Ernesto Yamhure is a mysterious publisher who used his column in newspaper El Espectador and Caracol Radio to help a late paramilitary leader manipulate the US government over pending drug trafficking charges.
While journalists like Vicky Davila and Virginia Vallejo ended up associated with the mafia blinded by love, Yamhure’s far-right ideology appeared to have blurred his loyalty to the rule of law.
“They traffic in illicit drugs”
“They traffic in illicit drugs, for which a large part of the leadership of this terrorist group has been convicted and requested for extradition,” the pundit wrote about the now-demobilized FARC guerrilla group in 2007.
Yamhure was right. The US designated the FARC a terrorist group in 1997 and indicted its leaders on drug trafficking charges in November 2002, weeks after indicting Carlos Castaño, the founder of paramilitary organization AUC.
Six weeks after the paramilitary leader’s indictment, Castaño asked his “friend” at El Espectador to include “his abandoning of any participation in drug trafficking activities” in a column “since that is what the United States expects,” according to emails revealed in 2011.
“Not the anti-FARC freedom fighters”
Yamhure went up in smoke after finding out the prosecution was investigating his ties to Castaño and the AUC, who were indicted “not as the anti-FARC freedom fighters they claim to be, but as criminals and violent drug traffickers,” as former US Attorney General John Ashcroft put it in 2002.
The pundit hasn’t returned to Colombia since and for a good reason; the mouthpiece of the designated terrorist wanted for trafficking 17 tons of cocaine failed to appear at four hearings that were part of a criminal investigation, newspaper El Tiempo reported in 2012, and could get arrested as soon as he sets foot in Bogota.
Yamhure announced he would continue to take part in Colombia’s political debate “from exile” after his defense attorney claimed the US government had granted his client political asylum in 2013.
Miami and the Medellin Cartel
Weeks later, the former columnist joined the cousin of late drug lord Pablo Escobar, Senator Jose Obdulio Gaviria, to open the Miami office of the Democratic Center, the newly founded party of former President Alvaro Uribe, another former Medellin Cartel associate.
Yamhure’s contributions to the political debate only resulted in more criminal charges, especially after the pundit called renowned journalist Cecilia Orozco — oh irony — a narcojournalist.
In 2016, Yamhure founded “Los Irreverentes,” a website mainly for fellow-former mafia associates with political opinions.
The website became an instant flop, but at least allows Yamhure to tell the Internal Revenue Service he has a legal income.