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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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