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Controversial Georgetown gig for Colombia's Alvaro Uribe

Alvaro uribe georgetown ap

The arrival of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at Georgetown University is sparking campus debate on the two-term leader's legacy in security and human rights. Uribe starts work this semester as a "Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership" at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, where he will conduct seminars and other programs, the university said.

"We are thrilled that [Uribe] has identified Georgetown as a place where he will share his knowledge and interface with Washington, and I know that our students at the School of Foreign Service will benefit greatly from his presence," said the Georgetown school's dean, Carol Lancaster, in a university statement.

But not everyone in the Georgetown community is reacting with such enthusiasm. In comments on the personal site of university professor Anthony Clark Arend, one commenter identified as Charity Ryerson, a Georgetown law student, wrote:

I am a student at the law center and have worked extensively with the Colombian human rights community. While he was Governor of Antioquia, Alvaro Uribe was instrumental in the creation of the Convivirs, private self defense organizations that later morphed into the Colombian United Self Defense Forces, a paramilitary organization that has killed tens of thousands of Colombian civilians with the support of the Colombian state. As recently as 2006, the paramilitaries and the Colombian military ate together at the same military bases and carried out joint operations.

He routinely publicly denounced human rights defenders in his country, falsely claiming that they had ties to the guerrilla organizations in order to undermine their work. His party continues to work with illegal armed groups in the country, a situation which he, at a minimum, tolerated. He spied on opposition leaders and human rights defenders. His own DAS (similar to the FBI) passed hit lists to the paramilitaries containing names of trade unionists and human rights defenders, many of which were later killed.

And now Georgetown has legitimated him and his legacy by making him a “Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership.” This is an offense to the thousands of victims of his administration, to the human rights community in the US and Colombia, and is an embarrassment to Georgetown University. This decision should be reconsidered.

The commenter added a link to a tough-worded letter the group Human Rights Watch sent to U.S. President Barack Obama over Uribe's human rights record during his government's crackdown on the leftist FARC guerrillas.

Nevertheless, Uribe left Colombia's presidency with a high approval rating, and in June, Colombian voters elected Uribe's chosen successor, Juan Manuel Santos, by a margin of more than 40 percentage points.

"The legacy of Uribe, I think, is huge," said Myles Frechette, former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, in The Washington Times. "He restored Colombians' confidence in their own country. He showed them that if the government put its mind to it, it could — with assistance from the United States — beat back the guerrillas."

Colombia is the United States' closest ally in Latin America, receiving more than $7 billion in military aid since the implementation of "Plan Colombia," the equally contested aid agreement that helped Uribe's government in its efforts against drug-trafficking and terrorism.

Santos now takes up pending negotiations to allow the U.S. to use Colombian military bases and for a free-trade agreement between the two countries, which is also being protested on the Georgetown campus.

In addition to his new university job, Uribe will be busy this fall in the U.S. as vice chair of a United Nations panel on Israel's deadly raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Alvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (24)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Charity Ryerson, just because you work "extensively" with Colombia does not make you an expert on the subject. If you'd live there in the 90's maybe you'd understand. But you don't. Uribe's dad was killed by the FARC, what makes you think he'd protect them?
There are many many many problems in Colombia, and both FARC and whatever you fight for merely scratch the surface.
Why don't you focus on fighing to fix your own country first?

Charity Ryerson has no idea of whats it like living with drug dealers killing thousands...
maybe she should find out whats it's like...

This is a complex issue , even more difficult to analyze if you did not know the Colombia of the 90s (bombs, hijacks, rampant kidnappings, etc.). It is easy for an student (who by the way I read is an activist of the left and has even been to jail) to take a look at Uribe's work in 2006 and criticize what he does. I lived in Colombia in the 90s, left the country because of the political problems and returned two years ago, and I can tell you the big difference in security, education and well-being that I can see. But do not believe me, I think you just have to ask Colombians their opinion. You will find that is no luck that Uribe is often called the Best President Ever in the country, and more importantly, he is one of the most popular (80%) expresidents of the country. Forget the local opinions of a left-wing student and look at the facts. What local Colombians think of Alvaro Uribe.

