Colombia: photos link Uribe to narcos, paras

On Dec. 25, Bogotá-based online newspaper Las 2 Orillas ran photos scanned from old print editions of provincial daily El Meridiano de Córdoba that showed ex-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez posing with various figures linked to narco-trafficking and illegal paramilitaries. The shots, taken when Uribe was on the campaign trail in 2002, and earlier when he was governor of Antioquia, showed him with numerous figures later tainted by the "para-politics" scandal. One was Róger Taboada, first director of the scandal-plagued rural development bank FINAGRO, who stepped down following revelations he had approved a  loan to Luis Enrique "Micky" Ramírez, the reigning drug lord of Caquetá department. Uribe also appeared with family members of now-imprisoned paramilitary warlord Salvatore Mancuso

The revelations come at a bad time for the "drug war" hardliner Uribe, now pursuing a defamation suit against his own ex-defense minister, Gabriel Silva Luján, who compared his litigious ex-boss to notoriously blood-drenched Medellín Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar in a Nov. 3 opinion piece in El Tiempo, the country's most prestigious daily. Luján's column came in response to Uribe's launching of a new political party, the "Uribe Centro Democrático," as a vehicle for his continued ambitions. (ANNCOL, Dec. 25; NACLA, Dec. 6)

Uribe has been named before as having been an operative of the Medellín Cartel as an Antioquia politician in the 1990s.