NGO accuses Uribe of treason

Colombian NGO La Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados Jose Alvear Restrepo claims that former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s signing of a military pact with the U.S. was an act of treason, an abuse of power, and a breach of public duty.

The NGO announced that they will present the accusations before a Congress commission, following the Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling on Tuesday that the pact Uribe signed in 2009 is unconstitutional until ratified by Congress.

According to the lawyers’ collective, the pact “compromises national sovereignty by ceding considerable portions of strategic territory, of airspace, maritime space, and the electromagnetic spectrum to the U.S., as well as granting them a set of unrestricted privileges not granted to the national population.”

The NGO alleges that Uribe, along with his Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez, Defense Minister Gabriel Silva, and Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio, compromised Colombia’s national sovereignty by “an arbitrary and unilateral act,” which constitutes abuse of authority and treason.

The NGO requested that the House of Representative’s Commission on Accusations and the prosecutor general investigate their allegations. It also called on current President Juan Manuel Santos to reconsider the base agreement “because of its damaging effects on Colombia’s diplomatic relations in the region, but above all because of its negative effect on national sovereignty and its impact on human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Following the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the pact must be ratified by Colombian House of Representatives.

Former commander of the Colombian armed forces General Freddy Padilla said Wednesday that U.S. Congress would need to ratify the pact if Colombia’s Congress did, and that the U.S. would not do so “due to their foreign policy circumstances.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Wednesday that Washington hopes Bogota “takes the necessary steps to preserve the bilateral military agreement,” and that in the meantime cooperation will continue under pre-existing agreements.

Santos said his government will study the agreement and “decide if it is worth continuing with the pact or not.”

According to Constitutional Court President Mauricio Gonzalez Cuervo, details such as “access points and the use of air bases, free movement within these installations, the freedom to carry arms” led the court to decide that the agreement was not simply an extension of previous treaties.

The controversial pact, which granted the U.S. access to at least seven Colombian military bases and civilian airports, was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Uribe in August 2009, but was never approved by the country’s Congress. According to Uribe, the pact was a continuation of existing policy and did not need congressional approval.

The agreement caused tensions in the region, as neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela consider U.S. military presence in Colombia a threat to their sovereignty.

The pact was also controversial within Colombia, with leftist opposition party Polo Democratico labelling the pact a violation of Colombian independence and sovereignty.

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