Tuesday, September 08, 2009

More on Colombia, Uribe, Re-Re-Election, and Abuses of Power

I mentioned last week that Uribe's government was looking scarier and scarier, with allegations that he's using Colombia's internal security apparatus, the DAS, to gather information about his opposition. It turns out, it may be even uglier than originally reported:

The former ICT director of Colombia's intelligence service DAS confirmed a leaked testimony wherein he alleged that the DAS was engaged in drug trafficking by paramilitary organization AUC and wiretapping government critics. President Alvaro Uribe was aware of the service’s illegal activities, the director said.

"The only thing I can say is that during [former director Jorge] Noguera’s tenure, drug trafficking was carried out by the DAS with the participation of senior DAS officials," Garcia said to Noticias Uno.

Garcia also alleged in the newscast interview that DAS gave weapons to the now demobilized paramilitary Northern Bloc, and that several local DAS directors were appointed by explicit request from the paramilitaries.

If even one of these allegations is remotely true, it's some of the most damning evidence yet of Uribe's direct ties to paramilitary groups and, perhaps more importantly, the drug trade. The fact that he has not been investigated or punished for this is disturbing enough; the fact that Colombians continue to overwhelmingly support him in spite of increasing evidence that Uribe is connected to illegal paramilitary groups and activities is more disheartening for the future of Colombia.

Of course, even some of Uribe's supporters are beginning to waver in their support in the wake of the approval for his third term last week. The typically-great Plan Colombia and Beyond has some choice quotations from Colombian newspapers last week. For example:
This is not the moment to be complacent about Colombian democracy, nor with the will of the majority. It is time to pass from yellow to red alert. The government and its congressional supporters possess absolute power, and they have demonstrated that they will not be detained by legal or regulatory barriers, nor will they respect the Constitution. It must not be forgotten that the majority of coups d’etat have been directed by charismatic leaders – prominently that of Hitler in 1933 – … and that they are carried out with the collaboration or complicity of legislators who are captive, attracted, coopted or intimidated by the executive backed by the military or by popular majorities.
Usually Hitler analogies are grossly abused, but in this case, the parallel (that dangerous, charismatic leaders often arise to power with the aid of legislators) isn't without merit.

While one might hope that this turning on Uribe from many of Colombia's traditional journalistic supporters of the president might indicate that the third term is not guaranteed. As lfm remarks in the comments over there, "we will see a lot of intoning these days from “very serious people” about checks, balances, limits on personal power, rules of the game, constitutional democracy, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it will be fun to see by May how many of those will be voting for Uribe." That unfortunately hits the nail on the head - one can hope that this will work against Uribe, but most likely, when push comes to shove, Colombians in May will look the other way on his hunger for power and his connections to gross human rights violations, and will vote him in for another term, allowing a culture of impunity, double-standards, and hypocrisy to continue with no real gains.