The extradited leader of the now-defunct AUC, insisted Thursday that the paramilitary organization supported the 2002 election campaign of former President Alvaro Uribe in coordination with the politician’s campaign team.
While testifying from the United States before Colombian prosecutors, Salvatore Mancuso said he met with several members of the Uribe campaign to coordinate paramilitary support for the campaign.
According to the former paramilitary leader, the AUC provided transport to voters in the northern Cordoba department on election day and helped distributing t-shirts and other promotion material in the period leading up to election day.
Despite repeatedly being asked to, the extradited paramilitary refused to give the names of the campaign managers he allegedly met, claiming that Colombian authorities are not sufficiently protecting Mancuso’s family.
The former AUC head, who between 2003 and 2006 led his organization’s demobilization in coordination with the Uribe administration, has testified on several occasions that the paramilitaries supported Uribe’s first campaign. These accusations have been supported by other paramilitary commanders.
Uribe has categorically denied having received paramilitary support and has claimed the AUC commanders are conspiring to revenge their extradition to the U.S.
The 2002 and 2006 elections are among the most controversial in Colombian history; Thirty eight former congressmen have been sentenced and 140 are under investigation for having used paramilitary support to get elected into Congress.