Senator Alvaro Uribe, one of Colombia’s most divisive politicians, on Friday retracted terrorism accusations made against one of his political enemies, journalist Hollman Morris.
In an unprecedented act of humility, the hard-liner Uribe retracted his long-held claim that the leftist Morris was a terrorism apologist.
Morris has received international acclaim for his reporting on the armed conflict in his home country, mainly through a television show called Contravia and the documentary film Impunity.
However, the journalist’s reporting on human rights violations and impunity for politicians and family members of Uribe linked to paramilitary groups, made him one of the then-President’s main political liabilities.
Morris was illegally spied on by intelligence agency DAS, arbitrarily detained on several occasions, and publicly accused by then-Minister Juan Manuel Santos of being a FARC collaborator and by Uribe of being a terrorism apologist.
After prosecutors found no evidence supporting the accusations, the journalist sued Uribe for slander.
According to Morris, Santos personally reconciled with the journalist ahead of his successful 2010 presidential bid.
In order to avoid a court sentence, Uribe went on camera in the court to rectify the accusations.
“Hollman Morris manifested today that he does not and never has made apologies for terrorism. I believe him and if I have said this I rectify,” said Uribe with Morris standing right beside him.
Uribe explained he made the false accusations “because the words and actions of Hollman Morris in regards to my government, my colleagues, my family and myself and his coincidence with detractors made me believe what I rectify today.”
Morris, now a member of the Bogota city council, used the opportunity to promote reconciliation in his war-torn country.
“Gestures like this are necessary for a new country, a country for all,” said Morris.
“I would like to quote [former South African rebel leader and President Nelson] Mandela who taught us that dialogue is the way, that reconciliation is the way.”
The journalist rhetorically asked “how much time we would have saved ourselves if only we had talked?”
Uribe is facing several slander lawsuits, including one filed by the mothers of young men who were executed by the military and later fraudulently filed as guerrillas killed in combat.