Colombia’s former vice President Francisco Santos met with top commanders of far-right paramilitary organization AUC on several occasions, three of the now-demobilized AUC’s former commanders said in a recorded private conversation.
The two-hour conversation between Salvatore Mancuso, “El Aleman” and “Jorge 40,” parts of which were broadcast by Caracol Radio on Tuesday, was recorded by one of the paramilitaries before their extradition to the United States in May 2008 and before their computers mysteriously disappeared from their Colombian prisons.
In the recording, El Aleman talked about Santos’ first meeting with Mancuso in 1997 during which the politician allegedly asked about the paramilitaries’ progress in constructing paramilitary groups in the capital Bogota and the surrounding department of Cundinamarca.
Santos, who a year before had founded the anti-kidnapping NGO “Pais Libre,” allegedly asked Mancuso to not disappear homicide victims to not cause problems for his NGO.
According to the paramilitaries, the former vice president, former editor-in-chief of newspaper El Tiempo and former editor of RCN Radio also met with AUC founder Carlos Castaño.
Santos, a second cousin of current President Juan Manuel Santos, was Alvaro Uribe’s VP between 2002 and 2010 and one of hundreds of Uribe allies and family members in legal trouble over their alleged or proven ties with the paramilitary group that was determined a terrorist organization by the U.S. until its official demobilization in 2006.
The recording confirms testimonies made by Mancuso who told Colombian prosecutors that Santos had met with paramilitaries about the formation of a “Capital Bloc” in Bogota.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office is officially investigating the former vice president for his alleged ties to the AUC.