The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports that high powered ex-paramilitary leaders with ties to narco-trafficking in Colombia are recruiting mercenaries to work for pro-coup forces in Honduras.
The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports that high powered former paramilitaries in Colombia are recruiting ex-paramilitary members for work in Honduras.
The short article which appeared in the Sept. 13 edition of the paper, claims that 40 men participated in a “training” that took place at the “El Japón” ranch, close to the rural town of La Dorada, half way between Medellín and Bogotá. The ranch was ex-propriated from its former owner and convicted narco-trafficker Jairo Correa Alzate, and turned over to the DNE (Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes), the Colombian version of the DEA.
The 1000 hectare ranch was parceled out in 2004, supposedly under the charge of the DNE, but 300 hectares were leased to Gustavo Isaza, who is linked to the brutal Omar Isaza Self-defense Front, a decommissioned branch of the former AUC paramilitary group. According to the paper’s sources, the recruits were offered salaries of US$750 per month to “guard ranches” in Honduras.
The recruits were reportedly waiting for higher-ups to decide whether they would be transported by plane through Panamá, or illicitly by boat up the coast.
In Honduras, the National Front Against the Coup has repeatedly denounced the presence of foreigners employed as paramilitaries who target key leaders in the resistance movement against the coup. Bertha Olivo of the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared told El Tiempo about a group of 120 paramilitaries funded by pro-coup businessmen. Reports point to various concentrations of paramilitaries in San Pedro Sula, and the Santa Barbara Department.
Tomás Andino, an elected Deputy from the leftist UD party said, “Many rightwing extremist organizations from different countries have offered support to the de facto government. They offer manpower and weapons.”
“We know of combatants from Cuba and El Salvador, so the possibility of Colombians doesn’t surprise us.”
Incidentally, in spite of suffering a long history of paramilitary violence in the region where recruiting is strongest, there still remains a strong grassroots movement for social and economic justice. Read this interview with Miguel Ángel Gonzalez Huepa, who recently released after 17 months in captivity as a political prisoner. He is the leader of the Farmers Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC), the region where mercenary recruitment is very strong.