On August 20, 2012, retired general Mauricio Santoyo, former security chief for ex-president Álvaro Uribe, pled guilty to having helped the paramilitary organization United Self-Defense of Colombia (Spanish acronym AUC). Santoyo entered his plea before the Eastern District Court of Virginia in the United States, where he has been extradited for ties to drug trafficking. His admission has created a political scandal in Colombia.
Santoyo had also served as commander of GAULA (Unified Action Groups for Personal Liberty) in Medellín, and he carried the rank of colonel when Álvaro Uribe was governor of Antioquia. The Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez later dismissed Santoyo from office for forging the signatures of prosecutors on requests to judges for wiretaps. However, Santoyo was reinstated to his position after an appeal to the State Council, and in 2007, Congress promoted him to general.
Consequently, Uribe has been questioned [es] by leftist political groups and by several journalists, who accuse him of having a hand in the promotion of Santoyo to general. Ex-president Uribe, however, maintains his ignorance about any ties between the former official and paramilitary groups, and denies having influenced his political appointments or promotions. Furthermore, Uribe's attorney sent a letter to the United States ambassador in Colombia, Michael McKinley, trying to clean up the former president's image and requesting that Santoyo be asked if at any time he had told Uribe about the activities he had admitted to in court.
“(…) es clarísimo que si el Coronel Santoyo no hubiera, no hubiera pertenecido al círculo de íntimos del Presidente de la República, no hubiera sido su jefe de seguridad en la Casa de Nariño, esta situación que hoy estamos discutiendo aquí no se hubiera dado, luego por donde uno lo mire repito Senadores y Senadoras de Colombia lo digo con toda franqueza y con todo dolor, hay días como este en que yo me avergüenzo de ser Senador de la República, muchas gracias”
Carlos later makes a call for reflection and concludes:
Nuestra última década sólo es comparable con las dictaduras de todos los pelambres que padeció Latinoamérica, sólo que con más víctimas; y parece que el dolor se anidó en el alma social y nos negamos a ver el drama de sangre y miseria que nos rodea. […]
Sólo existe una forma de reparar el genocidio que nos precede y es la verdad. Sólo así nuestras víctimas podrán ser lloradas y el pueblo aprenderá a nunca más tener los ojos cerrados.
Our past decade is matched only by the dictatorships Latin America suffered under, only with more victims; and it seems the pain has settled in our collective soul and we refuse to see the drama of blood and misery that surrounds us. […]
There is only one form of reparation for the genocide that precedes us and that is the truth. Only then may our victims be mourned and the people will learn to never again close their eyes.
@JAIM3_ANDR3S: El representante Iván Cepeda Castro pidió que sea investigado el Ex presidente Álvaro Uribe Vélez por el caso del general Mauricio Santoyo.
Meanwhile, Jaime Eduardo Arango (@jaimearango9) [es] takes a stand for Uribe:
@jaimearango9: Osorio.Royne.Santoyo.16 años de infiltración de la mafia en la Presidencia y ahora resulta que es culpa de Uribe.
However, there has also been an attempt to tie [es] to Santoyo other politicians who worked in Uribe's government and who could also have had knowledge of Santoyo's movements. Among those are the former Minister of Defense and current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; the former peace commissioner and and now fugitive from justice, Luis Carlos Restrepo; and the former national chief of police Óscar Naranjo. But those implicated from his government, and other politicians allied with Uribe, have denied any involvement with the Santoyo matter.
These attempts to disassociate themselves from Santoyo have not convinced everybody. Like many Twitter users, Wilman R. G. (@wilmang42) [es] shares a link showing the Senate vote on Santoyo's promotion:
For her part, the journalist Irma Londono (@irmalon) [es] writes:
Attorney Andres Barreto G. (@andresbarretog) [es] opines:
@andresbarretog: El caso Santoyo nos deja como lo que somos en el plano exterior: una republiqueta, con militares corruptos y sin aparato judicial seriom [sic]
And Natalia Guerrero (@nnguerrero) [es] adds:
@nnguerrero: El peor escándalo de la historia de Colombia no es la confesión de Santoyo. El escándalo es que no caiga nadie más. Es que ni una renuncia..