Colombia’s opposition is not allowed to explicitly mention Colombia’s former president and current senator Alvaro Uribe in a pending debate on the politicians’ alleged ties to paramilitary groups.
In a massive turn of events, Senator Ivan Cepeda won’t be able to direct any questions or the discussion of the debate towards Senator Uribe himself, effectively altering the content of the polemic debate that was accepted on August 5.
Polo Alternative Party Senator Cepeda fought hard to win the right to specifically debate Uribe’s links to paramilitaries during his time as President and Governor of the state of Antioquia. Now, on the set date of the debate on September 18, Cepeda must have a different question list that does not mention Uribe.
Cepeda stated, “my debate was requested, not to discuss in general terms the phenomenon of paramilitarism or narcotrafficking, but requested to debate the connections former president Alvaro Uribe had with paramilitarism and narcotrafficking,” according to Semana.
Cepeda describes the decision as “absurd, unbelievable, and a political convenience.”
The announcement came from a majority six against four decision of the Senate Ethics Commission following a long four hour debate.
The change in the debate is a result of a suit filed by Fernando Alvarado, director of Center of Thinking. Alvarado called for the recusal of Cepeda due to a conflict of interest because Uribe had previously submitted allegations to Colombia’s Supreme Court against Cepeda. Uribe’s allies assert that the debate is a means for Cepeda to stray attention from his own problems and legal entanglements.
The Center of Thinking foundation was founded by Jose Obdulio Gaviria, a staunch Uribe ally, to promote ‘Uribismo,’ according to a foundation press release.
The ethics commission did not force the recusal of Cepeda from the debate, but did neuter the essence of the debate which was meant to highlight the lack of progress in legal proceedings against the former president for his alleged ties to paramilitaries and drug cartels.
Uribe was visibly unsettled when the Senate’s Second Commission accepted the debate after it was shot down on the Senate floor. Evidently, Uribe still holds various allies from his presidential term in the Senate’s ethics commission, according to the Center of Thinking.
- Uribe no podrá ser mencionado por Cepeda en su debate (Semana)
- En riesgo el debate de Cepeda a Uribe (Fundacion Centro de Pensamiento)