HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Uribe Denies Drugs Cartel Links
Pubdate: Mon, 2 Aug 2004
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2004 BBC
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)
Bookmark: (Colombia)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Colombia's government and the US have denied that President Alvaro
Uribe collaborated with a powerful drugs cartel more than a decade

Recently declassified US military intelligence from 1991 appears to
show that Mr Uribe had links to the notorious Medellin drugs cartel.

The unnamed source even describes Mr Uribe as a "close personal
friend" of late cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar.

But Bogota dismissed the allegations as an attempt to smear the

'Dedicated to Collaboration'

The declassified document was released by the US Defense Intelligence
Agency after a request from the National Security Archive - a
non-governmental research group - under the Freedom of Information
Act. It is now available to view on the NSA website.

Dated 23 September 1991, the document is a numbered list of "the more
important Colombian narco-traffickers contracted by the Colombian
narcotic cartels".

At number 82 is: "Alvaro Uribe Velez - a Colombian politician and
senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin cartel at high
government levels.

"Uribe was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in
the US... Uribe has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close
personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria."

The intelligence source also claims Mr Uribe's father was killed
because of his son's links to drugs traffickers and that Mr Uribe
opposed a US-Colombia extradition treaty.

The NSA concedes that the reliability of the intelligence is difficult
to weigh because the source's identity has been withheld.

But the group also points out that much of the information given can
be easily verified as accurate, and that the document contains
specific details, giving the impression it has been carefully
researched and compiled.

In a statement, Mr Uribe's office insisted his father was killed by
left-wing Farc guerrillas for resisting kidnap. It points out that Mr
Uribe has authorised a record 170 extraditions to various countries as

It also says Mr Uribe "has not had business of any kind outside of

But the statement did not specifically rebut allegations that Mr Uribe
was a close friend of Escobar or had links to the Medellin cartel.

Mr Uribe, who celebrates two years in the presidency this week, is now
viewed as a close US ally.

In Washington, a spokesman for the state department said it
"completely disavowed" the allegations.

"President Uribe's record is one of a strong opponent of drug
trafficking," said Robert Zimmerman, deputy spokesman on Western
Hemisphere affairs.

The Colombian government was criticised last week for granting three
warlords from the country's most notorious paramilitary group, the
AUC, immunity from arrest to address Congress.

The president's policy to crush left-wing rebels - which includes mass
round-ups of suspected rebel collaborators and lenient sentences for
paramilitaries who renounce trafficking and violence - has been
criticised by human rights groups.

Despite that, after four decades of devastating civil war, many
Colombians are pleased with Mr Uribe's hardline stance against the

Mr Uribe's office pointed out that similar allegations were made
against Mr Uribe in the run-up to his election in 2002.

Colombians elected him in a landslide victory despite those
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