The former president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe Vélez, in Valencia (Spain), in January 2023.Biel Aliño ((EPA) EFE)
Former President Álvaro Uribe wants to be a historic president, the kind that appears in bold in textbooks. One of his collaborators, in an excess of grandiloquence, once said in public that she already perceived the shine of bronze in him. Uribe listened in bewilderment. The eight years of his government at the beginning of the century changed the course of Colombia and, if it were up to him, it would have remained another four more. Instead he put the next two presidents, candidates handpicked by him. Uribismo was then a predominant force in the country. Over time, his political cycle wore out and the nation ended up in the hands of Gustavo Petro, his nemesis. Uribe fears that his legacy will be erased like the waves of the sea undo the footprints in the sand.
His biggest concern, according to those around him, is to end up being the first convicted president in the history of Colombia. Uribe is bogged down by a case that started in 2018 and from which he wants to get rid of at all costs. For now he has not succeeded, despite the fact that he maneuvered so that it fell into the Attorney General’s Office, in the hands of a prosecutor chosen by one of the presidents that he put in the chair, Iván Duque. The judges, for now, have avoided filing the case. The second time, this Tuesday, when a judge refuted the arguments of the Prosecutor’s Office to dismiss the case for witness tampering and procedural fraud. Seeing him sitting on the defendant’s bench seems more and more likely.
During this time, the president has limited his appearances in public. He has rarely left his comfort zone, he limits himself to appearing in forums where he feels supported or in acts of his party, where he is little less than a God. He spends long periods of time surrounded by horses on his farm in Antioquia or in Cordoba, far from Bogotá. The case has minimized the appearances of a man who marked the country’s agenda for almost two decades. He has affected her so much that he never wants to talk to anyone alone in a room, he always asks for a witness. His words are recorded as if he were perpetually accompanied by a notary.
The astute Petro, as soon as he came to power, pointed to Uribe as his main opponent. It was a way of deactivating those who wanted to get their head off and in the process of empowering a political enemy who was in his lowest hour. To Petro’s right sits Senator Iván Cepeda, who started all this judicial labyrinth. Uribe sued Cepeda for witness tampering – the senator insisted that the former president had ties to paramilitaries – and, when the Court investigated the case, it considered that the person who could be falsifying information was Uribe, who was trying to muddy Cepeda.
Petro’s right-hand man delivers a speech of reconciliation and forgiveness, similar to the one that occurred in Northern Ireland with the end of the IRA. In his head is to form a concertation government in a few years, when the country is ready. When asked if that understanding involves pardoning Uribe, Cepeda remains enigmatically silent. His name has come up in some of the meetings that Petro and Uribe have held, although this matter has not been dealt with so frontally. Of course, it was in the presence of witnesses.
The organizer of these meetings between the former presidents who have left Colombians speechless is the lawyer Héctor Carvajal, unknown until now. Carvajal defended Petro when he was ousted and disqualified as mayor of Bogotá and later took charge of a case involving Uribe’s children. Both esteem this self-made jurist, who also acts as a co-judge —substitute judge— in the Council of State and in the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. The most widespread rumor among toga-clad professionals is that Carvajal could be the next attorney general, after Francisco Barbosa, whom the Casa de Nariño, the presidential residence, considers a de facto opponent. In the coming months, Petro must send a shortlist of candidates to the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court to succeed Barbosa, who will leave his post in February and leave Uribe a little more orphaned.
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Petro could promote someone loyal, a personal friend, who incidentally has Uribe’s affection and affection. The play, in theory, would also benefit the former president, although as is being verified, it is the judges who direct him to the bench. “He has the right to a fair trial. It is more than what thousands of people had during their governments,” he says. journalist Daniel Coronell, with whom Uribe has several crossed complaints. The road ends and there is not much left for him to know if he ends up in the accused, where he never imagined. A condemnation that would stain the shine of bronze.
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