Local press has reported that the former governor of Antioquia, Luis Alfredo Ramos, the former finance minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and former vice-president Francisco Santos are all being asked by judicial authorities to clarify alleged meetings with paramilitary commanders and organizations.
This is not the first time that Uribe or his associates have been accused of having paramilitary ties; Dozens of Uribe-loyal former congressmen, including the former President’s cousin, are in prison for using paramilitary death squads to coerce electorates to vote the politicians into office. Uribe himself is under criminal investigation for allegedly aligning to paramilitary forces when he was governor of Antioquia and for allegedly plotting to discredit the Supreme Court in 2008 with the help of demobilized paramilitary commanders.
Uribe’s former vice president and leading candidate for the pruimaries, Francisco Santos, is under investigation from the Prosecutor General’s Office for a meeting that reportedly took place between himself, paramilitary commanders Salvatore Mancuso and “Jorge 40” about the alleged creation of a paramilitary death squad in teh capital Bogota. While Santos has claimed that this is a “big lie”, it has been corroborated by Diego Fernando Murillo, alias “Don Berna.”
Similarly, reports from newspaper La Vanguardia Liberal suggest that Ramos has admitted to meeting with paramilitaries in Bello, Antioquia, in January 2004 when he was a senator. The later-governor of Antioquia insists however that his meeting, which was conducted with the paramilitary boss “Ernesto Baez,” was regarding the demobilization of paramilitary troops.
When pressed on the matter, Ramos explained that “Baez showed concern for the future of the demobilized, who submitted to the Law of Justice and Peace for the reintegration promoted by the government of Alvaro Uribe.” Despite admitting to the meeting, Ramos is “adamant in denying any links with right-wing criminal organizations that for years have committed murders, disappearances and massacres.”
Zuluaga has also expressed his regret at being photographed with a female paramilitary called Maribel Galvis. In one of the images he can be seen to hold her hand at what appears to be a rally. He has since insisted that he did not know that she had any paramilitary connections.
UPDATE (May 26, 2014): The Prosecutor General’s Office responded to questions that the charges against Zuluaga were dropped on July 8, 2008.