March 19, 2002
Narco News '02
Uribe's Rise from Medellín:
Precursor to a Narco-State
Campaign Manager, the DEA,
the Case of the 50,000 Kilos
By Al Giordano
A Narco News Investigative Report
I in a Series
Part II, Click Here
1997 and 1998, alert U.S. Customs agents
in California seized three suspicious Colombia-bound ships that,
the agents discovered, were laden with 50,000 kilos of potassium
permanganate, a key "precursor chemical" necessary
for the manufacture of cocaine.
According to a document signed by then-DEA
chief Donnie R. Marshall on August 3, 2001, the ships were each
destined for Medellín, Colombia, to a company called GMP
Productos Quimicos, S. A. (GMP Chemical Products).
The 50,000 kilos of the precursor chemical
destined for GMP were enough to make half-a-million kilos of
cocaine hydrochloride, with a street value of $15 billion U.S.
The owner of GMP Chemical Products, according
to the 2001 DEA chief's report, is Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, the
campaign manager, former chief of staff, and longtime right-hand-man
for front-running Colombian presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe
Mr. Moreno was Uribe's political alter-ego
before, during and after those nervous 1997 and 1998 months when
he awaited those contraband shipments.
When Uribe was governor of the state of
Antioquia from 1995 to 1997 - from its capitol of Medellín
- Moreno was chief of staff in Governor Uribe's office. During
those years, according to then-DEA chief Marshall, ""Between
1994 and 1998, GMP was the largest importer of potassium permanganate
This is the story of the Narco-Candidate,
Alvaro Uribe, whose 1982 election as mayor of Medellín,
whose 1995 election as governor of Antioquia and whose pending
ascendance this year to the presidency of Colombia each mark
new chapters in the evolution of the modern Narco-State.
Three ships set sail for Medellín,
and in their wake, the facts
Oakland and Long Beach
November 17, 1997, a Chinese ship carrying
20,000 kilos of potassium permanganate - the aforementioned cocaine
precursor chemical - destined for Moreno's GMP company in Colombia,
pulled into the docks at Long Beach, California.
A month later, on December 16, 1997, another
Chinese ship, docked in Oakland, also destined for the Uribe
campaign manager's company in Medellín, carried another
20,000 kilos of the cocaine precursor chemical.
And, like clockwork, one month after that,
on January 17, 1998, a third ship stopped in Long Beach on its
way to Moreno's GMP, this one carrying 10,000 kilos of the controlled
"The United States Customs Service
(USCS) seized each of these shipments as they transited the ports
in California," noted DEA chief Marshall. "No advance
notice was filed with DEA that these shipments would be sent
from Hong Kong, through the United States, to Colombia."
According to a U.S. law titled 21 U.S.C.
971(a), "each regulated person who imports or exports a
listed chemical to or from the United States is required to file
advance notification of the importation or exportation not later
than 15 days before the transaction is to take place."
The matter of cocaine precursor chemicals,
and potassium permanganate in particular, is no small matter
to law enforcers.
As Colombia's current president, Andrés
Pastrana, noted in a press release on October 25, 1999: "Without
the coca plant, there is no cocaine, but without acetone, ether
and permanganate, it is impossible to have drugs. A good part
of these precursors come from Europe and are dumped into our
rivers and our land, which produces part of the world's oxygen."
Oxygen, like that which Pastrana gave
Uribe and Moreno this week, when the president's Conservative
party - destroyed in the recent Colombian congressional elections,
precisely because of Pastrana's support for the US military adventure
known as Plan Colombia - folded its tent, abandoned its own presidential
candidate, and threw its support to the Narco-Candidate Uribe.
as the coca plant does not grow in the North American mainland, permanganate is not produced in South America.
Cocaine as we know it would not be possible without this U.S.,
European and Chinese export chemical.
For the cocaine processing labs in the
Amazon jungle, permanganate is harder to obtain, and thus more
vital than even to coca leaf for the production of cocaine.
Normally, when U.S. officials seize a
massive quantity of a controlled substance, the press and TV
cameras are called and grand proclamations are made about the
"record seizures" and "victory" in the war
But the political problems caused by these
seizures in California caused the usually boastful U.S. authorities
to refrain from their usual media blitz.
