While in Washington DC, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe decried the recent convictions of political allies, asking for their international protection against what he has called “political persecution”.
Uribe was in Washington on Wednesday to receive an award from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) for “advancing the hispanic community in the United States.”
During the acceptance speech, however, he also took the opportunity to comment on recent political events in Colombia.
Uribe denounced the convictions of his former chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, and former spy chief, Maria Del Pilar Hurtado, as politically motivated and an example of how he feels the courts have grown beholden to political factions.
“The penetration of political ideologies and prejudices in the administration of justice, together with this government’s orientation, is, in effect, leading this country to grant impunity to narco terrorists while democratic leaders like my colleagues are imprisoned,” argued Uribe.
In spite of his ongoing trouble with justice, Uribe found praise from some US politicians, including Representative Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fl), who said Uribe is “the man who saved Colombia and still fights to save her.”
Uribe met with Diaz-Balart earlier this year in an attempt to seek political support for his opposition to the administration of his successor, President Juan Manuel Santos.
The recent sentences of Hurtado and Moreno were not the first.
Two weeks before, two former ministers were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences for bribing congressmen to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow the 2006 reelection of Uribe. A second former chief of staff was convicted for the same crime.
Uribe’s former Agriculture minister fled the country before being convicted for embezzling tens of millions of dollars. The former Peace commissioner did the same just before being charged for faking the demobilization of a fictitious FARC front days before the 2006 elections.
A second former spy chief is in prison for a homicide carried out by right-wing paramilitary forces that colluded with the DAS, the paramilitary forces ultimately disbanding because of the ongoing scandals.
Dozens of former congressman, including Uribe’s own cousin, have been convicted for ties to paramilitary groups.
As if the handed down sentences were not enough, the Prosecutor General’s Office is still investigating a number of Uribe aides for their role in the crimes committed by the former administration. Uribe’s hand-picked presidential candidate in last year’s elections is also facing investigations after prosecutors found a campaign worker spying on ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC.
Uribe — president between 2002 and 2010 and in the senate since last year — has consistently claimed that he and his former cabinet members and political allies are the victim of a political persecution led by Santos, and Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre.