United States Latin American policy
United States financing its own Liability: Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe
Jose Maria Rodriguez Gonzalez
U.S. Foreign Policy Analyst
Part 1: Alvaro Uribe’s paramilitary politics
The paramilitary politics, para-politics, or “parapolítica” - as it is known in Colombia, represents the interests of terrorist paramilitary forces, narco trafficking mafia, and
political followers of the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, also branded as Uribeists. While Bush, U.S. fundamentalist
conservatives (commonly identified as neocons) and Republicans in general developed a passion for this dangerous blend,
Barack Obama – a believer in the rule of law, a human rights advocate, and a pragmatic social activist - seems unlikely
to become a member of Uribe’s fan club.
Things to Remember about Alvaro Uribe
Even if Alvaro Uribe states that he has nothing to do with terrorism and narco-trafficking in Colombia, there are many
facts that point in a different direction. For instance, Alvaro Uribe’s mother is a cousin of Fabio Ochoa, who is
directly associated with the drug mafia known as the “Ochoa Clan.” Pablo Escobar, the renowned mafia chief, was Uribe’s
father's best friend. Uribe’s key advisor and his long term confidant, Obdulio Gaviria, was Pablo Escobar’s defense
lawyer and Pablo Escobar’s cousin.
The list can go on. President Uribe’s brother, Santiago, and their cousin Mario, were accused of criminal activities,
including land stealing. They worked in association with terrorist paramilitaries. Mario Uribe tried to escape from his
charges to Costa Rica. After that he was captured and jailed for a short period of time, but then of course, he was
released because of the ‘technical’ reasons.
Alvaro Uribe’s family ties to narco-mafia not being enough, many of his current government officials and Uribe’s
collaborators have links to crime and drug-traffickers. For example, Jorge Noguera, Uribe’s close friend and his 2002’
presidential campaign manager in Colombia’s north coast, was accused of criminal activities that he committed in
association with terrorist narco-paramilitaries.
His crimes were directed at weakening Uribe’s opponents. Instead of investigating these serious accusations against
Noguera, the newly elected President Uribe promoted Noguera to a position of the Chief of the Colombia’s Central
Intelligence Agency, called “Administrative Department of Security” or DAS (in Spanish). Already as the chief of the
national intelligence service, Jorge Noguera was accused in court of providing the lists of union, community and
political leaders to the paramilitaries for the purpose of having the former assassinated. To protect his partner again,
Uribe named Jorge Noguera as a Consul to the Colombian Consulate in Milan, Italy, this time around. Thanks to president
Uribe’s constant advocacy, the law has hard time keeping Noguera in jail.
Maria Consuelo Araújo, a former Uribe Secretary of State, diplomacy chief – is another example. Her father and brother,
an uribeist senator, were charged with crimes they committed in association with narco paramilitaries. President Uribe
fought to the last resort against Maria Consuelo Araújo’s resignation, despite all the negative consequences to Colombia
prestige in this case.
Unbelievable truth, Uribe’s top National Police Chief, General Oscar Naranjo’s brother Juan David Naranjo is in jail in
Germany for narco trafficking.
Also, Uribe’s Minister of the Interior and Justice Fabio Valencia Cossio’s brother - Guillermo Valencia Cossio - was
jailed for associating with paramilitaries while being a Medellín Prosecutor. Medellín is a large city, the capital of
Antioquia Province. It is a region of Alvaro Uribe’s and paramilitary’s great influence. It is important to note that
the Interior and Justice Ministry is the second position of power in the government after the president.
Moreover, Fernando Londono - Uribe’s first Minister of Interior and Justice conspired together with an Italian company
“Recchi” against Colombia’s interests. He unlawfully bought shares in Invercolsa, a petroleum assets holding company,
making believe he was its employee. Fernando Londoño, was ordered by the Court to return around three million dollars to
the company and its workers. Fernando Londoño is however still creating excuses to never return those moneys. Fernando
Londoño is like the missing link of Rod Blagojevich.
