Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is trying to mobilize his supporters in an aggressive defense against accusations he was complicit in a 1997 massacre.
Amid fierce objections to ongoing peace talks with leftist FARC rebels, the hard-line former president was recently warned that he could end up in court over war crimes.
In the face of mounting evidence against him, including testimonies of ex-paramilitaries and allegations from the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, Uribe has taken an aggressive stance against the allegations, characterizing them as a left-wing conspiracy to sodden his name ahead of regional elections in Colombia.
What happens to Uribe affects us all
As a gesture of solidarity, the Democratic Center (CD), Uribe’s political party, recently produced a new campaign slogan aimed to rally support for the Senator against the impending investigation.
The slogan, “What happens to Uribe affects us all,” insinuates a certain collective responsibility to combat the allegations against the party leader.
CD candidates across the country are heralding the slogan, and the party itself published a press release claiming the investigation is an act of political vengeance against Uribe.
“The central concept [of the claims against Uribe] is to try to silence former President Uribe through political vengeance disguised as criminal proceedings with all the appearance of legality. The Attorney General has prefabricated testimonies in complicity with alias ‘Don Berna‘ to make a political lynching of the Democratic Center and its founder,” the article stated.
Uribe is the third of his family to be embroiled in accusations over paramilitary activity; his brother Santiago is currently on trial for his alleged founding of a right-wing death squad in the 1980s while his cousin Mario was convicted for using paramilitary aid to get elected into Congress.
Uribe’s own 2002 presidential election campaign, like the campaigns of dozens of congressmen in that election year, received money and support from paramilitary umbrella organization AUC, the same group convicted for the 1997 massacre, according to the court.
Nonetheless the party stands strong in “solidarity” against the allegations. Earlier this week, the Democratic Party wore freshly printed white t-shirts stamped by the mantra at a political rally in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca.
“We, the Democratic Center supporters, are saying to all of Colombia that we support unconditionally our supreme leader Alvaro Uribe. We reject today’s form of silencing the voice of the people, the voice that embodies Alvaro Uribe. We stand as the Democratic Center of Buenaventura in telling the rest of the country that what happens to Uribe affects us all,” one female activist stated.
In the wake of the arriving elections, the slogan continues to gather momentum across the country as Uribe’s party struggles to overthrow the negative claims made against their leader.