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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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