Another incredible reality, on May 22, 2006, an anti-insurgency Army platoon slaughtered the whole Police anti-drug
elite team. This anti-drug squad was most successful in the war against narcotics. They were shot at a close range from
behind, when attempting to capture Diego Montoya - an important narco-traffickers’ chief with ties to the Army. This
case also demonstrates the frustration of the fight against drugs in Uribe’s government. The hidden problem in these
cases is the Colombian Army collaboration with the narco-traffickers. Let’s keep it in mind that Alvaro Uribe is
Colombian Army’s Commander in Chief.
Furthermore, there are suspicions that representatives of the narco paramilitaries and even narco paramilitaries
themselves hold high level meetings at Uribe’s presidential palace. One of these meetings took place in April of 2008.
One of the participants of the meeting was Juan José Chaux, former Uribe’s Governor of Cauca Province and Dominican
Republic Ambassador. Chaux has been meeting with narco paramilitary chiefs since 2003, and maybe earlier.
The list of Uribe’s lenience with crime and his narco paramilitary leads is too long to indicate here.
Does Alvaro Uribe have an alibi?
President Uribe is using every resource to clear himself and criminal members of his close circle of collaborators in
government of any suspicion. Consequently his collaborators have been hardly fully prosecuted. Or when they are jailed
they often receive lower sentences and get early releases. It is most relevant to note that anyone investigated,
prosecuted or jailed in his circle of collaborators continues to work with Uribe’s administration in one way or the
other, or ends up re-enforcing Uribe’s political apparatus. In the end, Uribe’s corrupt political machine just gets
But, the architect and prime exponent of uribeism, Alvaro Uribe, should not escape from his responsibility for the murders of thousands of his fellow citizens. Numerous
union and community leaders, political opponents, and civil rights workers fell victim to the right-wing terrorist
paramilitary death squads. And President Alvaro Uribe has never taken responsibility for any of those murders.
There is a parallel between Alvaro Uribe and Adolph Hitler here. Adolph Hitler also could have claimed that he never
killed a single Jew. There were no photographs of Hitler standing over a pile of Jewish bodies.
He never signed a confession, or handed a smoking gun to the prosecutors. But his role as the leader of the Nazi party,
that proudly espoused genocide, was surely sufficient to condemn him. Likewise the results of Alvaro Uribe’s deeds, and
the facts of his rule, are enough to say that he is behind the crimes against humanity in the last decade in Colombia.
Yet, we have to bear in mind, that Uribe have been supported by the official U.S. government. Bush plunged Colombia in
its current corrupt government and praised it with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was an embarrassment for the
U.S. to have honored Uribe as a freedom fighter after he violated freedom and human rights in Colombia. Uribe has
displayed a disregard for the law and human dignity. Also, Alvaro Uribe is fixated on war as an exclusive solution
against insurgency. He considers everything else, like diplomacy, a victory of the insurgents. The U.S. Republican
judgment of Alvaro Uribe is not only poor, it is simply wrong.
Manipulation of Domestic Justice by Alvaro Uribe.
Alvaro Uribe’s manipulation of the law, his disrespect, enmity and public attacks against the Supreme Court and the
Judiciary branch of power are well known, even worldwide. Last year when the Congress finished its ordinary sessions,
Uribe declared an extraordinary Congress session on December 11, 2008. At 3:40 AM the last minute reelection referendum
law to benefit Uribe was presented for approval. It allowed Uribe’s to be elected for the third time. Before Uribe came
to power, the President was only supposed to do one term. So Uribe twisted the constitution for pure personal interests
against all objections.
Uribe’s second re-election was also tainted by his manipulation with the law, corruption and bribes. The former Minister
of Interior and Justice and current Ambassador in Italy, Sabas Pretelt, was accused of conspiracy to bribe congressional
key members to assure Congressional approval of Uribe’s first re-election. Former MP Yidis Medina is already jailed as
participant of the same conspiracy.