Contrast that with the government press
releases customarily aimed at U.S. companies that fail -- as
the Uribe campaign manager's company did in '97 and '98 -- to
notify the DEA of shipments of permanganate. United States companies
caught violating the same laws have paid a steep legal price.
The Connecticut-based chemical firm MacDermid
Inc., according to the January 14, 2000 edition of the Hartford
Courant, paid $50,000 dollars to the federal government "to
settle a claim involving the export of a chemical that can be
used to synthesize cocaine, the U.S. attorney's office said Thursday."
The $50,000 fine was paid, according to
the Courant, because "the company failed to notify
the government in advance that it was going to export more than
500 kilograms per month of potassium permanganate."
"MacDermid sold the chemical to legitimate
buyers," reported the daily Courant. "The government
says its only lapse was a failure to make a necessary notification
of its export sales."
In other words, for failing to alert the
DEA that it would make shipments of 500 kilos of the cocaine
precursor chemical - one percent of the 50,000 kilos destined
for Moreno's company in Colombia - the Connecticut company had
to pay $50,000. (That fine, if applied equally to Moreno's 50,000
kilos, would have added up to $5 million U.S. dollars.)
Moreno's company, by contrast, was not
fined a single devalued Colombian peso by the United States government
for those 50,000 unreported kilos of the cocaine precursor.
Still, U.S. authorities, tangled in the
crisis caused by the seizures of contraband belonging to a political
ally of Washington, after three years of tossing this hot potato
around, determined not to release the stash.
The Customs Service, the DEA and other
U.S. law enforcement agencies were caught in a public relations
disaster. Their agents did their job. And the bureaucrats in
Washington spent more than three years trying to cover it up.
To apply the law equally to Moreno's GMP
Chemical Products company - as the Justice Department did with
the Connecticut firm's legal lapse - would have unleashed a chain
of events very embarrassing to Moreno and, consequently, to the
1995-97 governor of the Colombian state of Antioquia: Alvaro
Uribe Vélez, a longtime U.S. point-man in Colombia.
But to apply the law equally would have
caused headlines that interfered with Washington's electoral
plans for Colombia, which have been executed to weaken all other
potential candidates (those that are still alive or not in captivity)
and install Uribe as the next Colombian president in the May
Uribe is their man.
chief Donnie Marshall wrote, in a legal
decision, about the seizure of the contraband headed toward Uribe's
campaign manager, and his company, GMP:
"The Order to Suspend
Shipment stated that DEA believed that the listed chemical may
be diverted based on the failure to notify DEA of the transshipment
in violation of 21 CFR 1313.31; associations between GMP and
other violating chemical companies in Colombia; and other diversionary
practices of GMP."
But Marshall, Bill Clinton's DEA chief,
had a big headache. The eagle-eyed Customs officers in Long Beach
and Oakland perhaps were not aware yet that they had stepped
on the wrong narco-toes: three ships whose voyage was not meant
to be interrupted.
Donnie Marshall, the DEA boss, explained
"GMP is a company
founded in 1938 that distributes chemical products, with four
locations throughout Colombia, South America. Its president,
Pedro Juan Moreno Villa (Mr. Moreno), has served on the board
of directors of other companies in Colombia. In addition, from
1995 through 1997, Mr. Moreno served as the Secretary of the
Government of Antioquia."
That state government, it bears repeating,
belonged to Governor Alvaro Uribe, the current presidential heir
apparent in Colombia, whose path to Colombia's highest office
began in the City of Medellín, in 1982, when its unofficial
mayor, Pablo Escobar, the most notorious drug trafficker in human
history, was the undisputed King of the City: Nothing happened
in Medellín, in 1982, without Escobar's permission. One
of the things that did happen, was that Alvaro Uribe became its
official mayor, and from there toiled in the laboratory of the
"An extensive security investigation
of Mr. Moreno was conducted for this position" in Uribe's
administration, wrote the DEA chief. "During his tenure,
Mr. Moreno supported the Govenor's goal to fight narcotics traffic.
According to Mr. Moreno, his life was endangered because of his
duties against drug traffickers and guerillas, resulting in his
taking extensive security precautions."
