On This Day — El Aro Massacre (Colombia – October 22 1997) [2021]

“There are repeated accusations that the recordings were made by the British agency MI6, friends of Juan Manuel Santos, in a ruse against me.”

Former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe

Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is being investigated for his alleged participation in the ‘El Aro’ massacre which took place in the Department of Antioquia while he was governor.

October 22 2018 — The El Aro massacre (Spanish: Masacre del Aro) was a massacre in Colombia which occurred on October 22, 1997 in the municipality of Ituango, Department of Antioquia. 15 individuals accused of being leftist supporters of FARC were massacred by paramilitary groups with support from members of the Colombian Army. Perpetrators also raped women, burned down 43 houses, stole cattle and forcibly displaced 900 people. Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is investigated due to his alleged participation in the massacre that took place in the Department of Antioquia while he was governor. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“We do not understand how it is possible that academic centers of such renown have such a level of ignorance of the nefarious social, environmental, economic, cultural and political consequences left by the government of Álvaro Uribe in our country and in the region.”

Madres Falsos Positivos de Colombia

UPDATE (October 22 2021) — On May 5 2021, Alvaro Uribe was invited to sharing “his journey and insights in pursuit of citizen and environmental security” at a virtual event hosted by The John Brademas Center at New York University’s campus in Washington, DC.

Serious observers such as Adam Isacson — an expert on Colombia at the Washington Office on Latin America — were baffled.

“Maybe they should have a whole series of ‘human rights violators discuss things they never really worked on,'” Isacson said.

In a letter to the Brademas Center, the group Madres Falsos Positivos de Colombia — mothers whose unarmed children were among the thousands killed by security forces during Uribe’s reign and falsely labeled guerilla fighters — were indignant.

“We do not understand how it is possible that academic centers of such renown have such a level of ignorance of the nefarious social, environmental, economic, cultural and political consequences left by the government of Álvaro Uribe in our country and in the region,” they wrote.

When he was questioned about a beeper message intercepted to one of the paramilitaries involved in the massacre that said “Te recuerdo llamar al Gobernador. Preséntame y que yo lo visito en la tarde” (I remind you to call the governor. Introduce me and I will visit him in the afternoon), Uribe defended himself from these claims saying that the criminals could have used the term “governor” as slang to refer to anything and denied having met any of the perpetrators of the massacre.

Currently, it is estimated that across the country there are between 3500 and 10,000 victims of false positives in what Human Rights Watch has called as a case of unreleased human rights violation in the world where the army murders its own civilians to pass them off as enemies killed in combat.

RELATED POST: 2016 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE JUAN MANUEL SANTOS — Does Anyone Remember “Los Falsos Positivos”? [UPDATE : Peace Court: Colombia army killed 6,400 civilians and falsely passed them off as enemy combatants]

For these crimes, several international analysts have considered Uribe to be at risk of trial for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court or for War Crimes.

So far, the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court has information on 2047 cases of execution of civilians by the National Army. [Wikipedia] How many more do you need before a trial can start?

“Once a bastard, always a bastard” — At least 18 people have been reported killed and dozens more have gone missing during the recent street protests.

Always true to himself, Uribe found a way to inflame the situation. “Let’s support the right of soldiers and police to use their firearms to defend their integrity and to defend people and property from criminal acts of terrorist vandalism,” he wrote in a post that Twitter later removed for “glorifying violence.”

END of UPDATE

“The investigation involving Álvaro Uribe has serious implications for the independence of Colombia’s justice institutions, as well as the ongoing efforts to uncover the full truth about the powerful political networks that backed paramilitary death squads during Colombia’s decades-long conflict.”

Open Democracy (October 21 2019)

On May 31, 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia declared El Aro Massacre as a crime against humanity.

After his extradition to the United States, AUC paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso has continued to testify via satellite as part of the Justice and Peace process.

On November 18, 2008, Revista Semana reported on Mancuso’s declarations about the 1997 El Aro massacre, in which he stated that the AUC had received logistical help from the Colombian military and police.

Mancuso said that three helicopters, one belonging to the guerrillas, another from the Colombian military and one from the Antioquia governor’s office were present in the zone.

Former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe was the governor between 1995 and 1997.

Former paramilitary fighter, Francisco Enrique Villalba Hernández, has also accused  Uribe of planning the massacre, along with General Ospina, General Rosso, among other individuals.

What now?

On July 25 2018, former President Alvaro Uribe resigned his Senate seat to face a bribery and fraud investigation in the Supreme Court. [Uribe’s brother — Santiago — is currently awaiting trial for allegedly running a paramilitary group known as the Twelve Apostles.]

The bizarre part of the story is that Alvaro Uribe blames Brittish Intelligence Services MI6 for his troubles?!? Maybe, the former president is just making things up.

In that case, let us give “Dr Uribe” some Brownie points for creativity as he does not blame the CIA like everyone else from Venezuela to the Philippines.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible that MI6 have finally turned against him.

Flashback

Uribe, a mentor of Colombia’s incoming President Ivan Duque, is under investigation by the court over allegations he made false accusations and tampered with witnesses in a case he himself started by making similar accusations against a leftist senator.

Known for a hardline military crackdown on Marxist guerrillas during his 2002-2010 government, Uribe cited on Twitter what he said were claims that recordings in the case were made by MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.

“There are repeated accusations that the recordings were made by the British agency MI6, friends of Juan Manuel Santos. Foreign authorities in a ruse against me,” Uribe said.

He did not specify exactly which recordings he was referring to or the source of the accusations. But in a statement on Tuesday, the Supreme Court referenced intercepted phone calls between a lawyer and a former official that it said had plotted to undermine the case against Uribe.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign Office declined to comment on Uribe’s tweet. MI6, which is accountable to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, did not respond to calls requesting comment. [Reuters]

Alvaro Uribe was previously very close to the British government and their spooks. He was strongly supported in his campaign for the presidency by the British.

