Colombian militia chief: the army helped found us

The Colombian paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso has gone on the record to show how the Colombian armed forces set up the right-wing paramilitary forces in the late 1980s, reports Colombia’s El Tiempo.

Speaking to judges as part of his demobilisation proceedings under Colombia’s Peace and Justice Law, the paramilitary chief said detailed some of the crucial support they were given in their early years.

In particular, Mancuso mentioned the aid given by Major Walter Fratini of the Junin Batallion of the 11th. This included both light and heavy arms and, crucially, safe conduct passes.

Monitoring organisations, such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have repeatedly shown strong links between the army and paramilitaries. However, such a frank admission from a senior paramilitary is rare.

Mancuso was a former leader of the Catatumbo Bloc paramilitary group. His confession follows the arrest and investigation of several high ranking political figures from parties that support the President of Colombia.

Despite the repeated human rights abuses of the UK still provides secret training and aid to the Colombian armed forces.

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