Friday, October 4, 2013

Uribe's Unlikely Comeback

Alvaro Uribe: Once and future king?
Ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe is being investigated for paramilitarism by courts in both Bogotá and Medellin. So is his brother Santiago.

Both security chiefs who served during Uribe's presidency are in prison, for drug trafficking and paramilitarism.

A paramilitary leader imprisoned in the U.S. testified recently that his group gave "total support and collaboration" to Uribe's presidential campaign.

A prominent member of Uribe's Centro Democratico political party - a stand-in for Uribe in the presidential elections - was arrested in late August, accused of paramilitary ties.

And Uribe is still fighting accusations from the huge wiretapping scandal during his presidency, which some compare to Watergate.

So, it's quite a time for Uribe to choose to make a political comeback.

But that's exactly what the ex-president aims to do with his Centro Democratico political party, with which he is running for Congress.

Jose Obdulio Gaviria, source of constroversy.
Uribe has, characteristically, not retreated an inch in his own defense. He published Twitter messages headlined: 'Why I am a Paramilitary.' The messages responded to seven specific accusations, including that he collaborated in the paramilitaries' birth when he was governor of Antioquia Department and that, also under his governorship, authorities stood aside when paramilitary death squads massacred 15 peasants in the town of El Aro in 1997. Uribe denies having collaborated at all with paramilitaries.

Uribe, however, attracted even more controversy by including his long-time advisor Jose Obdulio Gaviria in his party's list of congressional candidates. Gaviria, inconveniently, happens to be a cousin of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who was shot down in Medellin in 1993. According to some reports, Gaviria helped his murderous, narcotrafficking cousin.

Uribe carries the flag for his
Centro Democratico party.
Despite everything - including his own efforts to sink his campaign - Uribe's comeback may succeed. Paradoxically, Uribe's favorability rating is still above 60% - far higher than that of Pres. Santos, whom Uribe chose as his succesor, but now vehemently opposes on most issues.

Were eight years enough of Uribe? Not quite.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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