I think , they should have lived in colombia back in the 9o´s before Uribes age, and then realise what human rights violation mean, most of the Colombian can say thx to him becouse for us before him used to be normal being killed and see bombs all around, and after he arrives horror it´s mostly gone. as Colombian ask for respect , mister Uribe changed for good our country, but there are still Idiots thinking he was bad, and as a professional I think u owe him ur respect, becouse he is well prepared, be proud and don´t follow the Farc campaign. THX U PRESIDENT URIBE FORM MOST OF THE REAL CLEVER PEOPLE!!!

"Lucky for me, in this country, this allegation is not a death sentence as it is in Colombia". This is very disrespectful Charity. You should reconsider the way you express about Colombia, especially since this a public forum and Colombia is different country now... and therefore our difference is NOT ethical, it IS factual. You are not well informed and it is shame for your name and your university.... Come to the field and talk to the poor people in this country and you will know the only TRUE... and real facts. Uribe is the best president we had ever have... Read more

I was born in Colombia and stayed there till age 13, when my parents out if fear for the already deteriorated and violent environment in that country, decided to move us out, in a sort of self-exile, to neighboring Venezuela.

We were people of no financial means, my father being an humble machinist and my mother a housewife and visiting nurse in her spare time. There were no financial breakthroughs or any of the like, but me and my 2 siblings kept in the public educational system all the way out of high school, and then payed our way into higher education.

The leftists here, most a rebel without any real cause, and the otherwise brain-washed little professors in the radical left, talk of things they know NOT. They are so imbecilic and supinely ignorant when they try passing judgment as to how Colombia ought to have been pacified--and set itself on the way to relative prosperity. Alvaro Uribe's tenure, 2 terms, achieved the latter, and his presidency was/is rather revealing of the political will of the vast majority of Colombians. So much for hard facts...Whether you useful idiots in the left like or not, it is totally irrelevant.

I live here in the US, and this is a GREAT country where millions, without skin color, religious affiliation or other like distinctions, have prospered and reared their families in peace and without the misery, the violence and the abject poverty the left is intent on prolonging in Latin America. The latter is their "hidden" but not so much, desire or agenda as they actively, even now, seek to subvert society, the system of liberties and the open political discourse thereby, in an attempt to take us back to the failed experiments of the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, Albania or similar.

Would you stop, and realize, if only for a minute, that he who writes these words grew up in Latin America and knew NO progress or justice or peace or opportunities there?

To the mentally onanistic leftist college brat: if you are so rigidly set in your dialectic materialism, show me then your own achievements: let us see if you're good at math, or science, or medicine, perhaps chemistry or physics or any hard and relevant science...Most of these mediocre puny minds vegetate around our campuses here in the US for years on end, their tickets and hamburgers being paid fully by their ignorant or rather naive parents. Their desire goes no longer than to become a "community activist" who produces nothing but their excrement, and their disaffection to hard work, historical accuracy, discipline, good manners and respect for others--namely those who can really bear witness to what it is like to grow in a 3rd world country long penetrated by the left where nothing works, life is worth a hoot, if any, and prosperity is something prohibited--even if you produce with your own bare hands.

To you all in the left, here is what veritably redeems any human being: WORK, WORK, WORK and MORE of it. You may not ever get it because you're to wimpy, to dull in the mind, to cowardly to face it. You're condemned to be, as they would call you in Colombia: PROFUGOS del AZADON.

Angela, everybody keeps talking about that famous DEA list in which Uribe is listed as #82. I've looked in the DEA website and his name doesn't show up as a drug trafficker.
I'm not saying that President Uribe is a saint but he is BY FAR, the best president we've ever had in Colombia. He disbanded the Paras and even though not all the Paras gave up their weapons, he fought the ones that didn't. He also fought the Guerrillas unlike any other president in Colombia.
For us to have a better future we need to first o fix the security problems in our country and then focus on the social, education and economic problems. I have confidence that President Santos will focus his presidency more on these issues (Social, Education, Economic) but no it is all because we (Colombia) is safer today than it was 10 years ago and is all due to President Uribe.

People like Amparo Kacius are the URIBESTIAS, ignorants that love blindly this criminal, that they think the only problem in colombia are the FARC. The paramilitaries ARE ALSO TERRORISTS LIKE THE FARC, and ALVARO URIBE HAS BEEN THE LEADER OF THIS TERRORISTS. His family have been drug traffickers, he has been a drug trafficker and that's why he is listed number 82 in the DEA's list. His brothers and cousins are now in prison for being leaders of paramilitaries groups and drug dealers, and people are so naive to think that he is a saint and has nothing to do with it? Uribe is a criminal and should face charges with the ICC! (International Criminal Court-Corte penal internacional) and put in prison like ex-presidents Fujimori and Videla!