The security precautions taken by Governor
Uribe's chief secretary Moreno, though, were apparently not sufficient
to keep three of his unreported shipments from being seized on
the California coast.
Honest Customs and DEA agents saw their
own life-endangering actions subverted and sabotaged by the suits
in Washington. The permanganate traffickers - not content to
be on the road to the Colombian presidency, but wanting to collect
their tips, too - fought from early 1998 until mid-2001, in a
case before DEA administrative law judge Gail Randall, to avoid
legal penalties and to get their 50,000 kilos back.
"No advance notice of these shipments
was provided to DEA by GMP or any other party," wrote DEA
chief Marshall. "However, there is a dispute over whether
such advance notice was required for these shipments."
It was that greed on the part of the cocaine
precursor traffickers that now has led to this trail of paper,
and that forced Donnie Marshall to make these words a part of
the public record.
Perhaps because he was at the end of his
term, or perhaps because his own troops - the DEA agents - were
already furious with the bureaucratic cover-ups regarding these
seizures, or, perhaps because Donnie Marshall wanted to do something
right before his legacy at DEA came to an end, Marshall rejected
the non-binding recommendation of the administrative law judge,
and ordered the 50,000 kilos permanently seized.
Marshall, the administrator, ruled:
finds that based upon the evidence in the record, Colombia produces
between 70-80% of the world's cocaine hydrochloride. Potassium
permanganate and hydrochloric acid are List II chemicals that
may be used for a variety of legitimate purposes, but are also
used in the illicit manufacture of cocaine. Potassium permanganate
is not produced in South America and therefore must be imported
"Between 1994 and
1998, GMP was the largest importer of potassium permanganate
into Colombia. Since approximately 1994, GMP conducted business
with Eland, a Hong Kong company. From 1996 through 1998, Eland's
sale of potassium permanganate to GMP had become consistent,
with Eland selling GMP in excess of 200 metric tons during that
Kind reader, click your calculator. One
kilo of potassium permanganate makes 10 kilos of cocaine. GMP's
excess of 200 metric tons was sufficient to make 2,000 metric
tons of cocaine hydrochloride.
A key fact, though, upon which the Narco-State
is built, should be kept in mind: There are other, legal, uses
for potassium permanganate, such as to manufacture printed circuit
boards and other hi-tech playthings that are not exactly staples
of the Colombian economy. This is one of the key loopholes through
which the $500 billion dollar-a-year illicit drug industry glides.
Likewise, there are other uses for the
humble coca leaf, too. But the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia calls
legal coca farmers "terrorists." In Colombia and Ecuador,
U.S. helicopters and airplanes spray toxic herbicides over those
farmers. Given the central importance of potassium permanganate
to cocaine manufacturing, Andean peasants would be as justified
in sending those choppers and airplanes to Oakland and Long Beach
harbors to blow up the ships. The double standards, and selective
enforcement, by U.S. officials have eternally doomed the "war
DEA chief Donnie Marshall, in one of his final official acts, was clearly troubled by the reports from some
honest Colombian law enforcement agents who found that Moreno's
GMP company leaked permanganate like a sieve, systematically
violating the very safeguards that are meant to keep the precursors
from the hands of narco-traffickers.
DEA chief Marshall reported:
"The Direccion Nacional
de Estupefacientes (DNE) is the Colombia government agency that
issues, revokes, and renews chemical permits for individuals
or companies that handle controlled chemicals. The DNE also establishes
the total quota of controlled chemicals to be imported per month
by permit holders. A company may not import more than its quota
in any given calendar month without the permission of the DNE.
"In general, a DNE
permit is required if an individual or company wants to handle
in excess of five kilograms or five liters of a controlled chemical
per calendar month. Therefore, no permit is required if a person
wishes to purchase less than five kilograms or five liters in
a calendar month."
