“Laoficina (ODC),” as the syndicate of gangs called itself, wrote Santos that “this is the moment in history and because of this we aspire to decidedly support the end of the conflict and the construction of peace that will be truly definite.”
The Oficina’s ally, the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), has also repeatedly called to be included in Colombia’s present peace process, claiming their demobilization under former President Alvaro Uribe “failed.”
Santos has yet to respond to the calls made by the former AUC members who want a second chance to demobilize their groups that are accused of being the primary human rights violators in Colombia, in some cases in collusion with the security forces.
Officially, the government considers that the paramilitaries had their chance to demobilize under Uribe, but the former AUC members say they were “betrayed” by the former president to protect the interests of their political patrons.
Uribe extradited the AUC leadership to the United States in 2008 just when it was testifying against the then-president’s cousin, former Senator Mario Uribe.
The former president’s was subsequently sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for using the paramilitaries for his own political gain while Uribe’s brother is in jail for forming his own paramilitary group in the early 1990s.
The extradition of the AUC’s most important leaders and the “death” of 2,200 of the group’s former members following their demobilization spurred former AUC members to rearm and form groups like the AGC and ERPAC, now called the Libertadores de Vichada.
The Oficina was never a member of the AUC, but was led by “Don Berna,” one of the founding members of the AUC, and intertwined with Berna’s AUC member group “Bloque Cacique Nutibara” (BCN).
The syndicate of gangs is currently lord and master over Medellin’s underworld and alleged to have ties to members of the city’s police, and political and economic elite, some of whom already are under legal pressure over its alleged support for the paramilitaries.