The Colombian and Venezuelan governments will begin the search for the remains of Colombians who disappeared in the border area, victims of decades of Colombian paramilitary violence. This comes after statements made by Salvatore Mancuso, a former leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary group.
The AUC is a dismantled, powerful far-right paramilitary organization financed by the Colombian oligarchy, government and multinational corporations that terrorized the Colombian countryside from 1997 until 2006. Many analysts point to a direct link between this criminal organization, the Colombian army and Israel, providing them with training. It is responsible for the death and disappearance of hundreds of Colombians. Recently, its former leader Salvatore Mancuso made statements pointing to at least 200 bodies being buried on the Venezuelan side of the border.
Colombian State and Paramilitarism: Salvatore Mancuso’s Tell-all Declaration Before Truth Commission
Through a statement, Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva reported that his Venezuelan counterpart Yván Gil is aware of the situation and that the two countries will cooperate in searching for the victims’ remains.
According to the statement released by the Colombian Defense Ministry on social media this Sunday, May 14, Colombia “agreed to provide prompt and effective institutional mechanisms to locate the mortal remains of Colombian nationals reported missing in the border area, buried in Venezuelan territory, according to statements by Salvatore Mancuso, former commander of the self-styled United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).”
🚨Comunicado firmado por el señor canciller @AlvaroLeyva sobre "prontos y eficaces mecanismos institucionales que permitan localizar restos mortales de nacionales colombianos dados por desaparecidos en zona de frontera" venezolana.
Aquí los detalles 👉https://t.co/5v96tMLJvu pic.twitter.com/MA2BgrZlDM
— Cancillería Colombia (@CancilleriaCol) May 14, 2023
Minister Leyva stated that Mancuso made these statements during an event in Juan Frío, Norte de Santander department. Mancuso participated virtually to make an appearance before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
Mancuso, currently imprisoned in the US for drug trafficking, told the JEP that in 2000 and 2001, members of the AUC “entered and left graves in Venezuela. There are more than 200 missing people there.” Meanwhile, a Venezuelan Chavista leader disclosed during the weekly United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) press conference on Monday that the number of victims might be around 300.
“I respectfully request that you allow me to go with you personally to identify these places,” added the former paramilitary criminal.
According to Mancuso, the bodies of these victims would be in San Cristóbal, Ureña, San Antonio, La Fría and Boca de Grita, all in the Venezuelan state of Táchira.
For his part, Colombian President Gustavo Petro said, “We accept the collaboration of Salvatore Mancuso to find the remains of disappeared Colombians killed by paramilitaries and buried in Venezuela.”
At the same time, President Petro stated that this search is part of the reparation for the victims.
Aceptamos la colaboración de Salvatore Mancuso para encontrar los restos de desaparecidos colombianos asesinados por el paramilitarismo y enterrados en Venezuela.
Se trata de la reparación de las víctimas. https://t.co/6NGjrtO551
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) May 14, 2023
It is important to note that the Colombian government accuses the AUC of committing at least 135 crimes against humanity. Among them, homicide, disappearance and forced displacement against nearly 8,000 direct and indirect victims.
Directly under Mancuso’s leadership, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office estimates that at least 600 people were victims of selective homicides, sexual abuse, forced displacement, torture, disappearance, kidnapping for extortion, and recruitment of minors, among other crimes.
This Monday, the Colombian government also disclosed that its state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, was responsible for payments to the AUC.
(RedRadioVE) by Milena Bravo, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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