Former President Álvaro Uribe was ordered arrested by the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia on August 4, 2020, an action widely seen as a violation of his legal and constitutional rights. The details of the case show his arrest was arbitrary and an affront to international standards of justice and fairness.
The truth is that this case is entirely political, driven by political allies of the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), whom Uribe drove into near extinction when he was president. The FARC couldn’t kill him, overthrow him, or silence him – so they now seek to jail him.
In 2000, President Andrés Pastrana and U.S. President Bill Clinton launched “Plan Colombia” – a 15-year, $10 billion security aid program designed to break the stranglehold of drug cartels and the FARC on the Colombian people. It enjoyed broad, bipartisan support in Congress and was expanded by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Plan Colombia was a major foreign policy success for the United States, with President Uribe credited for crucial strategic victories that restored the country’s security and economic revival while disarming tens of thousands of paramilitaries and FARC guerillas before he left office.
In 2008, Uribe ordered the successful operation that rescued three Americans along with Ingrid Betancourt, his Green Party presidential opponent in 2002, and 11 other hostages who had been kidnapped by the FARC and held for years at a jungle prison camp where they were tortured. In 2009, President Bush awarded Uribe the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and recalled the phone call from Uribe, informing him that the American hostages were safe. “By refusing to allow the land he loves to be destroyed by an enemy within, by proving that terror can be opposed and defeated, President Uribe has reawakened the hopes of his countrymen and shown a model of leadership to a watching world,” Bush said at the ceremony.
The FARC has vowed revenge against Uribe for decades, and when warfare didn’t work, they turned to “lawfare”. They joined with their most militant supporter in Colombian politics, Senator Ivan Cepeda of the far-left Alternative Democratic Pole, to wage a relentless political campaign to deprive Uribe of his freedom in order to silence him. Uribe’s constitutional rights have been repeatedly violated in this case, with illegal measures by judges that no justice system in the free world would permit. Worse yet, Uribe’s right to defend himself in freedom were taken away while avowed FARC terrorist leaders – including those who plotted to kill Uribe during his presidency – walk free.
The outrage over this case has become a matter of international concern among the defenders of democratic ideals. The Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) expressed its “solidarity” with Álvaro Uribe, and 21 former elected presidents and prime ministers of Spain and Latin America, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, called for Uribe to be freed.