|Sen. Ivan Cepeda on a television in Paloquemao |
fruit market during this week's debate.
Right-wing Senator Alvaro Uribe's father was murdered by left-wing guerrillas.
This week, mutual accusations in Congress between these ideological opposites created a drama which gripped much of Colombia.
Cepeda, a leader of the Polo Democratico Alternativo party, has also been a human rights activist and spokesman for the Movement of Victims of Crimes by the State (MOVICE). Cepeda's human rights activism is probably rooted in the story of his father, Manuel Cepeda Vargas, a Communist Party leader who was murdered in Bogotá in 1994 by right-wing paramilitaries linked to the regular military.
|Sen. Alvaro Uribe hits back during the debate.|
|'Uribe never again.' at an anti-Uribe protest |
in the Universidad Nacional.
Each of these accusations contains at least a grain of truth.
Uribe's father, Alberto Uribe Sierra, was a prominent rancher, who traveled to his ranch, the Guacharacas, by helicopter to evade the guerrillas who roamed the region. On June 14, 1983 Uribe was at his ranch when three FARC guerrillas arrived. There was a shoot-out, in which the elder Uribe was killed by bullets in the head and chest. (The younger Uribe has, unsurprisingly, spent much of his political career attacking the guerrillas and the left generally.) The guerrillas also shot up the helicopter, disabling it.
The younger Uribe eventually sold the helicopter, and - strangely - it was later found, repaired, on Tranquilandia, Pablo Escobar's cocaine-making complex in southern Colombia. In addition, the elder Uribe was reportedly a friend of the Ochoa brothers, who were part of Escobar's Medellin drug cartel.
But a friendship and a helicopter sale aren't proof of wrongdoing. And, in any case, a son isn't responsible for his father's sins.
Regarding newspaperman Cano's murder, Cepeda said that Uribe had been on the board of directors of a company belonging to a businessman convicted for participation in the assassination. That strikes me as a particularly thin reed to tie a murder charge to. (Escobar is generally believed to have been behind the killing.)
In Congress, Cepeda also charged that Uribe had been - at the very least - permissive with the mushrooming paramilitary forces during his 1995-97 term as governor of Medellin. Cepeda offered videos and recordings of ex-paramilitary leaders implicating Uribe, who denies the accusations.
And Cepeda accused Uribe of having met with paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso on Uribe's Antioquia estate, El Ubérrimo. Mancuso, now in a U.S. prison, says he visited Uribe, who thanked him for helping improve security in the region, and that the paramilitaries supported Uribe's presidential campaign.
Such charges have long harried Uribe, who is fighting dozens of charges in Congress's Committee of Accusations, as well as seven investigations in the Attorney General's office. But, as yet, no charges have stuck. Uribe denies having ever collaborated with paramilitaries.
Uribe, for his part, hurled charges in all directions: He accused Cepeda of being a guerrilla ally and accused President Santos of accepting drug money for his campaign. Cepeda and Santos deny the accusations.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours