The Narco-State Cometh is running an investigative report by Al Giordano about presidential “narco-candidacy” of Colombian governor Alvaro Uribe Vélez. According to the report Uribe, Washington’s preferred candidate, is caught a web of Colombia’s Greatest Hits of cocaine scandals. Among the sordid threads are ties to infamous narcotrafficers like Pablo Escobar, genocidal paramilitary groups like the AUC and, most recently, to 50,000 kilos of Medellín-bound “precursor chemical” seized in Los Angeles and Oakland (California) in 1997 and 1998.

In 1982 Alvaro Uribe Vélez was elected mayor of Medellín at the same time history’s most notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar, was on the rise. Over the next several years Escobar invested the Medellín Cartel’s income in development projects ranging from low-income housing to Medellín’s metro system, creating an economic boom in the region. Uribe, Moreno and Escobar would work in concert through Uribe’s election to Governor, Escobar’s election to Congress and up until Escobar’s murder. (It should be noted that the Uribe family is a pedigree of right-wing narco-politicians: his drug trafficking grandfather was a saved from extradition by a Medellín politician and his father gave pilots licenses to traffickers.)Pablo Escobar’s was responsible for the decimation of the leftist UP party (which, incidentally, is the reason the FARC refuses to disarm), the siege of the Superior Court, and the rise of the right-wing paramilitary organizations. In the days before the 1990 election Escobar-backed terrorists assassinated four presidential candidates including Luis Carlos Galán of the Liberal Party (an anti-narcotic candidate). Galán was replaced by Cesar Gaviria who served until 1994 and is now the US-backed (pro-Plan Colombia) chief of the Organization of American States. Through this period Moreno, Uribe’s chief of staff, was responsible for establishing heavily armed (government-trained) Rural Vigilance Committees (CONVIVIR). CONVIVIRs were terrorized the civilian populations such that they were banned in 1997. When courts ordered the military-issued high-tech weaponry be returned the vigilantes joined Colombia’s most notorious terrorist paramilitary group, the Self-Defense Forces of Columbia (AUC).

Uribe Velez has claimed that, if elected president, he would take a harder line against leftist rebels. Many have speculated that such a tough stance may resemble the one he took in ordering the organization of CONVIVIRs in 1995.

“Without the coca plant, there is no cocaine, but without acetone, ether and permanganate, it is impossible to have drugs.” October 25 1999 press release from Colombian President Andrés Pastrana

Between 1997 and 1999 US Customs agents seized three shipments of potassium permanganate on Chinese freighters bound for a Medellín (Colombia) company called GMP Productos Quimicos, S. A. (trans: GMP Chemical Products). One kilo of the chemical makes 10 kilos of cocaine; the seized shipments are sufficient to produce 2000 metric tons of cocaine. The black market value of potassium permanganate was $280 dollars (US) per kilo in 1999; the seized shipments were worth $14 million dollars (US).
Neither the transport of potassium permanganate nor the failure to notify the DEA of shipments is unusual. MacDermid Inc., a Connecticut-based chemical firm, for example, paid $50,000 dollars to the federal government for failing to notify it of the transport of 500 kilos of the precursor to legitimate buyers. GMP Chemical Products is not, however, your usual chemical company.

According to the DEA’s report, the owner of GMP is Pedro Juan Moreno Villa. Villa is Uribe’s current campaign manager, former chief of staff and a longtime associate. Between 1994 and 1998, when Uribe was governor of Antioquia, GMP was the largest importer or potassium permanganate in Colombia.

Investigations by Colombia’s chemical control agency and the Colombian National Police in 1997 and 1998 revealed that GMP was in possession of 2450 kilograms of unlicensed potassium permanganate. Investigation of GMP’s records revealed that thousands of sales had of the chemical had been made to fictitious persons or fraudulently by using employee information. By ensuring that each sale was under 4.5 kilograms (enough to make 46 kilos or 1.38 million US dollars of cocaine) GMP avoided the necessity of collecting licenses. The implied conclusion is that the GMP has been a major supplier potassium permanganate of cocaine manufacturers for decades. The shipments seized in California by the DEA are part of that supply chain.

The article concludes with speculation that Washington is supporting the candidacy of Alvaro Uribe because the evidence is already in place to prosecute the administration. Documents tying Uribe to narcotrafficking may provide the US government with the blackmail material it needs to lent its support, in a story reminiscent Pinochet, Noriega, Salinas, Zedillo, Menem, Banzer and Fujimori.

Al Giordano’s report also ends with a warning: In Uribe wins “América – indeed the world – will see the US-backed Narco-State, caked in white powder, a government without credibility at ground zero of the war on drugs.”

[Originally published on]