The Washington Post | 5/24/2010 12:00:00 AM
Colombian president's brother said to have lead death squads
May 24--Colombian President Álvaro Uribe will leave office in August having largely succeeded in winning control of once-lawless swaths of countryside from Marxist rebels, an accomplishment partly made possible by more than $6 billion in U.S. aid.
Now a former police major, Juan Carlos Meneses, has alleged that Uribe's younger brother, Santiago Uribe, led a fearsome paramilitary group in the 1990s in this northern town that killed petty thieves, guerrilla sympathizers and suspected subversives. In an interview with The Washington Post, Meneses said the group's hit men trained at La Carolina, where the Uribe family ran an agro-business in the early 1990s.
The revelations threaten to renew a criminal investigation against Santiago Uribe and raise new questions about the president's past in a region where private militias funded with drug-trafficking proceeds and supported by cattlemen wreaked havoc in the 1990s. The disclosures could prove uncomfortable to the United States, which has long seen Uribe as a trusted caretaker of American money in the fight against armed groups and the cocaine trade.
"This is what we have been hoping for -- that something like this could come out, and we could show what these paramilitary groups were," said María Eugenia López. She said five of her relatives were killed by paramilitaries based in Yarumal in 1990.
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