D.C., 1 August 2004 - Then-Senator and now President
Álvaro Uribe Vélez of Colombia was a "close personal
friend of Pablo Escobar" who was "dedicated to collaboration
with the Medellín [drug] cartel at high government levels,"
according to a 1991
intelligence report from U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials
in Colombia. The document was posted today on the website
of the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research group
based at George Washington University.
Uribe's inclusion on the list raises new questions about allegations
that surfaced during Colombia's 2002 presidential campaign. Candidate
Uribe bristled and abruptly terminated an interview in March 2002
when asked by Newsweek reporter Joseph Contreras about his
alleged ties to Escobar and his associations with others involved
in the drug trade. Uribe accused Contreras of trying to smear his
reputation, saying that, "as a politician, I have been honorable
The newly-declassified report, dated 23 September 1991, is a numbered
list of "the more important Colombian narco-traffickers contracted
by the Colombian narcotic cartels for security, transportation, distribution,
collection and enforcement of narcotics operations." The document
was released by DIA in May 2004 in response to a Freedom of Information
Act request submitted by the Archive in August 2000.
source of the report was removed by DIA censors, but the detailed,
investigative nature of the report -- the list corresponds with a
numbered set of photographs that were apparently provided with the
original -- suggests it was probably obtained from Colombian or U.S.
counternarcotics personnel. The document notes that some of the information
in the report was verified "via interfaces with other agencies."
President Uribe -- now a key U.S. partner in the drug war -- "was
linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the United
States" and "has worked for the Medellín cartel,"
the narcotics trafficking organization led by Escobar until he was
killed by Colombian government forces in 1993. The report adds that
Uribe participated in Escobar's parliamentary campaign and that as
senator he had "attacked all forms of the extradition treaty"
with the U.S.
"Because both the source of the report and the reporting officer's
comments section were not declassified, we cannot be sure how the
DIA judged the accuracy of this information," said Michael Evans,
director of the Archive's Colombia Documentation Project, "but
we do know that intelligence officials believed the document was serious
and important enough to pass on to analysts in Washington."
In a statement issued on July 30,
the Colombian government took exception to several items reported
in the document, saying that Uribe has never had any foreign business
dealings, that his father was killed while fleeing a kidnap attempt
by FARC guerrillas, and that he had not opposed the extradition treaty,
but merely hoped to postpone a referendum to prevent the possibility
that narcotraffickers would influence the vote.
The communiqué, however, did not deny the most
significant allegation reported in the document: that Uribe had a
close personal relationship with Pablo Escobar and business dealings
with the Medellín Cartel.
The document is marked "CONFIDENTIAL NOFORN WNINTEL," indicating
that its disclosure could reasonably be expected to damage national
security, that its content was based on intelligence sources and methods,
and that it should not be shared with foreign nationals.
Uribe, the 82nd name on the list, appears on the same page as Escobar
and Fidel Castaño, who went on to form the country's major
paramilitary army, a State Department-designated terrorist group now
engaged in peace negotiations with the Uribe government. Written in
March 1991 while Escobar was still a fugitive, the report was forwarded
to Washington several months after his surrender to Colombian authorities
in June 1991.
Most of those on the list are well-known drug traffickers or assassins
associated with the Medellín cartel. Others listed include
ex-president of Panama Manuel Noriega, Iran-contra arms dealer Adnan
Khashoggi, and Carlos Vives, a Colombian entertainer said to be connected
to the narcotics business through his uncle.
here to read the document
September 1991 (Date of Information 18 March 1991)
Narcotics - Colombian Narco-trafficker Profiles
Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Confidential,
Source: Declassification Release Under the Freedom of Information
Act, May 2004
the Document Accurate?
As stated in the document, the report is "not finally evaluated"
intelligence information. In other words, the information reported
in the document is only as good as its source. In this case, the DIA
has withheld from release the source of the information as well as
the comments of the reporting official from the Department of Defense,
making it difficult to verify the accuracy of the information listed
in the document. However, the document differs from the average field
report in several ways:
1) The summary indicates that information in the report was cross-checked
"via interfaces with other agencies," indicating that
some evaluation had already taken place.
