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‘Colombian businesses financed paramilitary lobby’

posted by Toni Peters

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AUC

Colombian business leaders lobbied Congress to pass 2005 legislation leading to the demobilization of paramilitary organization AUC, a demobilized member told Caracol Radio Tuesday.

“Gonzalo,” the political chief for one the AUC’s most prominent leaders, “Jorge 40,” said businessmen used their money and influence to persuade politicians to pass the Justice and Peace Law – a bill that gave paramilitaries financial benefits in return for laying down arms.

The law has been highly controversial since its inception, partly for the incentives offered but mainly due to the impunity that the majority of demobilized fighters – numbering approximately 30,000 – have received for their crimes.

Gonzalo said the full extent of the ties between Colombian businesses and the AUC’s “Capital de Bogota” Bloc was still unknown, because none of the former paramilitary leaders had felt safe enough to speak out.

“Right now, the difficulty is not to tell the truth, the difficulty is to have the [safety] guarantees to do so,” said the demobilized paramilitary, who claimed to be the mediator between Jorge 40 and the businesses.

Gonzalo told the radio station that “in due time,” Jorge 40 will confirm the allegations.

The majority of the AUC’s leaders were extradited to the U.S. to face drug charges. Many of them, including Jorge 40, have since refused all cooperation with Colombian investigators, claiming the security of their families in Colombia is at risk.

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