Members of paramilitary organization AUC told the U.S. embassy that the 1997 Mapiripan massacre in central Colombia was “well coordinated in advance” with (elements of) the army, according to a released diplomatic cable.
According to the embassy’s anonymous sources, the army provided “travel, logistics, intelligence and security” to the paramilitary who killed dozens of civilians in the five days after their July 15 incursion of the town.
According to the 1999 cable, the sources told the embassy that “Mapiripan was a special case. In reality, it was a well-coordinated counter-narcotics operation.”
“The goal of the operation was to strike ‘a coordinated blow’ against the FARC’s financial lifeline, by targeting the key money-movers who buy and sell cocaine for the FARC. Mapiripan, the first [source] stated was a key FARC ‘business center’. The second man chimed in that the operation had been a clear ‘success’ in damaging the FARC’s ability to move both money and cocaine in the region,” said the embassy.
"If one is to believe their blunt admission of AUC / Army coordination re
Mapiripan, as well as the separate private statements by a senior AUC
paramilitary leader involved in AUC's October 1997 incursion of Miraflores,
then both of the key paramilitary operations which most directly affected
U.S.-assisted counter-narcotics operations in the Guaviare region in 1997
had been conducted with the foreknowledge and facilitation by members of
Without giving names, the collaboration between the army and AUC went “well beyond” the cooperation of army and paramilitary units, the sources told the embassy official.
Three military officials, including the lieutenant-colonel, who, according to the embassy, was the whistle-blower in the case, have since been convicted for their role in the massacre.
The massacre continues to cause controversy in Colombia fifteen years after taking place. While a paramilitary commander was convicted for the murder of 77 people in the massacre, the country’s prosecutor general claimed last year only ten people were killed after one person came forward claiming she falsely claimed three of her family members had been killed during the paramilitary incursion.
The identification of the victims has been complicated as the paramilitaries cut up the majority of their remains and threw them in a nearby river.