Former Colombian President and Liberal Party heavyweight Cesar Gaviria announced Wednesday that he will support Juan Manuel Santos’ bid for the 2010 presidency, a move which outgoing President Alvaro Uribe labelled as “opportunistic.”
Gaviria, former Liberal Party president and a fierce critic of Uribe, explained in an open letter why he had decided to support his former foreign trade minister Santos.
“I trust that he [Santos] will rectify some of President Uribe’s policies that so so necessary for our party,” Gaviria wrote.
“I trust that the government of national unity… will take up some of our [Liberal] flags of strict respect for human rights, respect for the power of the judiciary, decentralization, the use of state intelligence only to persecute criminals, a fairer tax structure, a better distribution of land, respect for the rights of victims,” Gaviria continued.
“God willing he will put an end to the culture of short cuts and that the end justifies the means. And we will return to a form of government that fortifies the state and institutions. God willing he will take up the Green wave sentiment of transparency, the fight against corruption,” Gaviria said, and called for Liberal Party leader and former presidential candidate Rafael Pardo to clarify the party’s position on the matter.
In a presidential press release Uribe rejected Gaviria’s announcement as “opportunistic” and “reminded” Colombians that the present government “dismantled criminal structures such as ‘Los Pepes'” and avoided creating new jails such as that of notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar’s “Cathedral,” which was created under Gaviria’s presidency with disasterous results.
Uribe slammed Gaviria’s announcement via his Twitter account, Tweeting that “Opportunism is the father of corruption” and “It is better to confront problems in depth than to evade real shortcomings; as was the custom of many politicans.”
Gaviria has been highly critical of Uribe throughout his eight year rule, in which the Liberal Party has been in opposition to the government.
As Semana comments, Gaviria’s support for Santos’s candidacy undermines Pardo’s role as party president. Pardo rejected an offer made by Santos to the Liberals to join his “government of national unity,” saying that no alliance would be made until the second round election runoff on June 20.
Santos will face-off against Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus in the election this Sunday. In Colombia’s first round presidential election Santos came first with 46.57% of the vote, followed by Mockus with 21.47%. Because no candidate gained the majority vote required to win the election outright, Santos and Mockus will face-off in a second round election on June 20.
The latest voter poll indicates that Santos will win the second round run-off with with 65%, while Mockus will win 28% of the votes.