Colombia Formalizes Criminal Charges Against Uribe

One of the serious charges he faces is that he bribed former paramilitaries huge amounts of money to testify that Uribe was not involved in the death squad known as ‘Bloque Metro’.

Colombia’s Supreme Court announced that they are formally filing criminal charges against former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe for bribery and fraud. The court made the decision late Tuesday evening after Uribe had completed his first day in court.

RELATED: Colombia: Uribe Bribed Witness to Testify for Him

The court ruling represents an intensification of Uribes legal troubles, as they are no longer just an ‘investigation’.

The move is supported by more than 78 percent of Colombians according to a new poll, the results of which will be bad news for Uribe’s ally, President Ivan Duque, who has expressed his backing for the controversial ex-president. 

Among the charges he must answer to is that he paid for f,alse testimonies to “politically finish off” left-wing lawmaker Ivan Cepeda, who had been exposing his links to paramilitarizm. Congress threw out the case against Cepeda and pursued an inquiry into Uribe instead.

Another one of the serious charges he faces is that he bribed former paramilitaries huge amounts to testify that Uribe was not involved in the death squad known as ‘Bloque Metro’.

Uribe is one of Colombia’s most divisive figures and a close ally of George W Bush. He has come to represent the far-right paramilitarism of Colombia’s long civil war, whose end with the 2016 peace accords he opposed. This was reflected during the trial as his supporters and counter protests faced off outside the courthouse.

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Colombia’s Uribe appears at Supreme Court on multiple charges

Bogota, October 9 (RHC)-- Colombia’s former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe made an appearance before Colombia’s Supreme court on Tuesday, facing 14 charges, including human rights abuses, fraud and tampering with a witness.

The court will have 10 days to determine whether or not to press on with the investigation.

Investigations into Uribe’s connection to the right-wing death squad Bloque Metro took an unexpected turn against him when it emerged that he was bribing a former member for favourable testimony.

Colombian newspaper El Tiempo confirmed the validity of claims made by former paramilitary ‘Victor’ that Uribe’s lawyers had paid him over half a million dollars, along with other payments, for favorable testimony.

‘Victor’ is a former paramilitary with Bloque Metro, a right-wing death squad that Uribe is alleged to have helped create.  It is reported that Victor was supposed to testify that one Alberto Guerrero had never been part of the group.  This was needed because Guerrero is who first exposed Uribe’s role in the death squad.  In an exclusive interview with teleSUR in 2013, Guerrero outlined in detail Uribe’s links to his former group.

Also among the allegations against him is that he paid for false testimonies to “politically finish off” left-wing lawmaker Ivan Cepeda. Congress threw out the case against Cepeda and pursued an inquiry into Uribe instead.

Uribe is the poster-boy of right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia.  He cooperated closely with the U.S. under ‘Plan Colombia’ to intensify the country’s civil war.  Today, he opposes the 2016 peace accords signed by the state and the FARC.  He recently called on his ally President Ivan Duque to scrap the agreement.

Edited by Ed Newman
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FARC party told world diplomats about problems in peace process

FARC (People's Revolutionary Alternative Force Party) President Rodrigo Londoño (Timochenko), Senators Julián Gallo, Griselda Lobo, Israel Zúñiga, Counselor Rodrigo Granda and Advisor Diego Martínez met with the ambassadors of the European Union, the Apostolic Nuncio, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, United Kingdom, donor countries and the Guarantor countries: Cuba and Norway.

The meeting took place at the headquarters of the Second United Nations Mission in Colombia and FARC executives were able to present their views and concerns about the critical state of the Peace Process and the dangers that loom over it, due to delays in implementation.

Such implementation, said the FARC executives, should have been "integral and harmonious in all the points agreed in Havana: the relative advances in reincorporation of former guerrillas, the short take off of the Land issue, lack of electoral guarantees, the murders of FARC members, as well as social leaders, the non respect of the economic commitments demanded by the implementation."

The FARC accused the government of "having a double discourse as it talks about its commitment to peace, but this talk is not reflected in practical results in the territories, where the presence of the State is Almost exclusively military."

The members of the FARC party answered some concerns and questions, while the diplomats pledged to continue supporting and accompanying the peace process, to make efforts in investment in productive projects in communities and to visit the Territorial Spaces where former guerrillas are living and trying to set up a new life.

