“What Colombia gained could be lost,” said Uribe, in reference to the economic and geopolitical gains made during his eight years as the Colombian head of state (2002-2010).
Uribe linked a supposed upsurge in guerrilla attacks as something that threatens investor confidence in Colombia. The rise in violence “could be a clear signal against investment confidence,” Uribe told press in Mexico City Wednesday.
Although the constitution currently prohibits Uribe from running for a third presidential term, the former leader has the right to stand for a seat in congress. “If, to defend [my] ideas, I have to go to Congress, I can’t close that door,” declared Uribe.
Uribe’s two terms as president were marked by a militaristic approach to Colombia’s problems. From 2002 he oversaw the augmentation and professionalization of Colombia’s armed forces in an effort to reduce guerrilla influence across the country.
Success in this regard partly contributed to an increase in foreign investment and strong overall growth in the Colombian economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Colombia grew by more than 500% from 2001 to 2011.
However, recent statistics and analyses suggest Uribe’s concerns that the Colombian economy is under siege are overstated. In July, the Wall Street Journal went so far as to dub Latin America’s fourth largest economy as a “new economic tiger.” The Colombian economy experienced growth of 4.7% in the first half of 2012. Moreover, FDI increased steadily over the past 18 months. Between January and September FDI rose by 15.8%, compared to the same period last year.
Claims that FARC attacks are on the rise are also misleading. While it is true FARC launched a wave of bombing attacks against oil pipelines in the first six months of the year, assaults have dropped off in recent months. Attacks reportedly carried out by Colombia’s largest rebel group decreased by 70% in September compared to the month before (see chart below).
Since Uribe left office two years ago he has become a vocal opponent of President Santos. He has been particularly critical of Santos’ decision to negotiate with FARC guerrillas. In a recent interview, Uribe called the peace process a, “slap in the face against democracy.”
Uribe would be the first modern ex-Colombian president to run for a seat in congress post-presidency.