Prosecuting Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryColombians are metaphorically up in arms against former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over war crimes he is said to have committed. Marches and demonstration in all major cities in Colombia calling for a war crimes tribunal and prosecution of Uribe have grown since the documented revelations of the crimes he is said to have committed have been made known. Current Colombian President Ivan Duque has so far resisted setting up a war crimes tribunal to deal with Uribe, but how long can he resist growing indignation? Documentation shows that Uribe has been responsible for the massacre in El Aro, a small village where paramilitaries terrorized the place and the people for days. Uribe has been implicated in wholesale massacres of innocent people in the Antioquia Department when Uribe was governor from 1995 to 1998. An estimated 3,500 were killed during this time. Uribe was involved in a paramilitary operation against leftist guerrillas in Medellin in which 77 innocent people were killed when he was president in 2007. Finally, Uribe has been accused of being involved in one of the most bizarre and horrifying war crimes of all—the deliberate murder of civilians and dressing them up as leftist guerrillas so that the Colombian military could demonstrate they were fighting the guerrillas. An estimated 4,000 people have been murdered this way.

The only reason Uribe has not been formally charged in any of this is because as president and former governor he has enjoyed political immunity from being tried as a head of state. Despite the thousands who had been deliberately murdered by his policies, the Colombian government seems reluctant to want to put Uribe on trial. For all those hundreds of thousands of Colombian families who lost loved ones because of Uribe’s policies, this is to put it mildly hard to take. Some have suggested that Uribe be extradited to the The Hague in the Netherlands to stand trial there for war crimes. But that can only happen if the Colombian government would consider such a move. It is possible that if enough Colombians petition The Hague to call for a trial of Uribe, the the International Criminal Court in the Hague might take up the case. This would put considerable pressure on the Colombian government to do something. But will it do anything? Will it bring justice for all those who have been victimized by Uribe? Will it open a new chapter of justice in Colombia? This has yet to be seen.

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