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Colombian politician Alvaro Uribe called a murderer at every campaign stop

Bogota, September 27 (RHC)-- The former far-right president of Colombia Alvaro Uribe has been touring the country for the upcoming regional elections, and being greeted in every locality by huge rallies at which he is called a ‘murderer’ and told ‘no more Uribe’.  The most recent one was in Antioquia, formerly one of Uribe’s bastions.  

Former President Uribe is currently on trial for charges that include involvement in a right-wing death squad called Bloque Metro.  Trial is ongoing, and in response, protesters have been attacking him as he tours the country in support of right-wing candidates at the upcoming regional elections.  In Marinilla, Uribe replied to protesters, shouting that they are echoing what Hugo Chavez used to say about him.  

The trial took an unfortunate turn for the former president in early September. The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo confirmed the validity of claims made by former paramilitary ‘Victor’ that Uribe’s lawyers had paid him over half a million dollars, along with other payments, for favorable testimony.  Victor is one of only two known surviving members of the paramilitary group that Uribe stands accused of having founded. 

Uribe is the figurehead of right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia.  He cooperated closely with the U.S. under ‘Plan Colombia’ to intensify the country’s civil war.  Today, he opposes the 2016 peace accords signed by the state and the FARC.  He recently called on his ally President Ivan Duque to scrap the agreement.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Driving to Colombia? New photos show Juan Guaido in car with ‘drug cartel gangster’

A Venezuelan official has published photos that he says are further proof of ties between the country’s self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and a drug cartel member, who allegedly helped him sneak into Colombia.

In January, Guaido declared himself the rightful head of state in Venezuela and has since made several failed attempts to actually seize power in the Latin American nation, with Washington backing the effort. During one of them in February, he traveled to neighboring Colombia to attend a concert and lead a column of trucks containing US-provided ‘humanitarian aid,’ which was ultimately stopped by Venezuelan border guards.

Last week, a Colombian NGO published photos showing the would-be president and two other people, who were identified as members of Los Rastrojos, a paramilitary criminal organization operating on the border between Venezuela and Colombia. It was alleged that Guaido had crossed the border with the help of the gangsters.

On Thursday, more photos apparently confirming the theory were published in Venezuela. One shows a smiling Guaido hugging a bulky man identified as Jonathan Orlando Zambrano Garcia, aka ‘Patron Pobre,’ a Los Rastrojos mid-tier commander. He was driving Guaido, who could be seen sticking out of an open door of the car.

Guaido’s clothes in the photos are the same that he wore during his trip to Colombia in February. The images were first revealed by ‘Con el Mazo Dando,’ a TV program hosted by Diosdado Cabello, an influential Venezuelan MP.

Cabello also reported that Los Rastrojos had tried to kill a man known as ‘El Menor,’ one of the two cartel members shown alongside Guaido in photos that emerged last week. He said that assassins had failed to find him and instead killed his parents and two other family members in what he called an obvious attempt to cover up the scandal.

After the initial allegation emerged, Guaido denied that he had received any help from Los Rastrojos and said the two members were among hundreds of people with whom he posed for selfies after crossing the border. Colombian authorities, who support Guaido’s claim in Venezuela, confirmed that the two individuals were members of the organization, but said that the opposition leader was not accompanied by any criminal during his visit to the country.

The ties between the man in the new pictures and Los Rastrojos, however, are less clear. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, Colombian border guards don’t believe him to be part of the criminal organization.

Los Rastrojos are one of several paramilitary groups operating in the border area. They are involved in various crimes including illegal mining, racketeering, trafficking of drugs and gasoline, kidnappings and assassinations.

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Venezuela Sends 3,000 Soldiers To Colombian Border

Venezuela deployed more than 3,000 troops to its Colombian border on Thursday after the South American nation declared an orange alert.

“More than 3,000 men and women from the FANB (National Bolivarian Armed Forces) are in perfect operational readiness along the Colombian border,” said government representative Freddy Bernal in a statement, according to Cuban state news agency Prensa Latina.

On Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro government declared the orange alert at Colombian border due to the ”threat of military aggression” from the neighboring country.

“It’s just one more tension,” Bernal evaluated on the current relations between two countries and added: “We won’t reach any kind of conflict.”

Maduro also announced Wednesday a military exercise called “Peace and Sovereignty” to begin on Sept. 10 until Sept. 28 throughout the western border of the country.

