Narconews: The Discreet Charm of Salvatore Mancuso
Del Castillo: The Discreet Charm of Salvatore Mancuso
February 8, 2005
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In a sequel to her column, "Colombia's Double Standard for Terrorism," Narco News Editorial Columnist Laura del Castillo looks this time at the case of Savatore Mancuso, leader of the right-wing paramilitary organization United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC in its Spanish initials). Mancuso and his organization are responsible for most of the serious human rights violations in recent Colombian history, having committed countless massacres against innocent farmers, workers, union activists, human rights workers, and others.
The Colombian government, led by President Alvaro Uribe and in constant coordination with the U.S. state department and military, seems quite willing to forgive Mancuso and his fellow paramilitaries' crimes in return for their "demobilization." Mancuso has been offered a very generous deal to let him avoid extradition to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. Meanwhile, a top guerrilla leader also in Colombian custody, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander Simón Trinidad, was himself recently extradited to the U.S. after being unable to comply with the impossible deal he was offered,
Del Castillo writes that while Uribe attacks the FARC rebels with the full force of the military and the law, he has no intention of making AUC members, terrorists if ever there were any, pay for their crimes:
"Mancuso said it himself, in an online chat-room debate held on the weekly magazine Semana's web site. When one of the debate's participants asked why the AUC had decided to demobilize, he answered: 'Finally, we believe there is a government leading the country that is committed to guaranteeing the life, honor, and property of the Colombian people, and so we are not necessary.' Of course, this 'redeemed soul' is right. With Uribe, who needs paras? He has made legal everything that they had once done illegally (just look at the rise in human rights violations over the last three years committed by the army and police against the civilian population, widely denounced by various human rights organizations, thanks to President Uribe's "democratic security" policy). And if Uribe is reelected in 2006, who knows, the ex-paramilitaries may have a wide participation in Colombian political life.
"There would be nothing strange about Mancuso being addressed years from now as 'Honorable Senator of the Republic,' although right now he assures us he has no aspirations of political office. In fact, he is already quite familiar with Congress. He was there, on July 29, 2004, receiving applause as if he were some kind of national hero."
Del Castillo shows how Uribe has used an arsenal of legal tricks to push through his accommodation with the paramilitaries, making a series of devil's bargains that undeniably violate the spirit of Colombian laws on the issue.
Read the entire column:
From somewhere in a country called América,
Managing Editor, Narco