Colombia’s Partido de la U and the Conservative Party Tuesday denied accusations by Colombian NGO Arco Iris that several of their recently elected Congressmen are affiliated with parapolitics, El Tiempo reported Tuesday.
Partido de la U Vice Presidential candidate Angelino Garzon and Conservative Party leader Fernando Araujo rejected Arco Iris’ accusations that eight and five newly elected senators respectively from their parties were involved in parapolitics.
“Not every increase in votes for a particular party or candidate is due to unusual circumstances,” said Garzon, adding that the National Electoral Council and judges should be the bodies who determine whether or not there were irregularities during the election.
Araujo defended those accused in his Conservative Party, saying “the organization [Arco Iris] is wrong. Myriam Paredes was cleared by the Supreme Court; Olga Suarez Mira does not have any investigation [of parapolitics] against her; Oscar Josue Reyes was not even elected; Carlos Barriga was elected, but is only in the preliminary phases of an investigation; I don’t think that Eduardo Enriquez Maya is being investigated.”
Arco Iris alleged Monday that 22 or 23 newly elected senators were implicated in parapolitics. The NGO’s director Leon Valencia said that of the Congressmen accused of parapolitics, “eight are from the PIN, eight are from the Partido de la U, five are from the Conservative Party, one is from the Liberal Party, and one is from Cambio Radical.”
The organization’s harshest critiques were reserved for the PIN party, claiming that it represents the boldest example of parapolitics in Colombian democracy, and that they it was able to receive nearly one million votes and eight congressional seats by consolidating the constituencies of smaller parties previously implicated and associated with parapolitics.
Parapolitics refers to the phenomenon of politicians aligning themselves with paramilitary groups in order to gain more votes in elections. In the past paramilitary groups have resorted to threats and violence to compel citizens to vote for particular candidates.