Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Interview: Álvaro Uribe

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on May 19, 2011

by Elizabeth Dickinson for Foreign Policy, May 17, 2011.

Colombia’s former president tells FP how his country came back from the brink, why he’s staying in politics, and why it’s dangerous (but worth it) to be on Twitter.

FP: You have recently sparred with President Santos about the inclusion of the terminology “armed conflict” in the Victims Law currently under consideration in Congress. Why is this distinction important?

AU: I will speak to you in political terms. In Latin America in the past, we used to speak about insurgency and domestic conflict. These two concepts had a heavy burden of political meaning. In some degree, these two concepts gave legitimacy to the fight of guerrillas against dictators. This has not been the case of Colombia. In Colombia, these criminal groups have a vendetta against the rule of law, against the [oldest] democracy in the continent. This is one reason we call them terrorists, not to recognize them with any legitimacy as political players.

The other reason [is if you] compare the [Colombian] groups with other Latin American guerrillas, the others never financed themselves with narcotrafficking. Ours did. And of course, when we have certain neighboring governments [that give] speeches of acknowledgment — complimentary speeches to our violent groups — if we recognize these groups as political players, to some degree, we authorize implicitly the neighboring governments to ask for the recognition of that status as legitimacy for these groups.

[Finally,] there are countries — the United States, Europe, or Canada — that have signaled these groups as terrorists. If we give these groups any political meaning, these countries could be disconcerted. Other countries could become mute.

FP: In the United States, some would consider it a bit out of place for a former president to be actively commenting on the administration of his predecessor. What role do you see yourself playing now in Colombian politics? (continue reading… )

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