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Cable 965: The Continuing Influence of the AUC in Colombian Elections

Cable 965: The Continuing Influence of the AUC in Colombian Elections

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Published by Andres
This is a 2006 US embassy report assessing the continuing political influence of the outlawed United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right wing paramilitary group tied to drug trafficking and human rights abuses throughout Colombia.
This is a 2006 US embassy report assessing the continuing political influence of the outlawed United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right wing paramilitary group tied to drug trafficking and human rights abuses throughout Colombia.

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Published by: Andres on Jul 02, 2012
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08/04/2014

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P 112209Z APR 06FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4071C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 003258SUBJECT: JURY STILL OUT ON PARAMILITARY INFLUENCEIN MARCH 12 ELECTIONS AND NEXT CONGRESS
REF: A. BOGOTA 2658B. BOGOTA 2295C. 05 BOGOTA 5619Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, Reasons:1.4 B & D.¶1. (C) Summary: Opinions continue to vary on thepotential of paramilitary influence in the Congressfollowing the March 12 elections. Somecommentators point to the defeat of the three mostblatantly pro-AUC members of Congress (MOCs) asevidence of the erosion of para politicalinfluence. The Director of the Department ofAdministrative Security (DAS) estimates that 13individuals directly linked to the AUC attainedCongressional seats (out of 268 total seats).Nevertheless, the picture remains blurry. Severalsitting MOCs expelled from two major pro-Uribeparties for alleged AUC ties were reelected. Foursmaller parties (two publicly pro-Uribe) generallyviewed as "sympathetic" to para interests attained1.25 million votes for Senate. Vicente Castano'sstatement that the AUC controlled of 35 percent of
 
this Congress was never really accurate, and shouldnot be used for comparison (see Ref C). Oncemunicipal level numbers are available, we willprovide additional observations, including theprevalence of extremely high votes for onecandidate (a possible sign of vote coercion and/orbuying). End Summary.
------------------- ARGUING FOR DECLINE-------------------
¶2. (C) Numerous commentators and national presshave stated that the level of AUC influence in thenext Congress (taking office July 20) will decline,as the three vocally pro-AUC MOCs -- Carlos Morenode Caro, Rocio Arias, and Eleonora Pineda -- failedto win reelection (or, in the case of Arias, movefrom House to Senate). In addition, ConservativeRep. Muriel Benitorebollo of conflictive SucreDepartment, subject of numerous accusations of AUCties in major media and reportedly in the sights ofthe Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia), wasdefeated.¶3. (C) Department of Administrative Security(DAS, rough FBI equivalent) Director Andres Penatetold PolCouns that his institution considered 50Congressional candidates (out of some 2700 total)as directly linked to the AUC, FARC, ornarcotraffickers (but predominantly the former).Of those 50, according to Penate, 17 were elected,with 13 linked to the AUC. Penate offered threecriteria for DAS determination of ties to illegal
 
armed groups:--Financing of campaigns (HUMINT sources);--Secret meetings/encounters (limited to unusualtimes, say after midnight); and/or--Direct solicitation of votes via bribery orintimidation.Penate said DAS investigations found that all threegroups tended to target MOCs for business reasons(almost like a "business plan") or when they movefrom the House to the Senate and require additionalresources for a national campaign.
----------- AND YET ...-----------
¶4. (C) Others note that Moreno de Caro and Arias,who ran under the former's party label (Let MorenoPlay), fared reasonably well with the electorate,attaining roughly 145,000 votes nationwide, enoughvotes to have gained a seat if they had beenaffiliated with a party that met vote thresholdrequirements. In addition, four of the fiveindividuals (Sens. Habib Merheg, Dieb Maloof, andLuis Carlos Vives, and Rep. Jorge Caballero)expelled from the pro-Uribe National Unity (U) andRadical Change (CR) parties for alleged AUC tiesattained seats. Hector Lopez, son of jailed AUC-linked lottery baroness "La Gata," easily won aHouse seat from Bolivar Department under thelittle-known "Liberal Opening" party banner.

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