2) The summary offers no caveats or qualifications on the credibility
of the information and is stated as fact. It thus seems likely that
the originator of the report (the "source") believed the
information to be true.
3) The report includes many details like identification card numbers
and dates of birth, giving it the appearance of an official, investigative
document. The fact that the numbered list corresponds to photographs
that were provided with the original suggests that the report had
a variety of uses, including criminal investigations and immigration
4) Much of the information on other individuals identified in the
report is accurate and easily verifiable.
5) It is evident that a significant amount of time and energy went
into compiling this report, and that it did not come from a single
source at a cocktail party as these reports often do.
text of communiqué from the Colombian government (Casa de
Nariño) - Spanish (English
Presidencia de la República ha tenido conocimiento en el
día de hoy sobre información en poder de algunos medios
de comunicación, relativa a un documento de la Defense Inteligente
Agency de los Estados Unidos, elaborado en septiembre de 1991. Dicho
documento fue revelado en virtud de un derecho de petición
en ese país.
documento sugiere que Álvaro Uribe Vélez tenía
en ese entonces relaciones con el narcotráfico y el Cartel
de Medellín, que su padre fue asesinado por sus relaciones
con los narcotraficantes, que era amigo personal de Pablo Escobar
y participó en la campaña que llevó a este
a la Cámara de Representantes como segundo renglón
de Jairo Ortega, y que, como Senador, Uribe se opuso al tratado
documento señala que se trata de información que no
fue evaluada (“Not finally evaluated”).
a lo anterior, la Presidencia de la República informa lo
Esta información es la misma que, en su momento, hizo parte
de los ataques de que fue objeto el Presidente Álvaro Uribe
Vélez como candidato durante su campaña presidencial.
En 1991, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, entonces Senador, estuvo
en los Estados Unidos en un programa académico de la Universidad
de Harvard, mientras sesionaba la Asamblea Constituyente, periodo
durante el cual tuvo lugar la revocatoria del Congreso.
Álvaro Uribe Vélez no ha tenido negocios de ningún
tipo en el extranjero. Como lo explicó durante su campaña
a los medios de comunicación, cuando se debatieron los mismos
temas, sólo tuvo dos cuentas bancarias en el exterior: una
en un banco de Bostón, adjunto a la Universidad de Harvard
y otra en Oxford, Inglaterra, mientras estuvo en esa universidad
en 1998. No tiene un solo bien en el extranjero.
Alberto Uribe Sierra, padre del Presidente, fue asesinado por el
5º frente de las FARC el 14 de junio de 1983 al resistir un
intento de secuestro. Uribe Sierra enfrentó a sus secuestradores;
en el enfrentamiento resultó herido su hijo Santiago.
Álvaro Uribe Vélez fue elegido Senador en tres oportunidades:
en 1986, 1990 y 1991 como miembro del movimiento “Directorio
Liberal de Antioquia - Sector Democrático“. (Jairo
Ortega, de quien Escobar fue segundo renglón, fue elegido
a la Cámara de Representantes por un movimiento diferente
En los anales del Congreso de 1989, consta la posición del
senador Uribe Vélez sobre la extradición. La única
que el Senador tuvo sobre el tema durante su desempeño como
que fue reiterada en el año 2002 por el entonces candidato
presidencial en entrevistas para los periódicos El Tiempo
y El Espectador de Bogotá y la Cadena Radial Caracol:
en la segunda ronda, infortunadamente, la Cámara de Representantes
incluyó ese mico para que se llevara un referéndum
preguntándoles a los colombianos si rechazaban o no la
extradición en lo que deberían ser las elecciones
parlamentarias de marzo de 1990". (…) “yo me
levante y dije que era altamente inconveniente que ese referéndum
coincidiera con las elecciones parlamentarias porque entonces
se corría el riesgo de que el narcotráfico presionara
esas elecciones. Dije que una alternativa debería ser que,
si se iba a llevar adelante el referendo se llevará adelante
después de las elecciones parlamentarias y después
de la elección presidencial, para que no hubiera lugar
a presiones". (El Tiempo, 23 de marzo de 2003).
Durante su Gobierno, Álvaro Uribe ha autorizado la extradición
de más de 170 personas solicitadas por diferentes países
para ser juzgadas por narcotráfico y otros delitos, incluido
el lavado de activos.