Regarding the shenanigans at Moreno's
GMP to get around this rule, Marshall wrote:
"The Colombian National
Police (CNP) is the enforcement entity of the DNE, and is authorized
by the DNE to conduct investigations that could result in criminal
or administrative penalties
"On June 10, 1997,
the CNP inspected one of GMP's facilities finding that on nine
occasions between June 3, 1997 and June 6, 1997, GMP had failed
to enter required information into its control logs concerning
the sale of 2,450 kilograms of potassium permanganate
(Again, kind reader, the math: that's
enough precursor to make 24,000 kilos of cocaine, worth about
$24 million dollars in the jungle, and $700 million dollars by
the time the drug enters Los Angeles.)
DEA Chief Marshall continued:
"On December 15,
1997, the CNP inspected GMP and found record keeping discrepancies.
GMP kept its control log tracking its sales and purchases of
controlled chemicals on a computer. GMP was not authorized to
maintain its records in this manner. GMP's general manager at
that time testified that he was confused by this allegation by
the CNP since GMP had been keeping computerized records since
the CNP investigated the addresses and telephone numbers
listed on GMP's seized invoices. This investigation revealed
discrepancies including addresses that did not exist, telephone
numbers that did not match the addresses listed on the invoices,
and telephone numbers that did not exist.
"In addition, the
CNP noted invoices issued on the same date to different named
individuals listing the same address and telephone number. The
invoices each reflected sales of 4.6 kilograms of potassium permanganate,
below the threshold amount. The CNP discovered that the individuals
listed on the invoices had not actually purchased the potassium
permanganate, but their personal identification cards had been
used by their employer to obtain the chemical.
"By letter dated
January 22, 1998, CNP officials concluded that GMP, 'may be guilty
of selling controlled chemical substances, for which purpose
it is using fictitious addresses, names of actual persons and
is making sales of controlled chemicals in amounts greater than
those stipulated by the Office of the National Director of Narcotics
without receiving a license from the D.N.E.'
"Evidence was represented
at the hearing that GMP representatives also investigated the
questioned invoices to determine the identity and location of
the purchasers listed on the invoices. While GMP representatives
were able to locate some of the individuals and companies named
on the invoices, many remained unknown. Many contained fictions
addresses, and in some instances, no addresses were provided
on the invoices
Uribe's campaign manager, Pedro Juan Moreno
Villa, also spoke during the DEA administrative law hearings.
According to DEA chief Marshall, "Mr. Moreno testified that
he was unaware of any GMP controlled chemicals being diverted
to the manufacture of cocaine or any other illicit drug."
To shed some perspective on the value
of potassium permanganate, even before it is converted into cocaine,
the South China News - covering the story from their end
of the pipeline, where the permanganate is manufactured - noted
on October 23, 1999 that the chemical fetched $75 per kilo in
late 1997 (when the first and second of Moreno's GMP-bound shipments
were seized) and that the price then skyrocketed to $280 US dollars
per kilo by 1999.
Thus, the 50,000 seized kilos of Mr. Moreno's
precursor substance were worth $3.7 million dollars when seized,
but within two years grew to a black market value of $14 million
dollars, before they might have even touched a single coca leaf.
common expression in Spanish refers
to "trabajo de hormigas," or "ant's work,"
and it applies to the manner used by Moreno's company to move
large amounts of the cocaine precursor drug through small sales
of volumes just under the five kilo threshold for which buyers
must have a license.
As stated by the DEA: Much of GMP's permanganate
went out the door in small volumes of only 4.6 kilos - enough
to make 46 kilos of cocaine, valued at $30,000 a kilo in Miami,
or $1.38 million dollars per "small" shipment - at
The bottom line is this: coca grows on
trees in Colombia, and most of the battles between military,
paramilitary, police, rebels and the poor farmers - if anyone
hopes to control the coca leaf market - will be waged in vain
for decades to come.
But he who controls the potassium permanganate
market in Colombia - a product that must be imported from continents
far away - truly controls the global traffic of processed cocaine.
The same strict standards set by Moreno's
GMP company will no doubt be applied when Mr. Moreno and Mr.
Uribe - and their customers from the ranks of the narcos and
paramilitary groups - get their mitts on the entire Colombian
military and law enforcement complex, and the $2 billion US dollars
of Plan Colombia.
House that Pablo Built
1982, when Uribe became mayor, his
city of Medellín, capital of Antioquia, was a boomtown.