Many of President Uribe’s personal friends, who are also Congress members, are investigated, prosecuted or jailed for
their association with crimes committed by the paramilitaries. 45 of these suspected congressmen were not allowed by law
to vote in Congress. However, President Uribe needed at least 20 of these suspected criminals to vote. So he decided to
pass a political reform bill that would allow all of them to vote regardless of whether they were investigated or
Alvaro Uribe’s government manipulated two Constitutional Court sentences and one Council of State’s to allow the
suspected criminal congressmen to vote for Uribe’s political and justice reforms. Uribe’s legal solution in this case
was to interpret conspiracy and crimes against humanity equal to the lesser disciplinary offends of those sentences.
Colombia could save President Uribe’s juggling and toying with the Colombian law if Alvaro Uribe just had honest friends
and collaborators. Let’s compare with a good Barack Obama’s government judgment. When Obama learned that an
investigation on Bill Richardson, a very important nominated key member of his cabinet, was not going to be concluded
soon, Obama prudentially accepted Bill Richardson’s resignation. Obama didn’t want to distract his government from the
work it needs to accomplish nor to leave any doubt about the transparency, honesty and competence of his cabinet
members, regardless of the possibility that Bill Richardson could be acquitted. This is an example of practical,
unquestioning and non-ideological approach to government. Senator Tom Daschle’s withdrawal as Obama’s nominee is not a
coincidence. But, in Colombia U.S. is dealing with a suspected criminal as president with discovered criminals helping
his administration, who also happened to be his family and closed friends.
Alvaro Uribe’s Army crimes against Colombian civilians:
Uribe’s top generals disregard the systematic assassinations of hundreds of innocent civilians by the Army. These
victims are misrepresented to the public as guerrillas killed in combat by the Army. The commanders received economic
and military benefits put in place by Alvaro Uribe. These killings are called “false positives” and add to the
traditional cold blood executions. Only one Army Chief of the Uribe’s government, General Mario Montoya, resigned to
cover up the others. Cosmetic firings have been done as well.
Let’s keep it in mind, that the U.S. is financing Alvaro Uribe’s para-politics government with criminals in its closed
circle of collaborators. This is roughly equivalent to supporting Myanmar’s deceiving, bloody, repressive and corrupt
Junta -- but right in the backyard of the U.S.!
Alvaro Uribe’s con-man techniques:
Many of the above-mentioned facts are well known. What has been difficult to unveil are the deceiving techniques of
Uribe, his Ministers,
his spokespeople, and his lobbyists. All of them, like a chorus, claim that Colombia’s Army, Police and the Colombian
government itself are most respectful of the Human Rights. According to them, zero tolerance to crimes against humanity
reigns in Colombia.
Uribe’s high ranking government officials like his first Minister of Interior and Justice, Fernando Londoño, lie with
easy. Londoño, in his public propaganda of the successes of Alvaro Uribe’s war against drugs, stated that with
government eradication of coca plants, there was not even one plant of coca left in Colombia.
Alvaro Uribe’s official reports to the U.S., and international communiqués allege that his government is clean of even
the most remote connection with terrorist narco-paramilitaries. Alvaro Uribe and his close circle of collaborators
consider that the opposite findings by the CIA, UN, OAS, DEA, International Courts, the Non-Government Organizations
(NGOs), as well as the U.S. and international press, are only a conspiracy of the opposition against the president.
Uribe and his friends even state with pretentiousness that the opposition to his government is envious of President
Uribe, because he runs the cleanest government in the history of Colombia. Uribe is like a con-artist who has the
know-how to convince the general public that he deserves trust. Until it is obvious we become his victims.
Many organizations in the world, as well as the general public are aware of Uribe’s and his administration crimes. The
press has not been silent about that. Reports on Alvaro Uribe’s administration issues were published by The New York
Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald (Spanish), and The International Herald Tribune among others in U.S.
Human rights watch groups, as well as democracy watch groups have strongly complained against Uribe. Different NGOs have
expressed concerns about Colombian government’s corruption, as well as the lack of rule of law and transparency in the
government. Their other concern is the damage Alvaro Uribe’s national and international criminal behaviors caused. The
situation is so bad, that there is a tacit international consensus that Uribe should not seek the third election term.
