Uribe Liberation And Colombia’s War Against The FARC

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The former president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was released from his house arrest, Colombian justice decreed, on October 10, 2020. Uribe was under house arrest since August 4th of this year. In a virtual hearing, warrant judge Clara Salcedo overthrew house arrest at the request of the defense and with the agreement of the prosecutor. The judge did not rule on the case itself, but responded to the request that as she resigned from her position in 2014, the politician should no longer be investigated at the highest level of Colombian justice. 

Uribe was president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010. His government’s strength was the fight against the guerrilla group of Colombia called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and partner of the São Paulo Forum. Both groups were created by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the former president of Brazil, Lula. In a tweet Uribe thanked God for the release, and the President of the United States also made a tweet thanking for the release of another ally against the Castro-Chavismo regime. We will now see a thread about Uribe’s actions against a flag that helped him to be elected twice in Colombia, with an enemy that covers all of Latin America.

The FARC has a relationship from this group with the Brazilian left. Álvaro Uribe is a lawyer who graduated from the University of Antioquia, with a specialization in Administration and Management from Harvard University Extension School. Between 1998 and 1999, he was a student at St Antony’s College, Oxford in England.

Uribe’s History

When he was a Columbian Senator, he promoted the campaign against Pablo Escobar’s extradition to the United States. Álvaro Uribe began his public life in 1976 and was head of goods for Medellín’s public companies. From 1977-1978, he was secretary general of the Ministry of Labor, and between 1980-1982, he was director of Civil Aeronautics. He was mayor of Medellín in 1982, and councilor of that city between 1984-1986.

He was senator of the Republic in the periods 1986-1990 and 1990-1994. He was also elected governor of the department of Antioquia from 1995-1997. In 2002, he was elected president of Colombia in the first round, with 53.1%. This election made Uribe the first and only president elected in the first round, supported by citizen signatures. This broke the classic bipartisanship and ushered in a new era of Colombian electoral politics. In November 2005, after approval by Congress and the Constitutional Reelection Court, Uribe announced that he would run again in the 2006 elections.

Uribe won again in the first round, with 62.2% of the votes. In August 2006, the Supreme Court of Brazil, Minister Gilmar Mendes, rapporteur of Extradition (Ex) 1008. After allowing the execution of house arrest for the Colombian Francisco Antonio Cadena Colazzos, better known as Father Oliverio Medina, determined the notification by the State of Colombia to express its opinion on the continuation of Extradition. Mendes shall submit to the plenary session of the Federal Supreme Court  the discussion of the provisions of article 33 of Law 9,474 / 1997.

Supreme Court Decisions

This rule provides that recognition of refugee status will prevent the follow-up of any request for extradition based on the facts that justified the granting of refuge. Also, to fully follow Minister Gilmar Mendes’ decision on granting house arrest and to fully follow up the notification from the Colombian State. On March 22, 2007, In Brasilia, the Supreme Federal Court closed the extradition request made by the Colombian government against former guerrilla Francisco Antonio Cadena Colazzos of the FARC. He is now usually known as Father Oliverio Medina, and has lived in Brazil since 1997.

Extradition was not granted, because the ex-guerrilla obtained refugee status from the Brazilian government. Under foreigners’ law, refugees cannot be extradited. The court also ordered the issuance of Oliverio Medina’s release permit and he has been in prison since June 2005. The Colombian government accuses Medina of involvement in crimes of murder, kidnapping, illegal possession of weapons, and rebellion.

In July 2006, the National Committee for Refugees (Conare), linked to the Ministry of Justice, gave Medina the status of political refugee. It was the first time that a person involved in the extradition process managed to be recognized as a refugee by Conare. On March 31, 2008, the Colombian army invaded the territory of Ecuador to attack a FARC camp. In that action, several guerrillas were killed, including the FARC number two, Raúl Reyes.

Ties to FARC

In this episode, Uribe accused Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan Hugo Chávez of having ties to the FARC. This has created a major diplomatic crisis that has not yet been fully resolved between these countries. Olivério Medina’s wife, the FARC representative in Brazil, was hired by the Lula government. On December 29, 2006, Angela Maria Slongo was appointed by the Minister of Fisheries, Altemir Gregolin, to the position of cabinet officer.