The Medellín Cartel, with Pablo Escobar as its maximum
leader, was taking the city by storm, constructing public housing
for the poor, paying taxes, stoking Mayor Alvaro Uribe's construction
of a world-class subway system. ("He must explain the much-debated
Metro contract," pleaded columnist Antonio Caballero in
column in the national newsweekly Semana.)
The Liberal Party, through which Uribe
and Escobar rose in the same electoral wave to mayoral and legislative
power, is to Antioquia what the Democratic Party is to Boston:
the entire political show.
But there were serious rifts in the party,
then as now. One group, the New Liberalism movement, led by Luis
Carlos Galán, was horrified by how organized crime had
taken over the party and the City. As globally renowned Colombian
author Gabriel García Márquez wrote in his award-winning
Autumn of a Drug Lord, about the life and death of Pablo
"In 1982 Pablo Escobar had tried
to find a place in the New Liberalism movement headed by Luis
Carlos Galán, but Galán removed his name from the
rolls and exposed him before a crowd of five thousand people
As every law enforcer and scholar of narco-trafficking
knows, not even Galán's courage could stop Escobar.
Pablo Escobar presided over the economic
renaissance of Uribe's Medellín. He built the houses,
the people came, the people voted, and Pablo Escobar got himself
elected to the national Congress.
In an oft neglected history by the journalists
who write of Escobar's legend today, Congressman Escobar traveled
to the United States in 1982, where this photo was taken, of
Pablo and his son, in front of the Reagan-Bush White House, which
would, soon, involve Escobar, with Panamanian President Manuel
Noriega, and the Nicaraguan paramilitaries known as the Contras,
in a cocaine-for-arms deal that coincided with the explosion
of crack on the urban streets of North America.
The daily El Tiempo of Bogotá
captioned that photo: "In 1982, as a member of Congress,
Pablo Escobar traveled to the United States. In the photo he
appears with his son Juan Pablo, in front of the White House."
As cultural critic Jason Manning, author
of The Eighties
"In 1981-82, an alliance
between Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder, Jose Gacha and the Ochoa
family resulted in the formation of the Medellin cartel, which
ran most of the 50 cocaine labs in Colombia. In 1982 Escobar
cut a deal with Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, which allowed
the cartel to ship cocaine through Panama for $100,000 a load.
That same year, Escobar was elected to the Colombian congress;
he bought votes by building low-income housing in the Medellin
1981-1982: Rise of the
The alliance between the Ochoa family,
Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder and Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha
strengthens into what will become known as the "Medellin
Cartel." The traffickers cooperate in the manufacturing,
distribution and marketing of their cocaine.
And, in the PBS Frontline chronology:
March 1982: Pablo Escobar
is elected to the Colombian Congress
an image of "Robin Hood" by building low-income housing,
handing out money in Medellin slums and appearing throughout
the city accompanied by Catholic priests. Escobar is elected
an alternate representative from Envigado, but he's driven out
of Congress in 1983 by Colombia's crusading Minister of Justice,
Rodrigo Lara Bonilla.
García Márquez, author of
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in a Time of Cholera,
and other classics, wrote that Escobar, now a Congressman, "had
not forgotten the insult and unleashed an all-out war against
the state, in particular against the New Liberalism. Rodrigo
Lara Bonilla, who represented the New Liberalism as justice minister
in the Belisario Betancur government, was murdered in a drive-by
shooting on the streets of Bogotá. His successor, Enrique
Parejo, was pursued all the way to Budapest by a hired assassin
who shot him in the face with a pistol but did not kill him.
On August 18, 1989, Luis Carlos Galán, who was protected
by eighteen well-armed bodyguards, was machine-gunned on the
main square in the municipality of Soacha, some ten kilometers
from the presidential palace."
Colombian journalist Alfredo Molano, who
Narco News interviewed in exile in Barcelona in July 2000,
and whose predictions in that interview
about what Plan Colombia would bring have resulted to be, unfortunately,
all too accurate, wrote of Escobar, Medellín, the violent
prevention of the legalized Patriotic Union (UP) and M-19 parties
from being able to participate in free and fair elections in
1990, and the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán, the
last best hope for Colombia, in a September 2000 article for
The NACLA Report.
