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Cable 1038: Fallout Continues in Colombian "Parapolitics" Scandal

Cable 1038: Fallout Continues in Colombian "Parapolitics" Scandal

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Published by Andres
This is a 2008 US embassy report on new arrests and continuing political conflict follwing the discovery of corrupt ties between prominent Colombian politicians and illegal right wing paramilitary groups.
This is a 2008 US embassy report on new arrests and continuing political conflict follwing the discovery of corrupt ties between prominent Colombian politicians and illegal right wing paramilitary groups.

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Published by: Andres on Apr 27, 2013
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04/27/2013

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P 081751Z APR 08FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2291C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001304SUBJECT: NEW ARRESTS IN PARA-POLITICAL SCANDALGENERATE CALLS FOR EARLY VOTE AND REFORM 
Classified By: Political Counselor John S. CreamerReason 1.4 (b) and (d)
-------SUMMARY-------
1. (U) Three additional members of Congress,including a former Senate president, were arrestedfor alleged ties to paramilitaries, bringing to 28the total of members jailed in the scandal.Twenty-six others remain under investigation. Keymembers of the GOC coalition are among thosedetained. The arrests triggered calls from some inCongress and the media to revoke Congress and holdearly elections. President Uribe said he opposesrevocation, and Congress continues to function.GOC coalition member Senator Cepeda and oppositionSenator Cristo told us political reformlegislation, which would penalize parties with aloss of seats for ties to illegal groups, wouldhelp address structural problems as the Courts andprosecutors continue their investigations. END
 
SUMMARY.
--------------------------------HIGH-PROFILE ARRESTS IN CONGRESS--------------------------------
¶2. (U) Three more members of Congress, including aformer Senate president, were arrested for allegedties to paramilitaries on March 31, bringing thetotal number of Congressmen jailed in the scandalto 28. Twenty-six more members are underinvestigation. A majority of those involved arefrom the governing coalition, but six oppositionLiberal Party members have also been implicated.Four members of Congress have been convicted orplead guilty to aggravated conspiracy charges,receiving sentences of four to six years in prison.Representative Jose de los Santos Negrette wasjailed and later released for lack of evidence. Heis back in Congress. In comparison, 26 members ofCongress were jailed in the 1990s for ties tonarcotraffickers during the "Proceso 8000"investigation.3. (U) The growing number of Congressmenimplicated undermines the institution's credibilityand raises doubts about its ability to do its job.Newly arrested Congressmen include former Senatepresident Senator Miguel Pinedo and oppositionLiberal Party Senator Luis Velasco. The SupremeCourt also recently ordered the arrest of anotherformer Senate president and whip for key GOClegislation, Senator Luis Gomez Gallo of thegoverning coalition Conservative Party, and Cambio
 
Senator Reuben Dario Quintero. Pinedo was one ofthe most experienced deal makers in Congress andwas widely liked on both sides of the aisle. BothVelasco and Quintero were members of the powerfulFirst Commission of the Senate, responsible forconstitutional issues, including consideration of apossible third term for Uribe.
-----------------------------------------SOME CALL FOR NEW CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS-----------------------------------------
¶4. (U) The increasing reach of the scandal hasgenerated calls in the media and political circlesto revoke the mandate of the Congress and holdearly elections. U Party Senator Gina Parodycalled for the Congress to be dissolved to "re-legitimize" the institution, since some replacementmembers arrived having garnered only 4000 votes.The Conservative Party newspaper Nuevo Siglo urgedUribe to revive his earlier proposal to changeColombia's bicameral legislature to a unicameralsystem. Many on the left and in the mediaquestioned whether the Congress would be able tofunction with 20 percent of its members either injail or under investigation for para ties.¶5. (C) Revoking Congress would be a complex andlengthy process requiring constitutional change,and many consider the calls for revocationunrealistic. Any effort to revoke Congress andhold early elections would require a referendum,constituent assembly, or bill modifying theconstitution--all would have to pass through the

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