Colombia: Ex-Paramilitary Leader Testifies About Alleged Assassinations

Image copyright: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

The Facts

  • Former Colombian paramilitary leader of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Salvatore Mancuso, testified this week before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal, where he discussed alleged assassination programs orchestrated during the country’s decades-long internal conflict.

  • As commander of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Mancuso described how the group murdered and disappeared political activists and others seen as sympathetic to left-wing groups and causes, calling them "assassinations."

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

As Colombia seeks justice for the victims of its decades-long civil war, the South American nation should go even further in allowing more highly qualified human rights lawyers to represent the hundreds of thousands killed and millions of displaced Colombians. Since 2016, the government has completed commendable work on this front, which is why such a request is not too much to ask of this new, forward-thinking regime.

Establishment-critical narrative

To seek justice for Colombia and its regional neighbors, the role played by the US State Department and CIA must not be left out. As far back as the 1960s, government records show the US planned and trained rebels on how to conduct assassinations and coups d'état. South American drug wars and civil conflicts are often part of US strategy to ensure US-friendly politicians are in power, and the CIA was willing to sacrifice innocent lives to achieve its geopolitical interests.

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