Authentic journalist Alfredo Molano wrote:
"Meanwhile, the paramilitary
forces had been growing dramatically, in many cases financed
by the head of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar, especially
around the northern region of the Magdalena Medio. With Escobar's
financing and the army's tolerance, paramilitaries began decimating
the leftist UP with impunity. It was during Barco's subsequent
administration that most of the UP's activists were murdered.
The final days of Barco's government were notably violent. Gunmen
assassinated four presidential candidates Carlos Pizarro of the
M-19 (who had just turned in their arms); Jaime Pardo Leal of
the UP, followed closely by his replacement, Bernardo Jaramillo;
and the Liberals' Luis Carlos Galan who would certainly have
won the election."
The chief beneficiary of the assassination
of that courageous man, Galán, "who would certainly
have won the election," is a current backer of the coming
Uribe-Moreno Precursor Narco-Ticket, as Alfredo Molano explained
in his 2000 article:
"Galan was replaced
by Cesar Gaviria, a party hack who had been Minister of Government,
and who was elected president for the term 1990-1994."
César Gaviria, today, is the US-imposed
chief of the Organization of American States, backer of Plan
Colombia, and mentor to key Uribe operative (albeit opportunistically)
Rafael Pardo, who recently won the election as representative
in the Senate of "Colombians Abroad." Gaviria presided
over the big sellout of Colombia's sovereignty to a foreign power
that now has Plan Colombia as its logical - but our guess is,
futile - attempt to put the lid on democracy in Colombia through
Uribe and Moreno, together, were the key
movers behind the paramilitary rise in Antioquia in the mid 1990s.
As Uribe's chief of staff, Moreno had
many responsibilities: Among them, establishing heavily armed
and government-trained vigilantes known as Rural Vigilance Committees
(CONVIVIRs, as they were known, and came to be feared, across
Uribe's province). These vigilante brigades served, according
to Amnesty International and dozens of respected human rights
organizations, as thinly-masked and government-sanctioned boot
camps and recruiting agencies for Colombia's cocaine-soaked paramilitary
violent policies came home to roost last week
with the assassination, in Cali, Colombia, of Archbishop Isaias
The Colombia Support Network said yesterday,
in its statement remembering the fallen archbishop:
was a very fair and generous church leader. He was fundamentally
important in helping CSN establish a sister community relationship
with Apartado, where he was the Bishop before going on to be
the Archbishop of Cali. His nobility of spirit and his commitment
to peace were evident to all of us who had the privilege of meeting
with him and working to establish links to promote social justice
and peace in the region of Apartado. He was respectful and supportive
of all who sought peace and justice, from the Patriotic Union
administrators of the early 1990¹s through the mayoral administration
of Gloria Cuartas, to the international presence which CSN and
others brought to Apartado."
(The Archbishop's friends also report
that hours before his assassination, a priest in his diocese
called Colombian authorities to report suspicious individuals
near the Archbishop and request more security for Father Duarte,
and that the Colombian State did nothing.)
When, in 1997, Governor Uribe sent his
CONVIVIR vigilante troops into the municipality of Apartado,
the aforementioned Mayor Gloria Cuartas wrote the governor a
letter on April 10, 1997, reporting on the disruption to the
peace and tranquility of her town caused by the entrance of the
On behalf of Governor Uribe, his chief
of staff, the GMP Chemical Products company owner Pedro
Juan Moreno Villa, replied to Mayor Cuartas on government stationary,
which provides a glimpse into the attitudes and values with which
Uribe and Moreno governed Antioquia, and may soon govern all
OFFICE OF THE
SECRETARY OF GOVERNMENT
April 17, 1997
Madam GLORIA ISABEL CUARTAS
Mayor, Apartadó, Antioquia
Re: Your message of April
10, 1997, directed to the Governor of Antioquia
Distinguished Madam :
In relation to the mentioned
message, allow me to demonstrate to you the following :
You fall into the same
errors committed by distinguished directors of well-known associations
in defense of human rights, which is to say :"They believe
themselves to be professors of a subject with which they are
not familiar and afterwards they ask for explanations".
