A Colombia court has used the sentencing of a former paramilitary warlord to call for the investigation of those with links to CONVIVIR, rural self defense militias that converted into illegal paramilitary groups in the 1990s.
On Wednesday, during the sentencing of Ever Veloza, alias “HH,” the court ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate civilians, businessmen, traders, farmers, banana companies, members of state security agencies, and officials who had links to CONVIVIR or were responsible for monitoring them.
HH was just one of the many AUC figures to emerge from the network of rural security cooperatives legally created by the Colombian national government of Cesar Gaviria in 1994 in response to increased violence from guerrilla groups like the FARC and ELN.
At their peak, there were 529 of these rural security cooperatives spread across 24 Colombian States with a membership of at least 15,000 people.
However, by 1997, the Constitutional Court had banned them for their links to the paramilitary umbrella group AUC and its atrocities.
Among those alleged to have dealings with CONVIVIR is former President Alvaro Uribe. Former commander-in-chief of the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso, is on record claiming that Uribe helped found groups in the central Colombian state of Antioquia when he was governor.
The investigation into Uribe’s connection to paramilitaries – known as ‘parapolitics’ – was shut down in 2000, but re-opened this year after senior members of the former AUC began came forward.
This is a claim that Uribe continues to deny strongly. It is unknown what effect this new call for investigations will have on those already ongoing.
Las Convivir, motor de la guerra paramilitar (Verdad Abierta)