Carlos Castano, chief of the paramilitaries that battled Colombia’s rebel armies, has acknowledged his forces massacred civilians, extorted money and dealt drugs, but claimed those acts were “inevitable excesses” in a war to save the nation. As his United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia prepare to disband as part of a peace agreement with the government, Castano sought to justify the tactics the outlawed right-wing militia group used to fight leftist rebels for nearly two decades. In a message dated Sunday and posted on the Web site of the AUC, as the group is known by its initials in Spanish, the paramilitary chief claimed his fighters prevented guerrillas from taking over Colombia. “We are not seeking gratitude,” Castano said in the message. “We are satisfied with the results of our struggle.” Members of the AUC must “face up” to their actions either collectively or individually, Castano said. But he added: “No one here can summarily send the self-defense forces to jail.” Full Story
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