Álvaro Uribe denounces Juan Manuel Santos as a defense tactic in his case for witness tampering | International


Former President Álvaro Uribe reads a statement after his house arrest was ordered in 2020
Former President Álvaro Uribe reads a statement after his house arrest was ordered in 2020STRINGER (REUTES)

Álvaro Uribe is going to take his case to justice until the last consequences and wants to take his enemies along the way. The lawyers of the former president of Colombia have filed a complaint on Wednesday against his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, and a magistrate of the Constitutional Court for having allegedly influenced the process opened against him for the purchase of witnesses and procedural fraud. Uribe is the character who has starred in the political life of the country during the last two decades, he has been omnipresent. After finishing his term in 2010, he chose Santos as his successor and later promoted Iván Duque, the current president.

With Santos, however, the break was total. That was the true turning point of Colombian society, the moment when the country became polarized. The right and the political center, installed in power for a long time, split into two halves. Santos carried out a peace process with the FARC, the guerrilla that has risen in arms for more than 50 years, which culminated successfully after a very long and exhausting process. Uribe was the great opponent who tried to prevent this from happening, despite the fact that he had tried to reach agreements with the guerrillas during his time as president. Now, Uribe directly accuses Santos of being behind his case as a kind of revenge.

You have to go back eight years to find the origin of this plot. In 2012, Senator Iván Cepeda tried to demonstrate Uribe’s ties to paramilitarism, armed civilian forces that acted outside the law. It is a shadow that has always haunted Uribe, whose father was assassinated by guerrillas. To defend himself, the ex-president filed a complaint against Cepeda before the Supreme Court for an alleged conspiracy, with false witnesses in Colombian prisons, in order to involve him in far-right criminal activities. These armed groups began by confronting the guerrillas, but ended up involved in drug trafficking and extortion. They are responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia. But it was not until mid-2018 that the case had a twist, as the high court, after almost six years of investigations, decided to archive the process against Cepeda and instead asked to investigate Uribe – at that time a senator – under the suspicion that he and his lawyers were the ones who manipulated witnesses. Everything turned against him.

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The original complaint from witnesses such as ex-paramilitary Juan Guillermo Monsalve, son of the administrator of an old property belonging to the Uribe family, indicates that on that farm, the Guacharacas farm, a self-defense bloc was formed in the 1990s, when Uribe was Governor of the department of Antioquia. Monsalve, considered a key witness in the case, refused to testify again before “a biased and biased Prosecutor’s Office, where Mr. Uribe Vélez seems more like a victim than a defendant,” as his lawyer justified, Miguel Angel del Rio. He said then that he would only testify “before an impartial judge, in a public, oral, transparent hearing.” Uribe’s defense has sought to discredit Monsalve’s testimony.

The magistrate Alejandro Linares decided on the guardianship of Uribe, who was under house arrest for a time. The complaint to the prosecution filed by the former president’s lawyers is that during the process the crimes of omission of complaint and influence peddling, among others, were committed. In writing, to which you have had access Time, Linares is said to have publicly confessed that Santos called him and other judges when Uribe’s case was being studied. “We are asking that a court order examine Linares’ cell phone to determine how many calls the former president Santos received from his friend.” In his opinion, no representative of justice can allow influence or pressure in his judicial decisions.

With this lawsuit, Uribe wants the Court to remove his status as a defendant and thus close the case once and for all. The politician has presented constant appeals that have delayed the process. This seems like one more tactic in that sense. Uribism has been losing integers in recent years. Uribe himself is aware, and has said so publicly, that his influence is no longer enough to put more presidents. The popularity of Duque, the current one, is so low that a victory for his party seems highly unlikely. The government’s actions during the protests and the crisis have been very fractured. Uribe could put his remaining political credit on a more moderate candidate, from the center, who tries to prevent the coming to power of Gustavo Petro, the left-wing candidate that the Colombian establishment fears the most.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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