Paramilitaries in the north of Colombia actively promoted the candidacy of Alvaro Uribe for the 2002-2006 presidency, the leader of the local Jesuits said Thursday.
According to father Francisco de Roux he was personally approached by the now extradited top-paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso with the advise to vote for the former president.
The clergy added that he doesn’t think Uribe had links to paramilitary organization AUC.
“I went to talk to Mancuso so he would leave the people in the [Magdalena medio] region in peace and he asked me how I thought to vote for in the presidential elections. I responded that I didn’t know and he told me I should vote for Uribe, because he was the best option,” De Roux told a court while testifying against former Senator Luis Alberto Gil, one of Uribe former supporters in Congress, who is now on trial for his alleged ties to the paramilitaries.
“I don’t think (Uribe) would have agreed, but what is certain is that the paramilitaries in Magdalena medio were Uribe supporters and exercised pressure to vote for him,” the clergy said.
The former President has always denied ties to paramilitary groups. Dozens of his Uribe-supporting congressmen have been convicted to ties to paramilitaries, who used the intimidation of the electorate in the 2002 and 2006 elections to have favorable candidates voted into congress.