Angela Maria Slongo is the wife of Francisco Antonio Cadena Collazos, also known as Olivério Medina. The Ministry of Fisheries is directly linked to the office of the President of the Republic. Olivério Medina was imprisoned in Brasilia, at the request of Colombia (his country of origin), where he was accused of terrorist acts and murders. Angela Maria Slongo remains today equipped with the Ministry of Fisheries. 

In 2014, Uribe consolidated himself as the founding president of the Democratic Center Party. After getting away with Santos, due to the inconsistency in the policies adopted against the campaign proposals, Uribe started to lead a political opposition movement that later consolidated itself as a Party of the Democratic Center in 2014. Then, he formalized a new candidacy for the Senate of the Republic, as head of the list Democratic Center closed for the March 2014 elections, after which he was the most voted Senator. On that initial list was Senator Iván Duque, who in 2018 would win the presidency of Colombia.

The “NO” Campaign

In 2016 Uribe led the “NO” campaign to the Plebiscite for Peace, highlighting the dangers that a bad deal would bring to the country. It was a movement that, despite the budgetary and advertising disadvantage and state opposition, managed to win the election. So far, the Colombian state has made no material corrections to recognize the victory of NO. Thousands of protesters in Colombia responded to the call of former President Álvaro Uribe to protest the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the way he has conducted peace negotiations with the FARC. With slogans like “Renounce, Santos, people don’t want you,” the protests took place in more than 20 cities in Colombia, where men and women wearing yellow and red shirts carried posters that expressed rejection of government policies for security, employment, health, and education. 

In 2017, Uribe says Odebrecht’s (a Brazilian construction company) payments to the FARC strip the legitimacy of agreement. Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe said Odebrecht would have made payments to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. This adds to other aspects that negate the legitimacy of the peace agreement between the guerrillas and the government of Juan Manuel Santos. A staunch opponent of the initiative and political enemy of his former ally Santos, Uribe’s speech came after Veja magazine published that Odebrecht would have recognized that it had made payments to the FARC for two decades, in exchange for the security to carry out its works.

According to the France Presse agency, however, the construction company issued a statement in which it denied having made payments to the FARC. The former Colombian President says that the supposed payment to the guerrillas would be part of a strategy by the company and the leftist governments of Brazil. “It seems that those who claim that Odebrecht’s enormous wealth was due to the destruction of democracy and the implementation of socialism in the São Paulo Forum are right,” said Uribe.

Financing Questions

For the ex-leader, the construction of the port of Mariel in Cuba, with financing from the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), was only a strategy to “hide the gift from Lula to Castro,” referring to the former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Cuban leader, Raúl Castro. Uribe says that in Colombia, financing for terrorism was not exclusive to Odebrecht, and that other foreign companies would have previously made payments to the FARC and the National Liberation Army (NLA).

The former president says that the FARC leaders should be held responsible for their crimes. Uribe cites several reasons that for him deprive the agreement of legitimacy. In addition to the alleged payments by Odebrecht, the fact that the government lost the plebiscite on the subject, and the resulting impunity, as well as disrespect for the Constitution. “The FARC will not have to return the money, while many Colombians will be taken to the terrorist inquisition to stand trial for having been extorted by paramilitary,” by economic and tax uses from Santos and his allies.

In 2018, Uribe was head of the Democratic Center for Senate list, but this time the list was opened. He managed to obtain 875 thousand votes, being the most voted Senator in the history of Colombia. His support for Iván Duque was instrumental in his victory in the presidential election, with more than 10 million votes in the second round. In 2018, the federal deputy and son of the current president of Brazil Eduardo Bolsonaro was welcomed at the Uribe house. He also met with Eduardo Bittar, a member of the Venezuelan resistance group against Maduro, Rumbo Libertad. 

Final Thoughts

I do not consider Uribe a conservative in fact, but his fight against the FARC is always welcome. Anyone who fights against this force that is part of the axis of Latin American evil deserves a medal and the relationship of the workers’ party in Latin America. Brazil with the FARC is not new. We see just a little of their involvement above, so President Trump took the time to remember his support for Uribe, yet another ally against this right arm of the world left.

Author Profile

Augusto Oliveira
Augusto Oliveira
Augusto Oliveira is a writer and Brazil correspondent for NRN and a contributor to NRN+ Magazine. Residing in Brazil, he's a recent civil engineering graduate who enjoys reading, writing, and editing videos.