It is the last resource to save the democratic face of Colombia.
U.S., Colombia and Latin American Policy Today:
The current goal of most of the Latin American countries is to establish their governments based on awareness of the
larger social needs in the region. They strive to follow democratic principals, and support democratic institutions as
well as transparency. Unfortunately, Colombia is moving against the traffic there. Uribe’s administration policies have
created distrust, distance and bad reputation among the Latin American countries.
Although few Latin American countries are extending their existing presidencies using reelections, generally Latin
American countries are moving away from this pattern. Most new Latin American governments have given people hope and
achieved the new credibility in their governments.
There is no doubt that Uribe’s administration, supported by U.S., has caused much domestic and international damage.
This also plunders the image and influence of the U.S. in Latin America. This is a strategic region where the ideas of
change, democracy and transparency are beginning to diverge from what the traditional American policies have supported
in the region. Before, the U.S. was able to put local puppets into the governments of most of the Latin American
countries. But now Latin America is slowly choosing its own path. It seems to be moving in the direction of European
Union ideals of mutual cooperation. It seems that new Socialism and Leftism in Latin America are modeled after social
democracies European style.
Colombia has recently been the centerpiece of the U.S. – Latin American policy. And Latin American policy of the United
States is not working well nowadays. The blind and unconditional support of Alvaro Uribe’s by former President Bush and
the Republicans dropped the U.S. prestige in the region to a record low. Last year, the Organization of the American
Sates, in the past loyal to the U.S., rebelled. In a region where national sovereignty is sacred, Colombia’s
U.S.-supported violation of Ecuador’s air space and territory received unanimous condemnation from all the Spanish
speaking countries, plus Brazil and Haiti.
The U.S. have been supporting the same politics in Colombia for years, despite the now overwhelming evidence on all of
Uribe’s cozy criminal lenience, and the rise of narco-trafficking and paramilitaries there. This political support has
never been rethought by the U.S. administration. This brings a case to mind. When experts in the Middle East
demonstrated that a war against Iraq would benefit Iran’s influence in the region and would create the Shiite corridor
in Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon-Palestine, no one in the Bush administration ever reflected on those facts.
Colombia is a similar trap for the U.S. The U.S. policies in Colombia are supporting para-politics (Uribeism) and with
it: drug trafficking, ultra-right wing terrorism and grave civil rights abuse. Colombia current “security” is like the
Pakistan’s infiltrated “intelligence”, but with the aggravation of refined corruption, deeply imbedded drugs roots, and
its terrorist traditions. This whole package today is financed by the U.S. There are no guaranties that Plan Colombia
will not have even more counter-productive consequences in the nearest future, neither that the FTA will not fall on
criminal hands. These facts should not be ignored by the Republicans and Obama’s administration.
In the long run, Uribe’s policy is likely to result in a costly damage both to Colombia interests and to the U.S. policy
in the region. Even Sadam Hussein did more to protect U.S. interests in the Middle East than Uribe in Latin America. In
his war against Iran, Sadam received U.S. military financing, weapons and training. In return Sadam kept Iran isolated.
Uribe has not delivered any real benefit to U.S. He has only fostered conditions for a military conflict in the
Americas. Alvaro Uribe lack of military and diplomatic skills and his poor judgment have brought Colombia to the
conflict with its neighboring countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Therefore, it would be unwise for the new U.S. government to continue a policy of ex-president’s George Bush, and the
Republicans, in the region. President Obama and his Latin American advisers shouldn’t believe that the current Colombian
government is good for the U.S. the way it is now. It even seems more beneficial for the U.S to do business with the
leftist Latin American governments, than to keep pursuing advantageous business at high political cost with the right or
ultra-right government of Colombia. Some Leftist Latin American countries turned out to be good business partners for
the U.S. Brazil is a good example of this (with a leftist administration) as well as Chile (with a Socialist one).