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Wed Jul 18, 2012, 07:08 PM

Paramilitaries said 1997 massacre was 'well coordinated' with army: US cable . (Colombia)

Source: Colombia Reports

Paramilitaries said 1997 massacre was 'well coordinated' with army: US cable .
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 09:31 Adriaan Alsema

Members of paramilitary organization AUC told the U.S. embassy that the 1997 Mapiripan massacre in central Colombia was "well coordinated in advance" with (elements of) the army, according to a released diplomatic cable.

The State Department document was declassified and published Tuesday by the National Security Archive, a non-profit organization dedicated to declassifying U.S. government documents.

According to the embassy's anonymous sources, the army provided "travel, logistics, intelligence and security" to the paramilitary who killed dozens of civilians in the five days after their July 15 incursion of the town.

The identification of the victims has been complicated as the paramilitaries cut up the majority of their remains and threw them in a nearby river.

Read more: http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/25133-paramilitaries-said-1997-massacre-was-well-coordinated-with-army-us-cable.html

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Reply Paramilitaries said 1997 massacre was 'well coordinated' with army: US cable . (Colombia) (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 OP
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #1
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #2
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #3
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #6
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #4
Judi Lynn Jul 2012 #5

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 07:20 PM

1. The Massacre at Mapiripán

The Massacre at Mapiripán
By Jo-Marie Burt · April 3, 2000

In July 1997, the paramilitary group known as the United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC) went on a grisly killing spree in Mapiripán, a small coca-growing town in southeastern Colombia. According to eyewitness accounts, the paramilitaries hacked their victims to death with machetes, decapitated many with chainsaws and dumped the bodies–some still alive–into the Guaviare River. At least 30 people were killed, though the true number of dead may never be known. Carlos Castaño, the self-anointed leader of the AUC, immediately and unabashedly took credit for the massacre.

But Castaño did not act alone. Human rights observers immediately noted the complicity of the Colombian armed forces in the Mapiripán massacre. The paramilitaries used an army-guarded airstrip to land from their stronghold in northern Colombia and from which to launch their attack. Nor did the authorities respond to repeated calls by a local judge to stop the attack, which lasted six consecutive days.

Evidence later emerged suggesting that the role of the Colombian military in the massacre was in fact much deeper, and in March 1999 Colombian prosecutors indicted Colonel Lino Sánchez, operations chief of the Colombian Army’s 12th Brigade, for planning, with Castaño, the Mapiripán massacre. This is not surprising, given that the links between paramilitaries and the Colombian army have been well established. According to a February Human Rights Watch report, half of the Colombian Army’s 18 brigades have clear links to paramilitary groups.

In recent weeks, new evidence obtained by Ignacio Gómez of the Bogotá daily El Espectador, suggests that weeks, if not days, before the Mapiripán massacre, Colonel Sánchez received “special training” by U.S. Army Green Berets on Barrancón Island, on the Guaviare River. While it cannot be said that U.S. forces were directly involved in the massacre, or even knew that it was being planned, the events offer compelling evidence that U.S. equipment, training and money can be easily turned to vile purposes in what Human Rights Watch has called a “war without quarter.”


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 07:24 PM

2. Document Friday: The Mapiripán Massacre “Cover-up”

Document Friday: The Mapiripán Massacre “Cover-up”
July 13, 2012
by Michael Evans

The Colombian military falsely blamed a junior officer for complicity in a 1997 paramilitary massacre “as part an effort to confuse and cover up the responsibility of others,” according to a 2003 State Department letter, which we’re featuring here today as our Document Friday selection.

This posting kicks off the Archive’s commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Mapiripán massacre, one of the most infamous and emblematic acts of violence of Colombia’s decades-old conflict. A forthcoming Electronic Briefing Book now being prepared for the Archive’s Web site will highlight new revelations from a highly anticipated set of declassified diplomatic cables on Mapiripán released earlier today by the State Department’s Appeals Review Panel.

The State Department wrote the letter on behalf of Hernán Orozco, a former Colombian army colonel who cooperated with prosecutors during the investigation of his commanding officer, Gen. Jaime Uscategui, the first Colombian general to be sentenced in a major human rights case. The letter and other declassified documents published here today show that the State Department harbored serious concerns that the “whistle-blower” junior officer Orozco was being unfairly persecuted in Colombia for testifying against a senior military commander.

Two of Colombia’s top paramilitary figures, Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso, masterminded the Mapiripán massacre, flying more than 100 of their men into the region from Urabá, a longtime paramilitary stronghold. Arriving at a joint military/police airfield, the paras traveled by truck and by river to Mapiripán, passing several military checkpoints along the way. Dozens of suspected guerrilla collaborators were killed in the days that followed. A local magistrate—who each night “heard the screams of people who were being tortured and murdered” by Castaño’s men, made urgent pleas to Orozco, commander of the local army brigade, to step in and end the slaughter.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 07:41 PM

3. Article in Colombia's newspaper, El Tiempo, re: former para's court testimony:

Murder Training: Colombian Death Squad Used Live Hostages
April 29, 2007 By El Tiempo

El Tiempo, Bogota -- "Proof of courage": that is how the how the paramilitaries would term the training they imparted to their recruits so that they learnt how to carve up people while they were still alive.

Initially, the authorities rejected this version of the farmers who reported the practice... but when the combatants themselves started to admit to it in their testimonies before the prosecutors, the myth became a harsh crime against humanity.

Francisco Enrique Villalba Hernández (alias Cristian Barreto), one of the perpetrators of the massacre at El Aro in Ituango, Antioquia, received this type of training in the same place where he learnt to handle arms and manufacture home-made bombs. Today, a prisoner at La Picota in Bogota, Villalba has described in details during lengthy testimonies how he applied the learning.

"Towards the middle of 1994, I was ordered to a course... in El Tomate, Antioquia, where the training camp was located," he says in his testimony. There, his working day started at 5 in the morning and the instructions were received directly from the top commanders such as 'Double Zero' (Carlos Garcia, since assassinated by another paramilitary group).

Villalba claims that in order to learn how to dismember people they would use farmers they gathered together in the course of taking neighbouring settlements. As he describes it, "they were aged people whom we brought in trucks, alive and bound up". The victims arrived at the ranch in covered trucks. They were lowered from the vehicle with their hands tied and taken to a room. There they were locked up for days in the hope that the training would start.



Former AUC, Francisco Enrique Villalba.[/center]

Material from a testimony by this man, Francisco Villaba, former death squad member. He was murdered not too long ago, after he had testified in court regarding his participation in AUC (right-wing paramillitary) activities:

Details of testimony that involves Uribe in a massacre
Posted on June 20, 2008 by csn


(Very, very graphic. Horrendous.)

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #3)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 08:20 PM

6. Comments by Colombia's "El Tiempo" editor:

Colombia Searches for its Dead
Apr 29 2007
Luz María Sierra

They Gave Quartering Classes

When we decided at El Tiempo to do a special report on the phenomenon of common graves a scene began to repeat itself in our newsroom: one by one, reporters coming back from the field, returned mortified.

Few discoveries have shaken us so deeply and few are as difficult to write about: from the scale of the horror, to the way they died, and by the insatiable pain of the families, as well as—perhaps most unsettling—realizing the magnitude of the work that remains to be done throughout the country. Will a significant number of the dead be unearthed and identified to alleviate their families? Will we be able to mourn, as we should, to prevent a third chapter of extreme violence from enrapturing Colombia?

Paramilitary testimonies and the results of forensic teams lead us to conclude that the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary umbrella group, not only designed a method to quarter human beings, they also took the extra step of actually giving classes on the subject, using live people taken to their training camps.

Paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso confessed that to prevent authorities from finding the body of indigenous leader Kimi Pernía, they dug up his grave and threw his remains into the Sinú River. Informed sources allege that before beginning his demobilization negotiations with the government, Mancuso ordered land that was seeded with the dead on the Ralito estate to be dug up to hide his crimes. Now, investigators say the “Black Eagles,” which are a successor group of the paras, are going around the country digging up graves and throwing the remains into the rivers.

And the guerrillas? Their common graves have been found as well, especially in the department of Cundinamarca, but 98% of the denunciations and claims of graves being investigated by the Fiscalía are connected to the paras.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 07:53 PM

4. Here's one reason it's hard to get a lot of formal information on the Colombia massacres:

Mounting Evidence of President’s Involvement in Massacre

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 27 April 2008


• In the months and years that followed, government agencies as well as human rights organisations opened investigations into the massacre at El Aro. However, in 1999 the government investigators that were involved in this work were themselves all murdered. The highest profile human rights defender in Antioquia at that time, Jesus Maria Valle Jaramillo, publicly stated that the Army and paramilitaries had collaborated on the massacre and questioned why Governor Uribe had ignored the plea for help from residents in the period immediately preceding the attack. Uribe responded by accusing Mr Valle Jaramillo of being an "enemy of the armed forces". Then in February 1999, he too was assassinated.

• Some time afterwards Jose Ardila, the CONVIVIR representative who had attended the first meeting at the ranch with the Uribe brothers, had a falling out with Uribe. He was subsequently sentenced to a 60-year prison term but shortly afterwards was taken out of jail. He has never been seen since.

• Since going public with his testimony, Mr Villalba, who himself is in jail, has been the victim of three assassination attempts.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2012, 08:06 PM

5. COLOMBIA: Half Century of US Military Presence

COLOMBIA: Half Century of US Military Presence
Analysis by Javier Darío Restrepo

BOGOTA, Aug 11 2009 (IPS) - In the 1960s, it went by the name of Latin American Security Operation, or Plan LASO; today it is known as Plan Colombia. Back then, the aim was to weed out communism; now it is to combat drug trafficking, while at the same time dealing a blow to the guerrillas. But at that time or today, the interests of the United States are at stake, although the killing takes place in Colombia – whether in the fight against communists, guerrillas, drug traffickers, or all of them together.

In May 1964, the teletype machines were clicking as a United Press International (UPI) cable arrived from Washington about “a group of special forces technicians of the United States Army…sent to Colombia with (the) purpose of instructing soldiers and police in counter-guerrilla tactics.”

The advisers formed part of a campaign started by President Alberto Lleras (1945-1946 and 1958-1962) and continued by his successor Guillermo León Valencia (1962-1966).

The UPI cable goes on to say that “one of the principal tactics employed in the counter-guerrilla operations was the implementation of psycho-warfare which brought about the cooperation and trust of the indigenous population.”


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