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Cablegate: Mancuso Alleges Paramilitary Ties to Politicians,

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3618/01 1382045
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 182045Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5546
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7555
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9004
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY LIMA 5072
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0322
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5692
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3968
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003618

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: MANCUSO ALLEGES PARAMILITARY TIES TO POLITICIANS,
RETIRED GENERALS, AND BUSINESSES

REF: A. 98 STATE 67029
B. 99 STATE 130281
C. BOGOTA 449

-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) Former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso claimed
in his May 15-16 voluntary testimony that retired generals,
top government officials (including the vice-president and
defense minister), members of congress, local government
representatives, and companies had collaborated with
paramilitaries. Mancuso claimed these ties were "irrefutable
proof" that the paramilitary movement enjoyed official
backing and sponsorship. President Uribe reiterated his
commitment to exposing the truth about paramilitary crimes,
and voiced confidence in Vice-President Francisco Santos and
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos. End summary.

------------
Naming Names
------------

2. (SBU) Ex-paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso resumed on
May 15 in Medellin the third round of his voluntary
confession or "version libre," which was suspended in
January. He implicated three retired military generals--Ivan
Ramirez, Martin Orlando Carreno, and Rito Alejo del Rio--in
paramilitary activities. (NOTE: We revoked the visas of Ivan
Ramirez and Rito Alejo del Rio in 1998 and 1999 respectively,
Ramirez for terrorism ties and del Rio for terrorism and
narcotrafficking concerns. Upon taking office, former
President Pastrana removed Ramirez and del Rio from duty in
1998--ref A and B.) He also identified former National
Police Director and current Ambassador to Austria Rosso Jose
Serrano as the person who intervened to release him and
ex-para leader Rodrigo Tovar (Jorge 40) from prison in
Guajira. Carreno and Serrano publicly denied Mancuso's
claims.

3. (U) Mancuso said Vice President Francisco Santos and
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos had both met with him and
other paramilitary leaders on more than one occasion in the
1990s. During this time, the vice president was a columnist
for the Santos family-owned El Tiempo newspaper and the
defense minister was a private citizen. Mancuso claimed
Francisco Santos supported the creation of a paramilitary
bloc that operated in Bogota, and claimed Juan Manuel Santos
backed a plot to overthrow then-President Ernesto Samper in
1996-97. He did not provide evidence to support either of
these allegations. In addition, Mancuso said President
Uribe's cousin Mario and former congresswoman Eleonora Pineda
had entered into an electoral pact with him. On May 16,
Mario Uribe publicly denied making any deals with Mancuso.

4. (U) Defense Minister Santos said late on May 15 he met
the paramilitaries and guerrillas in 1997 in an effort to
broker peace. He acknowledged he met twice with former
paramilitary leader Carlos Castano, but said he had also met
with the FARC and ELN, all in the company of intermediary
Alvaro Leyva. The Defense Minister said, "If this is the
'truth' Mancuso wants to reveal, then people are going to be
disappointed." In a radio interview on May 16, President
Uribe said, "We want to get at the truth...but it must be put
into proper context." He voiced full confidence in Vice
President Santos and Defense Minister Santos and recognized
they both had long acknowledged past meetings with the
paramilitaries.

------------------------
AUC Electoral Activities
------------------------

5. (U) On May 16, Mancuso said he was personally responsible
for the election of 25 of 28 municipal mayors in the

department of Cordoba, and claimed other paramilitary leaders
were responsible for securing the election of mayors and
congressmen in other departments such as Sucre. He revealed
he had backed seven members of Congress: Julio Manzur, Zulema
Jattin, Miguel de la Espriella, Reginaldo Montes, Libardo
Lopez, Muriel Benito, and Eleonora Pineda. Mancuso asserted
that no politician was forced to attend the 2001 meeting in
Santa Fe de Ralito that has led to the arrest of 16 former
and current officeholders. Mancuso again claimed that the
AUC helped elect 35 percent of the Congress were elected in
2002 (ref A). Several of the arrested officeholders said on
May 17 that Mancuso was not telling the truth and has failed
to reveal the extent of his criminal activities.

---------------------------------
Ties with Local and Foreign Firms
---------------------------------

6. (U) On May 17, Mancuso addressed paramilitary finances,
personal assets, and narcotrafficking. He provided details
about alleged ties between the paramilitaries and companies,
such as Bavaria, Postobon, and some multinational firms.
Among the multinational organizations that Mancuso said made
regular payments to the paramilitaries were Chiquita, Dole,
Del Monte, and Hyundai. He claimed the latter donated four
vehicles per year to the AUC. The Colombian and
multinational firms implicated by Mancuso denied his
allegations. On personal assets, he claimed to have turned
over 25 million USD in property titles. In terms of
narcotrafficking, he said he "managed it all."

---------------------------
Next Steps of Version Libre
---------------------------

7. (U) Mancuso is expected to answer specific questions
about the incidents/crimes he already confessed to when he
resumes his testimony; the new date has not yet been set. In
his previous testimony in January, Mancuso described 93
operations in which he personally killed or ordered killed
375 people from the early 1990s to 2004 (ref C). He also
discussed paramilitary infiltration of government
institutions and interference in local and national
elections, and handed over the July 2001 "Ralito Agreement"
signed by paramilitary leaders and some 30 political figures.
Drucker

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