Each new statement made by the former Colombian paramilitary Salvatore Mancuso before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) digs up dirt on high-profile political personalities in Colombia. On Thursday, May 11, Mancuso, former head of the now extinct paramilitary gang United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), revealed during a JEP trial that former Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos requested the AUC to create a paramilitary bloc called ‘Bloque Capital’ in Bogotá, capital of Colombia.
Santos made that request before he became the vice president of Colombia in the government of Álvaro Uribe in 2002, which signified that Santos’ links with Colombian paramilitary groups go back as far as the 1990s.
In his statement, Mancuso described the support that the AUC received from Colombia’s political, business, and military elites to fight the guerrillas on a new front.
Mancuso further revealed that, as the AUC was ordered to disappear all its victims, he, as commander of the Catatumbo Bloc, devised “the tactic to dump all the bodies in Venezuelan territory.” He added that this happened during 2000-2001. Some of the bodies were thrown into the Catatumbo river.
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“Some members of the AUC entered Venezuela to make mass graves; there are some 200 people who were buried there,” Mancuso confessed. He also claimed that the AUC coordinated with members of the Venezuelan armed forces in order to bury its victims in Venezuela.
The former paramilitary leader offered to go to the areas where the bodies were dumped. “I respectfully request that you allow me to go with you personally to identify those places,” he said.
According to Mancuso, the bodies are buried in San Cristóbal, Ureña, San Antonio, La Fría, and Boca de Grita, in the Venezuelan state of Táchira which borders Colombia.
Mancuso was contacted to kill Hugo Chávez
Mancuso also revealed that some Venezuelan politicians and military generals had contacted him and another AUC chief Carlos Castaño to assassinate Venezuela’s former President Hugo Chávez.
Mancuso, who is imprisoned in the US for drug trafficking, stated that said Venezuelan generals and politicians traveled to Colombia to make the proposal to him and Castaño.
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“At one point a Venezuelan general came, accompanied by his son and some Venezuelan politicians, to make the proposal to Carlos Castaño and me,” Mancuso confessed. “Jorge Iván Laverde [former member of the AUC] even accompanied them in the helicopter, or it was Armando Alberto [Pérez Betancourt, Mancuso’s right hand man], so that they would come to Tierraalta, Córdoba, to propose us to carry out a coup d’état in coordination with a part of the Venezuelan armed forces allied with us to overthrow and assassinate Hugo Chávez.”
Mancuso added that the proposal was not accepted by the AUC and that Castaño “even got angry.” However, there was a counter-proposal, according to Mancuso: “Carlos asked them to send us the men, and we would train them so that they could carry out the coup against Hugo Chávez.”
“In the end they did not send those men,” he added. Nevertheless, members of the Catatumbo Block of the AUC continued to have “contact with this Venezuelan general and they went to Venezuela.”
“All this that I am saying here goes far beyond,” Mancuso said. “This has broader implications because there was coordination with military and political forces on the Venezuelan side also for this type of operations.”
(Misión Verdad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Misión Verdad is a Venezuelan investigative journalism website with a socialist perspective in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution
Misión Verdad#molongui-disabled-linkMay 26, 2023
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