Como Presidente se opone a la modificación del mecanismo
de extradición vigente.
julio 30 de 2004
text of communiqué from the Colombian government (Casa de
Nariño) - English [Unofficial English
translation by Michael Evans]
the President of the Republic has learned about information in possession
of the news media relating to a document from the Defense Intelligence
Agency of the United States from September 1991. The document was
released by virtue of a right to petition in that country.
document suggests that Álvaro Uribe Vélez then had
relations with narcotrafficking and the Medellín Cartel,
that his father was assassinated for his relations to the narcotraffickers,
that he was a personal friend of Pablo Escobar and participated
in his campaign to become assistant parliamentarian to Jairo Ortega,
and that, as Senator, Uribe opposed the extradition treaty.
document indicates that the information it contains is "not
the face of this information, the President of the Republic states
This information is the same that, at the time, was part of the
attacks that President Álvaro Uribe Vélez was subjected
to as a candidate during his presidential campaign.
In 1991, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, then Senator, was in
the United States in an academic program at Harvard University,
while the Constitutional Assembly was in session, during which period
the Congress was suspended.
Álvaro Uribe Vélez has not had business of any kind
outside of Colombia. As he explained to the news media during his
campaign, when these same issues were raised, he had only two foreign
bank accounts: one in a bank in Boston, attached to Harvard University
and the other in Oxford, England, while he was at that university
in 1998. He does not have even one foreign asset.
Álvaro Uribe Sierra, father of the President, was assassinated
by the 5th Front of the FARC on 14 June 1983 while resisting a kidnapping
attempt. Uribe Sierra confronted his kidnappers; the confrontation
resulted in the wounding of his son Santiago.
Álvaro Uribe Vélez was elected Senator three times:
in 1986, 1990 and 1991 as member of the "Directorio Liberal
de Antioquia - Sector Democrático" movement. (Jairo
Ortega, to whom Escobar was assistant parliamentarian, was elected
to the Parliament by a different movement in 1982).
In the congressional archives from 1989, Senator Uribe's position
on extradition is clear. The only position that the Senator ever
took on this issue during his tenure as Senator. A position that
was reiterated in 2002 by the then-presidential candidate in interviews
with the newspapers El Tiempo and El Espectador
de Bogotá y la Cadena Radial Caracol:
in the second term, unfortunately, the House of Representatives
included this rider to advance a referendum asking Colombians
to accept or reject extradition when it should have been the parliamentary
elections of 1990". (...) "I got up and said that it
was highly inconvenient that this referendum coincided with the
parliamentary elections because then they were running the risk
that narcotraffickers would affect these elections. I said that
an alternative should be that, if they are going to raise the
referendum, to raise it after the parliamentary elections and
after the presidential election, so that they could not bring
these pressures to bear. (El Tiempo, 23 de marzo 2003).
During his Government, Álvaro Uribe has authorized the extradition
of more than 170 individuals solicited by various contries to be
tried for narcotrafficking and other crimes, including money laundering.
As President he opposes the modification of the mechanism of extradition
now in force.
30 July 2004
Joseph Contreras, "A
Harsh Light on Associate 82," Newsweek,
International Edition, 9 August 2004 edition
Also see: Joseph Contreras, "Blacklist
to the A List," Newsweek 9 August 2004
Juan Forero, "'91
U.S. Report Calls Colombian Leader Ally of Drug Lords,"
New York Times, 2 August 2004
T. Christian Miller, "U.S.
Intelligence Tied Colombia's Uribe to Drug Trade in '91 Report,"
Los Angeles Times, 2 August 2004
Dan Molinski, "U.S.
Defends Uribe Over Alleged Drug Ties," Associated
Press (via Guardian Unlimited), 3 August 2004
de Estado de E.U. rechaza documento que vincula a Álvaro
Uribe con el narcotráfico," El Tiempo,
1 August 2004 (Dead link)
Semana.com - ENTREVISTA
con Michael Evans
"La historia detrás del documento de inteligencia que
acusó a Uribe de tener vínculos con el cartel de Medellín,"
8 August 2004