Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, one of the Bush administration's most steadfast allies in South America, was allegedly a "close personal friend" of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar and worked for his Medellin cartel, according to a newly released U.S. military intelligence report.
The 1991 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency describes Uribe, then a rising political star in Colombia, as being "dedicated to collaboration" with the Medellin cartel, at the time the world's richest criminal organization and the source of most cocaine imported into the United States.
The memo devotes a single paragraph to Uribe and his alleged narcotics involvement, listing him 82nd among 104 of the "more important Colombian narco-traffickers."
The potentially explosive allegations about Uribe, who was elected president in 2002, drew strong repudiation from the Colombian government, the State Department and the Pentagon.
All three groups described the memo, released to a nonprofit research group under a public-records request, as uncorroborated information contradicted by Uribe's record of strong support for efforts to wipe out cocaine in Colombia and extradite Colombian drug suspects to the United States.
Under Uribe, Colombia's coca crop, the source of cocaine, has dropped by more than 50 percent due to intense spraying by U.S.-funded fumigation efforts. More than 160 suspected drug traffickers have been indicted, U.S. defense officials said.
"We completely disavow these allegations against President Uribe," said Robert Zimmerman, deputy spokesman for the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau. "We have no credible information that substantiates or corroborates the allegations."
The document was obtained by the National Security Archives, a nonprofit research group in Washington.