Friday, June 15, 2012

Uribe's Relative Troubles

Alvaro Uribe may wish that
his brother had been less prolific.

As president from 2002 to 2010, Alvaro Uribe made the fight against narcotrafficking and the guerrillas who profit from it the center of his policy, and progress combatting both gave him great popularity.

And since leaving office, Uribe has used his Twitter account and public speeches to try to pressure his succesor Santos to take a similar line.

So Uribe must feel particularly dismayed by revelations that close relatives of his stand accused of drug trafficking, and may be extradited to the United States - the same place where Uribe sent so many Colombian narcos. The revelations, by journalist Gonzalo Guillén on the Nuevo Arco Iris website, could undercut Uribe's criticisms of Pres. Santos' policies, including the Framework for Peace law approved by Congress today, which Uribe calls an amnesty for guerrillas. Uribe has also harshly attacked Santos's military strategy, which Uribe charges has enabled leftist guerrillas to return to the offensive.

The Uribe-Santos split is surprising, since Santos was Uribe's defense minister and Uribe's hand-picked succesor. It's gotten so serious, with a constant stream of criticisms on Uribe's Twitter account, that Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer recently wrote that the fued "could cripple Colombia."

Uribe's political plans are unknown, but he certainly won't keep quiet. Some speculate that Uribe wants to find a way to run for president again - for which he'd likely have to get approval from the Supreme Court.

According to the latest revelations, the ex-president's brother Jaime Alberto Uribe, who died in 2001 of throat cancer, had two children outside of marriage with Dolly de Jesús Cifuentes. That's not unusual in Colombia, and wouldn't be material for scandal, but for the fact that U.S. authorities accuse Dolly de Jesús Cifuentes and her daughter of belonging to the Cifuentes Villa drug cartel, which allegedly shipped tons of cocaine to the U.S. The Cifuentes Villa organization is allegedly linked to the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.

Guillen also reports alleged links between Uribe's brother and the Cifuentes Villa cartel, and that the Uribe administration didn't investigate the organization.

This isn't the first time ex-Pres. Uribe has been linked to outlaw organizations. A 1991 U.S. intelligence report linked Uribe to narcotrafficking. U.S. authorities later said the report was only speculation. Various Uribe relatives have also been linked to right-wing paramilitary death squads, including a cousin who did prison time for collaborating with the organizations. Uribe himself has been harried by suspicions of links to the outlaw organizations, which are classified as terrorists by the U.S. and Colombian governments and have committed some of the most horrific atrocities in Colombia's long armed conflict.

While governor of Antioquia Department from 1995 to '97, Uribe encouraged the organization of Convivir or rural self-defense organizations supposed to protect residents against guerrillas and kidnappers. But the Convivirs were accused of collaborating with the paramilitaries.

Uribe has always denied any links to the paramilitaries, and he said via twitter that he didn't even know about his brother's illegitimate children.

Despite these questions, and scandals such as the false positives killings, Uribe remains highly popular, and would stand a strong chance if able to run for another term as president.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

mauricio forero l said...

Awesome post Mike, I hope you are doing fine. I have been so busy that this is the first time in like tow weeks, that finally I can take a look at your blog.

Mauricio Forero.