Colombian Ex-President Uribe should be given due process

Posted on Oct 10, 2020
Raleigh, NC

Two Colombian lawyers, Pedro Pizano and Andrés Manosalva, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times Spanish edition last week, wherein they described a potential political and legal inflection point in Colombia. Ex-president Álvaro Uribe has been placed under house arrest to inhibit his potential ability to tamper with witnesses in a case against him. The prosecution argues that his lawyer has threatened and bribed witnesses in a legal case against him. Few powerful politicians are successfully prosecuted in Colombia, and Uribe is perhaps the most powerful Colombian politician of the last two decades.

Colombia has a, perhaps exaggerated, reputation as a violent country, but in 2016 murder rate dropped to the lowest its been in decades. While still high, the rate is moving in the right direction, and is just a third of what it was a few decades ago. A large factor of this decline is due to the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, a military group that has waged guerrilla war against the government for decades. Yet Pizano and Manosalva argue that recent rhetoric about the prosecution of Uribe, both from supporters and detractors, has the possibility of bringing back violence to Colombia. They argue for unbiased prosecution, transparency, and due process, so that, whatever the outcome, people have confidence that it wasn’t political. They ask Colombians to debate the Uribe case with evidence and without labels.

[1] “Los colombianos deben debatir el caso Uribe con evidencias y sin etiquetas” by Pedro Pizano and Andrés Manosalva, published in the New York Times on Sept 30, 2020.