Mr. Clarck is right, Alvaro Uribe; creator, supporter of CONVIVIR, (Medellin Cartel Army), year later became the worse criminals movement call "PARAMILITARES AUC", today colombia have this kind of army all over his territory. Nobody believe that AUC leave the arms; they still own the best land and they influence is total, politicly and economicly. According with the WBG World Bank Group, colombia after 8 years of Alvaro Uribe has close 50 percent of his people en the poverty and 15 of them in the misery. Colombia don't deserve that only few families own colombia. I'm not again rich people, I'm again to let babys die of starve when colombia has enough food. Guerrilla and paramilitares AUC, are basically the same; violence and cocaine.

Well, when I first read this blog I wished that the author would have quoted Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Colombia, or any of many other reputable sources who have spoken out against Uribe's crimes against humanity, rather than me. I encourage the commentators calling me "naive" to have a look at those reports.

Though, from reading these comments, I sense that you think the extrajudicial executions, the false positives, the illegal wiretapping, persecution of human rights defenders, and so on, was all worth it. It's not that you deny the well-documented facts, it is that you accept and approve of them.

If that is the case, our difference is ethical, not factual.

JJ, neither I, nor the human rights groups I "cavort" with are FARC sympathizers. Those we work with in Colombia have been victimized by both sides. Lucky for me, in this country, this allegation is not a death sentence as it is in Colombia.

While Uribe made such slander of his opponents "acceptable" in Colombia, in most of the rest of the world, it is not.

Hoping that the true comes out and all the people can know who is really Mr. Uribe, not the saint that some people believe.

The only instrument that had Uribe's regime to defend their affairs was accusing all his accusers of being guerrillas friends. You could be totally sure that all the security organism of Mr Uribe could investigate me and thousands of people who didn't believed in his regime without finding the littlest trace of guerrilla contact or cooperacion. It's completely false that only guerrilla allies were against Uribe's Regime. Time and facts will prove the falsehood of goodness of that regime.

Only for ignorance of the real interest of Mr. Uribe someone could defend his political affair. Mr. Uribe abused of the good will and ignorance of political affairs of Colombian voters. About 50% of Colombians able to vote don't vote for they don't believe in the Colombian regime. I believed for about 5 year in Colombian regime until the true "show its head through the wall". I admire the amazing capability of Mr. Uribe to deceive people and making them believing that his lies are trues. Studentes of the universtiy should come to Colombia and listening different kind of people to realized the reality of Colombia.

It is offensive for smater and good will people in Colombia knowing that a man who was able to violate law and constitution for his alone personal interes in some cases, poses now as great man, even when can be proved his permanent power abuse. National and international media published facts that involved Alvaro Uribe with political power abuse. A nation as USA that is proud of its permanet interest in keeping democracy and respect to human rights should feel embarassed in receiveing this sort of simuluted democrats.

Charity Ryerson is naiive. The Human Rights groups with whom she cavorts are FARC sympathizers. Uribe saved Colombia from failed-state status. The Convivirs and Paras were logical outgrowths of a country that lacked a strong centralized government for many years, and could not provide security for it's people. That the paras and others committed crimes is not Uribe's doing.What of the atrocities committed by the guerillas and the narcos, and the gang members? Medellin today is experiencing a gang war. Should there not be private security to protect businesses? I have yet to see definitive links between Uribe and murders of innocents. The connections are tenuous.
To use the same logic as the Palestinian and Al-Queda apologists: one man's security guards are another man's private army.

This is the greatest scholar, philosopher, human beign, politician, patriot and leader our country has had the pleasure of electing. I feel sorry for all the leftist and ignorant homosapiens who can't see the forest for the trees. I'll bet they are willing to side with Chavez in calling the murderous FARC and ELN guerrillas liberators of the oppressed.

Miguel A. Soto

Mr. Uribe and Colombians in general believe that the people of the US share the same views as its corrupt government... and they are both wrong: people in the US look with contempt to tyrants and assassins like Mr. Uribe...

It's a pity Uribe is supported by mass murderers, drug traffickers, and paramilitary warlords; otherwise, he was a good president. At least that's what Colombians tell me.