In order to stand as a candidate, he had to renounce his position as governor of Antioquia.

However, if he renounced, he would immediately lose his close protection bodyguard team, bomb-proof car and so on…

Moreover, he would be at physical risk, so the British offered him a scholarship at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, where he was supposed to study for a couple of years writing his PhD.

St Antony’s is known among some observers as Spook Hall because of its connections to the UK security and intelligence services.

On the day he renounced his governorship, he was taken by the British embassy bodyguards in an armed convoy to the airport at Bogotá and sent off to Oxford.

No trace of a PhD can be found on any of the published material from Oxford University.

After a couple of years he announced his candidature for the Presidency of Colombia and returned to Colombia.

If the UK spooks have cut him loose, the question is why?

His name has appeared on several CIA lists of known drug traffickers but this didn’t concern the Brits.

It was also widely believed that he was the power behind many of the paramilitary death squads and that didn’t bother the Brits either.

I suspect that he may have fallen out with the Americans and that would be enough for the UK to dump him or even to gather evidence against him.

With the coming of Brexit, it seems likely that the UK will be desperate to do whatever will please the US. The current UK government sees the US as the only friend they might have after Brexit.

“A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín.”

(Every pig will get his Saint Martin)

Colombia: Uribe’s involvement in ‘El Aro’ massacre to be investigated

Former Colombian president and current Senator Alvaro Uribe will be investigated for the death of 15 peasant farmers in 1997 in what was known as the ‘El Aro’ massacre.

The Justice and Peace division of the High Court of Medellin called for the investigation of Uribe to proceed due to his alleged participation in the massacre that took place in the Department of Antioquia while he was governor.

UPDATE (October 22 2019) — New declarations are part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Uribe family was directly involved in training and directing the operations of the outlaw paramilitary groups from their own ranch, located in the region of Antioquia.

Prosecutors accuse Uribe of helping to plan paramilitary massacres in La Granja (1996), San Roque (1996) and El Aro (1997) while he was governor of Antioquia, and the February 1998 assassination of Jesús María Valle, an attorney and human rights defender working with victims in those cases. [Wikipedia]

Open Democracy just published an excellent update titled: “What’s at stake in the historic Uribe trial?

In a landmark case that has deeply polarized Colombia, former president Álvaro Uribe testified before the Supreme Court on October 8 [2019], marking the first time that a former president has appeared before the court in an investigation that could eventually result in him facing criminal charges.

The investigation has serious implications for the independence of Colombia’s justice institutions, as well as the ongoing efforts to uncover the full truth about the powerful political networks that backed paramilitary death squads during Colombia’s decades-long conflict.

The case is poised to further exacerbate bitter political divisions in Colombia. In this context, it is crucial that the powerful parties involved respect the independence of Colombia’s justice institutions and refrain from baseless attacks seeking to delegitimize the Supreme Court and its magistrates. It is also essential that the court conduct the investigation and issue its decisions independently, free from political pressure—including any pressure that may result from disinformation campaigns aimed at shaping public opinion around the case.

The high-profile nature of the investigation also makes it essential that key witnesses receive adequate protection measures, given the number of threats and attacks reported against them so far.

Albeit indirectly, the ongoing probe is confronting a question that has cast a shadow over Colombian politics for years: what is the full truth of the Uribe family’s role in supporting paramilitarism during the country’s conflict, and will that question ever be taken up and clarified in a Colombian court?

The larger question at hand is what would it take for Colombian prosecutors and others in the justice system to unequivocally enter a new era of independence, and begin to enforce previously unheard-of levels of accountability for operators in both the business and political world, accused of perpetrating major human rights abuses during the conflict, but who have long been perceived as above the law.

Will those who silence witnesses and reformers with threats and acts of violence continue to come out ahead?

In the coming weeks, it is possible that the case could set an important precedent and send a powerful message that no one is immune from accountability and no one is above the law.

UPDATE (October 22 2020) —  In August 2020, the Supreme Court of Colombia has ordered the detention of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe amid an investigation into alleged witness tampering and fraud.

“The privation of my liberty causes me profound sadness for my wife, for my family, and for Colombians who still believe that I have done something good for the country,” Uribe said in a tweet.

The court ordered Uribe to be put on house arrest for his detention. The former president chose his residence in Medellin where he usually resides when he is not in Bogota.

RELATED POST: Matarife — An Unnameable Genocide [Álvaro Uribe Vélez — Season 1 – Episode 2 : Death Corporation]

Last week, Uribe was freed from house arrest while he’s investigated over an alleged conspiracy to bribe jailed gangsters.

“The former president is accused of employing intermediaries to visit jails and pressure ex-members of illegal militias into changing their testimonies against him and to instead smear opposition senator Ivan Cepeda, one of Uribe’s biggest foes.” [Bloomberg]

Matarife is a web series by Colombian journalist Daniel Mendoza Leal. The documentary narrates findings that relate the life of former Colombia president Álvaro Uribe Vélez with drug traffickers, paramilitaries, and corrupt politicians in Colombia. This is the real thing. If you liked Narcos [Netflix], you will love Matarife.

The case is still ongoing, but Uribe will now be at liberty while he mounts his defense.

REFERENCES

El Aro Massacre — Wikipedia

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On This Day — El Aro Massacre (October 22 1997)

On This Day — El Aro Massacre (Colombia – October 22 1997) [2019]

On This Day — El Aro Massacre (Colombia – October 22 1997) [UPDATE : Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe under House Arrest]

On This Day — El Aro Massacre (Colombia – October 22 1997) [2020]

On This Day — El Aro Massacre (Colombia – October 22 1997) [2021]

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