Colombia: scandal reveals paramilitary control of regional elections

The Fiscalia, the Colombian national prosecutor’s office, has released a final report on the scandal surrounding a laptop siezed from Rodrigo Tovar Pupo (alias “Jorge 40”), leader of the Northern Bloc of the paramilitary Colombian Self-Defense Forces (AUC), revealing widespread control of the political system in northern Colombia by the officially outlawed paramilitaries.

In addition to detailed accounts of narco-trafficking and political assassinations in the northern departments of Magdalena, La Guajira, Córdoba and Cesar, the computer also revealed a Jan. 6, 2006 “meeting with politicians from Sucre y Bolívar, to support candidates in the elections to be held in March and to consolidate political and military power in Sucre and Bolívar with a new group to be called the Social Front for Peace in Sucre y Bolívar, led by ‘Antonio’ and ‘Gonzalo’, under the orders of Jorge 40.” “Antonio” is a code-name for Tovar himself, and “Gonzalo” was apparently a man chosen as his political boss for the region. The computer document also refered to a “new military project” for the region at a time when the AUC was ostensibly demobilizing. Four Sucre department deputies have been arrested in the scandal. (El Tiempo, Bogota, Oct. 9) Tovar surrendered to authorities last month at La Mesa in Cesar department, where his fighters are confined as a part of the demobilization process (El Tiempo, Sept. 5)

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