President ALVARO URIBE VELEZ is loved for the majority of all Colombians but not for the terrorists who were destroyed under his presidency. The good Colombians are very thankful for all his work for Colombia and Latin America. He stopped the comunism from spreading along SouthAmerica and brough Colombia to be a safer and better place. The "Mamertos", that is the name we call the ones that cry for the disapperance of the guerrillas-paramilitaries, can not accept that they were defeated by him and they are trying to create a negative image of our beloved president but we, the good Colombians, are here to tell everybody of what he did for us.
The people that oppose our president are supporting the terrorism and does not have any idea about my country, otherwise, they were thankful also to have him in this prestigious university.

My advise to all the students is to listen and learn from somebody that know the real McCoy and go to Colombia and find out first hand of what I am saying.
!Viva Colombia!

I believe that the people who protest Dr. Uribe's presence at Georgetown and his legacy in Colombia are naive. They deny the complexities of fighting an enemy that hides behind feigned concern over indigenous rights and representation of the poor. FARC and groups before them have terrorized all Colombians for more than 50 years with bombings, kidnappings, using child captives as soldiers the drug trade, and fear. He should be given credit for restoring security and hope and continuing to defend and uphold 200 years of democracy when others have used violence, hate, and propaganda to destroy it.


Dear Charity Ryerson, student of Georgetown University. I have been always surprised at the ignorance of many American Students in regards to how they think live is in other countries. Again I confirmed that ignorance when I read the comments of some of the students about this article.
The terrorists who killed 3000 people on Sep 11, 2001 are the same kind of terrorists that killed, kidnapped, murdered, extortionated many Colombians before 2002. Colombians could not drive from one city to another for fear to be kidnapped on the road by the same kind of terrorists who wants to kill Americans all over the world.
President Uribe was elected by 62% of Colombian voters on 2002 when he promised during his campaign to go after the terrorists who had Colombia under siege. He was also re-elected four (4) years later by 69% of Colombian voters who were very satisfied with the results of his administration. Let me remain you that President Uribe is the only Colombian who has been re-elected to office. Colombians were so positively satisfied with him and the results of his administration that they voted to change the constitution and make re-election possible to re-elect President Uribe.
President Uribe political adversaries were so disgusted at the success and excellent results of Mr. Uribe that they tried by all means to attack him. All kind of stories were made about him and all kind of accusations were made to his administration.
None of the accusations made to him by his adversaries were ever proved. Those never proved accusations showed the vast majority of Colombians the bad intentions of his adversaries.
The only way to know the way of live in other countries is to go and visit those countries. I would like these Americans students to go and stay one week in Colombia and see how beautiful Colombia is. When you visit Colombia please ask Colombians their opinion about President Uribe. These students will realized how more than 76% of Colombians love President Uribe and live in a better Colombia than the one prior to 2002.
Colombians Love President Uribe the same way Americans love President Kennedy or President Reagan.

Agustin Aljure

I dont want to see this person teaching in any university posing as a great men qhen he use the DAS as his personal mafia. Here in Colombia, the Constitucional Court has been under threat by the DAS following direct orders from the Presidential House. Uribe is not a saint, he should be in jail.

This is a document from the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "82. Alvaro Uribe Velez - a Colombian politician and senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medellin Cartel at high government levels. Uribe was linked to a business involved in narcotics activities in the US. His father was murdered in Colombia for his connection with the narcotic traffickers. Uribe has worked for the Medellin Cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar Gaviria. Has participated in Escobar's political campaign to win the position of assistant parliamentarian to Jorge (Ortega). Uribe has been one of the politicians, from the senate, who has attacked all forms of the extradition treaty." http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB131/dia910923.pdf

I have traveled and lived in Barranquila & Valledupar in Colombia. My wife is Colombian and without a doubt President Uribe has made a positive difference. Farc has attacked and bomb many locations. Mr Chavez from Venezuela and Mr Correa of Ecuador have/continue to help the rebels & both have received drug money.
Without some type of security (for the people & business)a country cannot function and grow i.e. Free Trade with different countries.
He is a lawyer by training & studied at Harvard & Oxford.
His father was killed by Farc but he speaks intelligently about Colombia not about revenge.
Do not take my word nor a law student's word -- let the people of Colombia speak for themselves and they elected their new President -Mr. Santos former Minister of Defense for Uribe and to this day is very highly regarded not feared.


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