Questions are being asked of Colombian presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez’s regarding her support of a former Colombian general currently being held in the United States on charges relating to paramilitarism.
Jesus Enrique Piñacue, a candidate for Senate reelection from the Social Indigenous Alliance (Alianza Social Indigena), says that Ramirez “led” the movement to promote former General Mauricio Santoyo in the Colombian Senate, and has called on the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador) nominee to explain herself in light of the general’s ties to illegal armed groups that terrorized the Colombian countryside.
“We were 12 Senators, Juan Manuel Galan, Cecilia Lopez, Alexandra Moreno Piraquive who were the opposition, and the rest, the pro-government bloc formed by Dr. Marta Lucia (Ramirez) herself […] supported him,” Piñacue recalled, saying that Ramirez “”crushed the opposition votes eight to four.”
Santoyo, who served as chief of security during former President Alvaro Uribe’s 2002 election campaign and first term, pleaded guilty in 2012 in a US court for aiding paramilitary groups in Colombia.
“There is a protruding blemish that Dr. Marta Lucia Ramirez has on her career,” he said, suggesting that Ramirez “is currently ignoring [the issue] as it might affect her presidential candidacy” and that Ramirez “washed her hands [of the matter] seven years ago.”
Colombia’s indigenous communities have been disproportionately affected by paramilitary activity, which reached its peak during the Uribe’s administration. Various public officials and elected representatives from the first decade of the 2000s have been either convicted or accused of paramilitary ties.