Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe has come under fire recently as renewed attempts to broker a peace deal between the government and FARC militia have stalled and reopened old wounds.
Wednesday was a highly contentious day in the Colombian Senate as leftist lawmakersled by Senator Ivan Cepada of the Alternative Democratic Pole interrogated the former president and current senator in regards to his alleged connections to drug traffickers and right wing paramilitary groups.
Left-leaning Senator Cepeda has led the recent wave of condemnation against the afflicted Uribe, and delivered a 90-minute speech in which he presented extensive evidence outlining supposed connections between Uribe and former drug traffickers, as well as paramilitary leaders. For years, critics have waged accusations of supposedly suspicious connections between Uribes rise to power in the 1980s at a time when powerful drug traffickers such as Pablo Escobar played a commanding role in Colombias domestic affairs.
As Joshua Goodman of the Associated Press explains, Cepeda presented documents and testimony by former paramilitaries, many of whose claims have previously been known, feeding rumors and suspicions about Uribe. The former president has dismissed them as politically motivated. Many involve his family and date from the start of his political career in Medellin when the city was dominated by Pablo Escobar’s cocaine cartel.
Uribewho served as President from 2002-2010has made a comeback to the Colombian political sphere during the past year, which has been marked by his staunch opposition to President Santoss re-election and his plan to broker a lasting peace deal with the FARC militia. During this years elections, Uribe made it clear that he was still a decidedly popular figure amongst the Colombian electorate after receiving the highest tally of votes amongst all senators.
As Goodman goes on to explain, Uribe reacted to Cepedas condemnations in the Senate chamber by leaving, the legislature at the start of the session in protest. He called it a “moral lynching” promoted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the “media servants of terrorism.”
But after walking across Plaza Bolivar to present evidence to the Supreme Court accusing Cepeda of slander, Uribe returned to defend his record and attack the current administration.
Political analysts in the country dont deny the political nature of Cepedas accusations as a tool to weaken the obstructionist role Uribe has played in the governments peace negotiations; but as the peace negotiations continue to stall, theyve done little to unite and much to polarize the Colombian people.