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$700 million US taxpayer dollars poured into Colombia in 2006 — most of it for the military, most of that for the war on drugs. Alongside the regular military were hundreds of para-military units, with thousands of “soldiers.” Now, from details on a confiscated laptop computer, it turns out that elected officials, judges, party loyalists — all from the President Alvaro Uribe’s coalition — have deep and lasting ties to the paramilitaries.

The scandal began early this year when two political parties that support the conservative Uribe — the Bush administration’s closest ally in South America — expelled five of their congressional candidates for ties to right-wing paramilitary militias, which have killed tens of thousands of civilians and run drug-trafficking networks.

But the affair exploded last month after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of three legislators and a former congresswoman — all Uribe allies — for being part of a paramilitary group that brutally massacred 16 villagers in 2000 using rocks and machetes, a trademark paramilitary method of murder.

Colombia Leaders Tied to Death Squads

Of course Uribe is described as President George Bush’s closest ally in South America. Those of you with special ties to South America could do worse than keep the attention of the newly elected Congress focused on where our money is going and how it is used.

Kudos to the SF Chronicle for front-paging the article.

For more on Colombia, and a handhold to get some action, here’s an article about a link to — you guessed it, United Fruit Company.

A political ally of President Alvaro Uribe is under investigation for allegedly doing business with illegal right-wing militias as head of a company that sells fruit for shipment to the United States and Europe.

Uribe Ally Accused of Ties With Militias

To contemplate what it’s like to speak out against the militias and their government enablers read this IPS article