Uribe made a spirited defense of his administration’s human rights record, citing the decrease in Colombia’s murder and kidnapping rates, amongst other things, as proof of his commitment to protecting rights. “Colombia is not a paradise, but Colombia is doing better,” he told the Georgetown Voice.
Students at Georgetown have protested against Uribe’s appointment, criticizing the former leader’s stance on human rights. “We want to educate the university and the community on what Uribe has done. We want to remember the victims of ‘democratic security,'” – Uribe’s controversial hard-line security measures – said Mark Lance, a peace studies professor at the university.
The ex-president told the newspaper that many people who oppose his policies “hide behind the curtain of human rights because they do not feel capable of fighting my policy with the sincerity of their beliefs.”
The vast majority of students gave Uribe a “kind reception,” according to the former leader, who said he was not surprised by the demonstrations against him as he has “confronted numerous protests” during his career.
He denied asking students to make a “pact of honor” not to reveal the contents of his classes.
Uribe said that his human rights policies were “totally defensible,” claiming that he was “very strict” in sanctioning rights violations by the armed forces.
“Maybe my administration made mistakes, but I am … full of achievements to come in defense, to stand in defense of what we did in government,” said Uribe.
Addressing the scandal of “false positives,” murders by the army of civilians, who were then reported as guerrillas killed in combat, Uribe said that these outrages took place “mainly because of the penetration of narcotrafficking in some sectors of our institutions.”
He disputed the figure of 4.9 million Colombians displaced in the last 25 years, as estimated by Colombian NGO Codhes, saying that it was “inaccurate.”
“Colombia does not have a conflict or civil war. We have criminal attempts from terrorist groups against our democracy,” claimed Uribe.
When asked about President Juan Manuel Santos‘s relationship with Venezuela, Uribe replied; “My attitude has to be constructive regarding President Santos. The best way for being constructive is to be prudent. Therefore, I have to look with prudence [at] the steps Santos has moved on in [our] international relationships.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed that Uribe’s allegations before he left office in August that the FARC were hiding out in Venezuela were due to a rift with incoming President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos had signaled soon after his election that he was open to reconcilation with Chavez, Uribe’s old enemy, and when he took power was quick to meet with the socialist leader and rebuild ties.