Leftist opposition senator Ivan Cepeda on Wednesday claimed that Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe worked with the Medellin Cartel’s top finance man, among several other accusations of ties to criminal and politically violent activities over the last three decades.
In a debate broadcast on live television and streamed online by nearly every major Colombian newspaper, Cepeda provided extensive documentation of Uribe’s alleged connections paramilitaries, narco-traffickers, and those convicted of such ties.
It was a much-anticipated debate between two political enemies with long histories of accusing each other of supposed connections to illegal groups.
One of those alleged connections of Uribe’s was to the financier of the notorious Medellin Cartel, Luis Carlos Molina Yepes, who sent to prison for his involvement in the killing the director of El Espectador newspaper. According to the documents obtained by Cepeda, Uribe sat on the Board of Directors of Molina’s company COMFIRMESA.
Another central accusation by Cepeda was that Uribe has met with now-jailed paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso. Cepeda played an audio clip in which Mancuso claims to have met with Uribe while he was governor of Antioquia, being congratulated on his efforts for providing security in the state of Cordoba.
Mancuso would go on to reach the second-in-command of the now-defunct paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), considered a terrorist group by the United States government.
Cepeda claimed that Uribe received support for his presidential campaign from the Ochoa clan – known for their role in the drug trade – and from paramilitaries.
Documentation of other alleged links, including from his time as mayor of Medellin, governor of Antioquia, and as president, was presented as well.
For nearly one hour and a half, Uribe was able to respond the accusations made by Cepeda. The former president claimed that the debate was promoted by President Juan Manuel Santos, as well as the FARC.
Uribe claimed he has never had ties to paramilitaries or narco-traffickers, while also going on the offensive and throwing various accusations at a number of officials. He alleged that President Santos had wanted to ally with paramilitaries to remove former President Ernesto Samper from power.
Toward the end of his time, Uribe held up a picture of Senator Jimmy Chamorro, who resided over the debate, and claimed that it was he who had links to drug cartels. He said that he would present the evidence to authorities so that the alleged ties could be investigated.
- Álvaro Uribe Vélez: narcotráfico, paramilitarismo y parapolítica (Ivan Cepeda’s website)
- Live stream of debate