Cordoba and even domestic servants were presented as paramilitaries.
El Tuso Sierra
Uribe’s corruption of democracy quickly discovered
The demobilized paramilitaries and narcos actively supported Uribe’s reelection bid and the former president gladly used the fraud to cover-up his scheme in the election campaign.
One month after the elections, the chief observer of the Organization of American States, Sergio Caramanga, told Wood the demobilization processes had been a fraud and that mid-level commanders had formed 22 new paramilitary groups, according the leaked cable.
Then-Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told the ambassador that he “perceived government willingness to combat these gangs but it has not been enough,” according to the US ambassador.
On the record, however, Uribe and his ministers insisted “there are no more paramilitary groups in Colombia,” which nobody believed until Wood was replaced by William Brownfield, the narcos’ wet dream.
William Brownfield: the narcos’ wet dream
Brownfield didn’t seem to care about Uribe family’s ties to the paramilitaries and their predecessors, the Medellin Cartel, as long as they weren’t leftists.
Congressman Rodrigo Lara, whose father was assassinated by late drug lord Pablo Escobar, warned Brownfield “a much more subtle Medellin Cartel is the true ‘power behind the throne’ of the Uribe administration” in 2009.
This was “far-fetched,” Brownfield told his superiors while he was hanging with Escobar’s cousin.
The former ambassador’s intimacy with the former cartel associates reached an all-time low in early 2010 when former President George W. Bush made Uribe the first and only former Medellin Cartel associate to be granted a “Medal of Freedom,” America’s highest honor.
The former ambassador was called back to Washington three days after Uribe left office in August 2010, ironically to be appointed International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs chief by former President Barack Obama.
By the time Brownfield retired in 2017, Colombia’s cocaine production had almost tripled and Uribe was preparing his return to power. Meanwhile, Colombia’s paramilitary groups were sowing terror like nothing ever happened.