Apart from this, your
protagonistic eagerness leads you to spread your message to different
sectors of society, to whom you send your incomplete and deformed
view of the situation.
How much better it would
be if before issuing your verdict you had taken the trouble to
consult, analyze, engage in dialogue, and, once you had formed
your conception, based upon a rational analysis of events, you
had expressed your opinion upon the matter. Perhaps in this way
your collaboration to achieve peace would be more effective.
For your information I
attach the following :
1. A pamphlet illustrative
of the Convivir Associations.
2. A letter of last March
20 sent to Mr. Vivanco of Human Rights Watch, in which you will
find detailed information about all of the topics which trouble
The Commander of the Seventeenth
Brigade, General Rito Alejo del Rio, will be able to provide
you with details about their actions and other doubts which assail
you on this topic.
PEDRO JUAN MORENO VILLA
Secretary of Government
Attached : the mentioned
Copy : Dr. Alvaro Uribe
Governor of Antioquia
CONVIVIR project did turn, as Mayor
Cuartas and many others had predicted, into a Frankenstein monster.
The Uribe-backed brigades went on such a bloody rampage of massacres
against unarmed civilians that they were banned, even in Colombia,
by the end of 1997. Although Colombian courts ordered the return
of the high-tech weaponry provided by the Colombian government
to the Uribe-Moreno vigilantes, (weapons of the class reserved
for exclusive use of the Colombian Armed Forces), few of the
assault rifles made it back to the government.
Uribe's CONVIVIR vigilantes - exactly
as the human rights organizations had warned - simply took their
weapons and joined the ranks of Carlos Castaño's narco-terrorist
units of the so-called Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, or the
The U.S. State Department calls the AUC
a "terrorist organization," even as it now backs its
candidate, Uribe, for president of Colombia.
Business Week recently
reported on the plans of candidate
Alvaro Uribe Vélez to invoke this same paramilitary strategy
on a national scale:
"Uribe Velez claims
that if elected President, he will take a firmer line with the
rebels. That's just what he did between 1995 and 1997 when he
was governor of Antioquia, Colombia's second-largest province
and onetime home to the infamous Medellin drug cartel. There,
Uribe Velez promoted the creation of the controversial Convivirs.
Styled as self-defense patrols, these armed militias supplied
intelligence to the armed forces and helped police combat crime.
"It wasn't long before
some of the local militias, which eventually numbered 67 in Antioquia
and 400 nationwide, morphed into deadly paramilitary squads that
targeted not only guerrillas but also suspected civilian sympathizers.
That led the Colombian government to strip the Convivirs of most
of their power in 1997."
The book, Los
Jinetes de Cocaína (The Horsemen of Cocaine) by
Fabio Castillo, published online by one of the most respected
global human rights organizations, Nizkor, reported:
"Another native of
Antioquia is Senator Alvaro Uribe Vélez - whose father,
Alberto Uribe Sierra, was a known narco-trafficker - who, when
he was director of the Civil Air agency (Alvaro Uribe) gave pilots
licenses to many narcos.
"Uribe (the father)
was arrested once in order to be extradited, but Jesús
Aristizabal Guevara, then government secretary for the City of
Medellín, succeeded in setting him free.
"The funeral of Uribe
Sierra, assassinated near his plantation in Antioquia, was attended
by then-president of the Republic Belisario Betancur, and a good
part of the high society of Antioquia, amidst vocal protests
from those who knew about his connections with cocaine."
The New Colombia News Agency (www.anncol.com),
addressed this issue forthrightly on March 13th, when journalist
Alfredo Castro stated:
"That Uribe's father was a well-known
trafficker in the department of Antioquia before his death in
1983 is, on its own, not sufficient evidence to judge his son."
own actions as a bureaucrat and later
mayor of the City of Medellín, as the governor of the
State of Antioquia - where his government secretary (chief of
staff, in US terms) Pedro Juan Moreno Villa executed Uribe's
paramilitary strategy with grave consequences for the unprotected
public - and his campaign manager's simultaneous control over
the cocaine precursor chemical industry that thus controls the
cocaine industry, indicate what kind of government the US-backed
Uribe will lead if successful in the May 26th presidential elections.
