Colombia: why ex-president Uribe is caught by justice

All day, Colombians had waited for the Supreme Court’s decision on the possible imprisonment of their former president Alvaro Uribe Vélez, announced as imminent earlier this week in a case of witness tampering. It was finally the person himself who put an end to the suspense by tweeting early Tuesday afternoon (in the evening in France) that justice had ordered his arrest. “The deprivation of my freedom causes me deep sadness for my wife, for my family and for the Colombians who still believe that I have done something good for the homeland,” he announced.

A highly symbolic decision in a hyper-polarized country, in which the supporters of the former president who served two terms at the head of the country and the left-wing opponents are tearing themselves apart, ten years after the end of the mandate of the current senator of right.

Although some fifty legal proceedings have been opened against the mentor of the current president Ivan Duque because of his supposed links with the ex-paramilitaries and his complicity with various massacres, it is a case of the use of forgery and bribery of witnesses opposing him to the left-wing senator Iván Cepeda which led him to this unprecedented situation in Colombia.

Far-right militias

Six years ago, Iván Cepeda accused the former leader of the Andean country between 2002 and 2010 of being at the origin of a far-right militia and of having links with paramilitary groups as well as with drug traffickers, testimonies of former incarcerated paramilitaries in support. Uribe had in turn accused him of manipulating witnesses. But like a boomerang, not only has the preliminary investigation against Iván Cepeda been closed, but another has been opened regarding possible witness manipulation by Uribe against Cepeda.

The founder of the “Democratic Center” party (right) he leads was heard on October 9 by the magistrates in the context of this case. The charges could earn him up to eight years in prison. But it is before the International Criminal Court (ICC) that his critics hope to see him one day appear.

The massacres of civilians by the army

Whoever claimed during his first electoral campaign “a firm hand and a big heart” indeed drags several balls, among which the massacres of thousands of civilians committed by the soldiers, hand in hand with the paramilitaries, everywhere on the territory within the framework of the policy of the figures instilled by the “democratic security” which it had promoted, with obligations of result. Results that were measured by the number of guerrillas killed.

With a system of reward and promotion for the units which showed the most combat deaths, which had led to the manufacture of “false positives”, these civilians were tricked into trapping, shot dead and then disguised as Farc or Farc fighters. other illegal armed groups. Some were minors, with assassinations peaking in the mid-2000s. The soldiers who were convicted of these acts were released last year when they appealed to the JEP, the Special Justice for Peace , where they make a commitment to tell the whole truth.

The 68-year-old senator is also the subject of a seven-minute series broadcast every Friday since May on social networks and produced by Daniel Mendoza, a journalist who called him “Matarife”, the butcher. Daniel Mendoza strives there among other things to show the links according to him between the former president and the cartel of Medellin, city where he comes from.

A sulphurous entourage

It is true that his sulphurous entourage has nothing to envy to the “narcoseries” which succeed one another on the small screen. His younger brother Santiago Uribe Vélez was himself imprisoned and prosecuted for acts related to paramilitarism. These militias, responsible for “social cleansing” and living off drug trafficking, still operate in Colombia in the form of fragmented groups although officially demobilized since 2005.

His cousin Mario Uribe, ex-president of the Senate, was sentenced in 2011 within the framework of “parapolitics”. As for Dolly Cifuentes, married 15 years to her brother Jaime Alberto Uribe Vélez, now deceased, and to her niece Ana Maria, they were for their part extradited to the United States in 2012 for cocaine trafficking, suspected of being in link with the Mexican Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel.

In a deleterious climate where guerrillas demobilized after the peace agreements between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2016, social leaders, human rights defenders and Indigenous people are murdered every week with great impunity, Ivan Duque, who does not has never stopped supporting Uribe, this new twist would have been fine.

A few months ago, the scandal of “Ñeñepolitique” – named after a wealthy breeder and drug trafficker killed in Brazil in May 2019 -, an alleged purchase of votes and bribes in favor of the campaign of the president elected in June 2018, had already tainted his mandate. On February 12, a cocaine laboratory was also discovered on a property in Colombia belonging to the family of the Ambassador in Uruguay.

Anyone who campaigned for the “no” vote in the 2016 referendum on the peace accords should be placed under house arrest and for the time being exempt from imprisonment.

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