Extradited paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso has said the Uribe administration invited drug dealers to the negotiation table during the AUC demobilization process.
In an interview with El Tiempo from a jail in the United States, Mancuso, alias “El Mono Mancuso” or “Triple Cero,” accused the former government and specifically the former Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo of bargaining with drug dealers during peace talks with the AUC.
“The high commissioner held meetings with drug traffickers in the AUC bloc that I commanded, with the drug traffickers that financed the Catatumbo (an AUC bloc that operated in the northeast of Colombia),” said Mancuso who went on to say that the reason for his extradition to the U.S. was an attempt by the former administration of Alvaro Uribe to silence him.
“The Colombian government has never explained to us how we will have the power to reconstruct the truth in these conditions of solitude that lack the tools for us to do so. To date, there is no clarity nor judicial security, coupled with the lack of guarantees and physical securities. They have assassinated 2,000 of our ex-companions and dozens of our relatives to silence us,” said the former AUC second-in-command who is accused of over 10,000 murders.
Integral to the demobilization process was the 2005 Justice and Peace Law (JPL) whose raison d’etre was to retrieve full confessions of the crimes by former AUC members in order for families of the victims to obtain explanations for the disappearances of relatives. In exchange for their cooperation with the JPL, many former AUC members received reduced sentences and benefits to help them re-integrate into society, a perk that was criticized by international human rights activists.
In April 2010, former President Uribe was also forced to fend off allegations from Mancuso that his 2002 presidential campaign was financed in part by the AUC.
Last month, another extradited paramilitary commander, Ever Veloza, alias “H.H.,” also accused Uribe of pressuring him to keep quiet about paramilitary ties to politicians, the military and businessmen.
In response to Mancuso’s claims, Luis Carlos Restrepo declared his innocence on Monday through W Radio by reiterating that he “never” met with drug traffickers as part of the demobilization process.
The former Commissioner of Peace has recently been implicated in an alleged fake demobilization of a FARC front in 2006 as well as endorsing the alleged false demobilization of drug trafficker “El Tuso.”