Less than a year before Colombia's 2014 elections, the country's Supreme Court ordered the arrest Aug. 29 of a presidential primary candidate for former President Alvaro Uribe's Democratic Center party. Luis Alfredo Ramos, former senator and governor of Antioquia, is under investigation for suspected ties to paramilitary groups—the latest elite figure to be linked to the "para-politics" scandal. Judicial authorities are probing Ramos' purported collaboration with Freddy Rendón AKA "El Aleman"—a now "demobilized" commander of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Ramos is also suspected of links to Juan Carlos Sierra AKA "El Tuso"—another AUC commander now imprisoned in the US on drug trafficking charges. "El Tuso" is reported have made major contributions to Ramos' political campaigns. Ramos is expected to be arrested imminently.
Of the Democratic Center party's five primary candidates, three now have criminal investigations pending against them. The two other candidates with alleged paramilitary links are Uribe's former vice president (and sitting President Juan Manuel Santos' cousin) Francisco Santos, and Uribe's former finance minister, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. Uribe himself is also being investigated by both the Prosecutor General's Office and a Congressional committee.
In response to the arrest order, the Democratic Center party told the press that Ramos "temporarily abandons the presidential campaign in order to dutifully attend the requirements of the authorities." (Colombia Reports, El Tiempo, Diario del Huila, Aug. 28)
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