“It is an exercise for peace, for Venezuela to be respected. To say that we are not willing to be a colony (…) we have the highest quality technological anti-missile system in Latin America, that we have already deployed and in due course details will be given about this exercise,” Bernal said.

“Colombia does not attack anyone, this is a country that always respects the territorial integrity of other nations,” President Ivan Duque told reporters for his part.

Venezuela’s relations with neighboring Colombia has been undergoing a new phase of deterioration after the former second in command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced the rebel group’s rearmament in a video message last week.

Duque blamed Maduro administration for the sudden reappearance of FARC.

In July, Maduro praised former leaders of FARC Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich, saying that two “are welcome in Venezuela” and called them “leaders of peace.”

Colombia and FARC reached a peace deal in November 2016, ending more than 50 years of conflict between the two sides.

Duque threw his support behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido after the South American nation has been embroiled in political unrest as Maduro and Guaido engage in a power battle at the beginning of 2019.

Colombia also participated in the failed U.S. aid mission to bring truckloads of supplies from Cucuta, Colombia to Venezuela.

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Colombia creates FARC taskforce after ex-commanders call on rebels to pick up arms & resume fighting

Colombian President Ivan Duque has announced the creation of a “special unit” devoted to the capture of former FARC militants, who recently called for renewed fighting with the government, threatening to revive a 50 year conflict.

Appearing in a video posted online on Thursday, a former FARC commander – known by his pseudonym, Ivan Marquez – urged for a “new era of struggle” in Colombia, three years after the guerrilla faction laid down its arms in a historic peace deal with the government, which the Marquez accused Bogota of failing to uphold.

Also on FARC rebels exchange weapons for words in historic Colombian election (VIDEO)...

The president responded with a video of his own later on Thursday afternoon, announcing the launch of a new unit and offering a cash reward for information that leads to the former commander's arrest.

“I ordered the creation of a special unit for the persecution of criminals that appear in the video together with 'Iván Márquez',” the president said. “For each of these criminals a reward of $3 billion [Colombian pesos, or $861,000 USD] will be set for information that leads to their capture.”

Duque stressed, however, that the government remains committed to peace with FARC members who have participated in the reconciliation process and who have renounced all armed activity.

In another press conference on Thursday, Colombian High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos accused the ex-commanders of filming the video from Venezuelan territory, arguing there was “clear support of the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro,” though he provided no evidence for the assertion.

Self-declared “interim president” of Venezuela Juan Guaido also weighed into the matter in a pair of tweets, stating he’d spoken with Duque and denounced “the use of Venezuelan territory under the protection of Maduro” to spread the message of “narcoterrorism.”

Also on Colombia & FARC shake on historic peace deal after 52 years of CIA-funded war...

The previous conflict with FARC – or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – raged on for over 50 years, taking some 220,000 lives, according to government figures. The Marxist guerrilla faction and the government finally reached a peace deal in 2016, and many members of the armed group have since taken part in Colombia's democratic process.

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U.S. opens Venezuelan diplomatic office in Colombian capital

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Wednesday opened a representative office for Venezuela in Bogota, Colombia, and said it will continue its opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and support for opposition leader Juan Guaido from there.

The Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) will be headed by James Story, the U.S. charge d’affaires to Venezuela, who was among the last American diplomats withdrawn from the U.S. embassy in Caracas in March as conditions deteriorated in the country.

“The VAU will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people,” the department said in a statement.

Washington has been trying to cut off money to Maduro’s government in an economic and diplomatic campaign aimed at pressuring the socialist leader to step down.

The United States and most Western nations support Guaido, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s legitimate president. Maduro has accused Guaido of mounting a U.S.-directed coup attempt earlier this year.

In Caracas on Wednesday, Guaido announced the appointment of four new ministers for foreign relations, economic affairs, asset protection and human rights. The majority of them are out of the country due to legal measures from Maduro’s government.

Leopoldo López, founder and leader of Guaido’s Volutad Popular political party, will be coordinating the new ministers. López has been in the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas since May after ending his house arrest.

The new team is intended “to address the complex humanitarian emergency ... and, of course, to prepare for the transition of government,” Guaido said.

More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia in recent years, fleeing the deep political and economic crisis that has caused long-running shortages of food and medicines.

Colombia has borne the brunt of mass migration from its neighbor.

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