Saturday, July 12, 2014

Where, Oh Where, Has Andrés Arias Gone?

Where is he now? Andrés Felipe Arias with Alvaro Uribe,
pushing ethanol back in happier days.
Just a few years ago, he looked like the political heir of then-Pres. Alvaro Uribe. But that was before it was revealed that Andrés Felipe Arias, Uribe's minister of agriculture, had overseen an agricultural subsidies program whose beneficiaries included the wealthy and famous.

A month ago, while out of prison and awaiting a judge's ruling, Arias slipped his government-appointed bodyguard and disappeared with his family. He reportedly traveled to the United States, but his own lawyers say they can't contact him. Meanwhile, neighbors have seen vehicles moving furniture out of Arias's apartment.

Yet Arias's lawyers insist that he will return do his prison term, whose length has not yet been set. Journalists seem to doubt that.
Ex-DAS director María del Pilar Hurtado, now in Panama,
doesn't want to come home.

Arias is not the only ex-Uribe official spending time outside the reach of Colombia courts.

María del Pilar Hurtado, who headed the DAS secret police under Uribe is residing in Panama, where she's fighting extradition charges resulting from an Uribe-era spying scandal.

A second Uribe-era DAS director, Jorge Noguera, was sentenced in 2011 to a 25-year prison term for using the secret police agency to assist right-wing paramilitary groups.

At least four other Uribe officials are awaiting court rulings on charges related to various scandals.

And Uribe himself faces multiple investigations involving alleged connections to paramilitary groups.

Ex-DAS director Jorge Noguera, convicted
for collaborating with paramilitaries.
Despite all of this dirt, Uribe remains extremely powerful, and will soon enter the Senate, where he will enjoy a degree of legal immunity. Uribe's hand-picked candidate, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, almost won the presidency in recent elections.

To Uribe's credit - sort of - he has remained unwaveringly loyal to his ex-officials. But when will Uribe's almost magical spell on many Colombians' mentality fall away before these many crimes and scandals?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: