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Miraflores: Top Colombian Officials Dismissed “Apocryphal” Warning of 1997 Massacre

December 27, 2012

Follow the Colombia Documentation Project on Twitter @Colombiadocs

Colombian Defense Minister Gilberto Echeverri Mejía said Miraflores warnings were "apocryphal."

Colombian Defense Minister Gilberto Echeverri Mejía said Miraflores warnings were “apocryphal.”

Top Colombian civilian and military officials dismissed specific warnings of the October 1997 paramilitary assault in Miraflores, according to a declassified State Department cable recently published by the National Security Archive.

Last week we told you about a declassified document that seems to connect Colombian “Emerald Czar” Víctor Carranza (and the Colombian Army) to the October 1997 Miraflores massacre. According to the cable from the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, a paramilitary leader using Carranza’s reported alias “freely admitted” that “he and men under his command” were “responsible for the October 1997 Miraflores massacre” and that the Colombian Army “had facilitated the operation ‘from beginning to end.’”

The same cable reveals that just days before the killings Colombia’s top-ranking civilian and military officials downplayed warnings that AUC paramilitaries would strike in Miraflores. An unknown source told the Embassy on October 10, 1997—a little more than a week before the massacre—“that Miraflores was on the short list for AUC expansion into the area, and that, as in the case of Mapiripan, the paramilitaries would fly in because ‘it was safer that way.’”

Defense Minister Gilberto Echeverri Mejía told U.S. Ambassador Myles Frechette that the warning “was apocryphal and produced to deceive the American Embassy.” Armed Forces commander Gen. José Manuel Bonett also minimized the likelihood that paramilitaries would strike in Miraflores, since they would need to fly in supplies and reinforcements, something that Bonett said “the ‘armed forces would not [repeat] would not permit.’”

Nevertheless, that is precisely what happened. As the Embassy observed:

Only five days later, however, on October 18, the paramilitaries did arrive in Miraflores, by air. And, after killing at least six people, they subsequently flew out.

You can read the entire cable, titled “Mapiripan and Miraflores: Increased Signs of Army Facilitation of Paramilitaries,” here.

Follow the Colombia Documentation Project on Twitter @Colombiadocs

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