The polls indicate that, if the election
were held today, Uribe would win, if only because so many other
candidates and potential candidates have been assassinated, kidnapped
or neutralized as a direct result of US policy to aggravate Colombia's
The New Colombia News Agency reported
on Uribe's record "as mayor of Medellin in the early
1980s when the city was known as 'The Sanctuary' due to the complete
protection that the traffickers enjoyed from the city administration."
"At this time, Uribe
was involved in at least two city projects in which Pablo Escobar
himself was also deeply involved: One, the construction of a
neighbourhood for poor people known as 'Medellin sin Tugurios'
('Medellin without Slums') and, the other, a civic program that
aimed to plant thousands of trees in the city.
"Pablo Escobar financed
both projects in an attempt to improve his public image and Uribe
publicly supported both efforts. Indeed, Uribe even opened the
new neighbourhood when it was completed despite the fact that
most of the positive press coverage actually went to Escobar."
Another journalist to tackle the issues
that the United States press, so far, fails to address, was El
Espectador columnist Fernando Garavito, in a February column.
New Colombia News Agency cites him, reporting:
out that during the time that Uribe was director of Colombia's
Civil Aeronautics agency (1980-1982) numerous pilot licenses
were handed over to the Medellin drug cartel - allowing their
pilots to fly huge quantities of cocaine out of Colombia and
towards or into the United States. Indeed Uribe was allegedly
sacked as director for this misdemeanour."
"Thirdly," reports New Colombia
News Agency, "was Uribe's performance as a senator between
1986 and 1994 when he consistently supported legislation that
the drug cartels supported and consistently opposed that which
they opposed. The best example of this, and the one the both
Garavito and Castillo gave, was Uribe's vehement opposition to
a plan before the Colombian Congress to hold a public referendum
on whether or not to allow the courts to extradite drug traffickers
to the United States - a plan that the cartels were violently
opposed to and which Uribe, using his position as senator, did
his best to sabotage.
Boats from China
Uribe wins the presidency, the documents
on file in the DEA administrative law case against the company
of Uribe's campaign manager, chief of staff, and right hand man,
Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, will haunt his presidency from his first
day in office.
"DEA would not suspend a shipment
solely on the basis that no advance notice was filed," explained
DEA chief Donnie Marshall in his August 3, 2001 report. "There
would need to be evidence that the chemicals may be diverted
to the clandestine manufacturer of a controlled substance."
"Accordingly," concluded the
top drug enforcer in the United States in August of 2001, "the
Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, pursuant
to the authority vested in him by 21 U.S.C. 971 and 28 CFR 0.100(b),
hereby orders that the suspensions of the above described shipments,
be, and they hereby are, sustained, and that these proceedings
are hereby concluded. This final order is effective immediately."
The docket number, for the inquiring reporters
among our readers, of the DEA administrative law case, is:
FR Doc. 00-21482
The case file is open to inspection by
the public and the press.
DEA chief Donnie Marshall's ruling is
available online, at the U.S. Department of Justice website:
The seized precursor chemicals - enough
to manufacture one half-million kilos of cocaine, with a street
value of $15 billion dollars - never made it to Moreno's warehouses
But, according to the DEA, 200 metric
tons were sold by Moreno's company at the very time that he was
Governor Uribe's chief of staff in Antioquia.
Whether the Precursor Candidate, Alvaro
Uribe, and his alchemist Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, make it to
the Presidency remains to be seen. If so, all América
- indeed the world - will see the US-backed Narco-State, caked
in white powder, a government without credibility at ground zero
of the war on drugs.
The narco-candidacy may be destined to
win an election that is already neither fair nor free. But the
narco-presidency that follows will be grounded at the docks from
Perhaps that is Washington's intent. It
would not be the first time that United States officials backed
a presidential candidate in Latin America who, once elected,
could be easily blackmailed and controlled due to his narco-history
and documents on file in Washington DC: Pinochet, Noriega, Salinas,
Zedillo, Menem, Banzer, Fujimori... and now, Alvaro Uribe.
There are ten weeks until the May 26,
2002 presidential vote in Colombia, as the permanganate hits
on the drug war from Latin America.
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