Alvaro Uribe on Thursday made his final television appearance as president of Colombia, thanking the Colombian people for their support and requesting the same support for his successor Juan Manuel Santos, who will take office Saturday.
“Providence and you, my countrymen, gave me the great opportunity to be in the presidency for eight years. I tried my best to meet this great responsibility in the best way. I was accompanied by a great vice president and an extraordinary team of collaborators,” the outgoing president said.
Uribe stressed the importance of the pillars of his “Democratic Security” policy; security, investor’s confidence, and social cohesion.
The head of state explicitly thanked Colombia’s soldiers and policemen. “We need to embrace them, love them, support them, cooperate with them so that they always take the responsibility of making the nation safer, with efficient and totally transparent armed forces and a disarmed citizenry. To support the armed forces, the weapons we need as citizens are affection, trust and a cellphone.”
Uribe asked forgiveness for errors committed under his leadership and said he assumes the responsibility for these errors. “The good seeds were sown by the armed forces and my collaborators, the mistakes are mine,” Uribe said. “I ask forgiveness to the entire nation for whichever errors committed and also for that we weren’t able to accomplish.”
The outgoing president asked the Colombian people to support the incoming Santos administration and said he hoped that the coming years will be “a time of great prosperity for the Motherland with immense equity.”
“May, with the work and comprehension of all, after the storm of violence of two centuries, come the happiness for the children and those that will come, so that the new generations live happily on the fertile soil of Colombia,” Uribe concluded.
The president will conclude the last of his two four-year terms on Saturday when Juan Manuel Santos, who was elected on June 20, takes office.
Uribe – Colombia’s first leader to serve two consecutive terms – ends a controversial presidency. The hard-liner, backed financially and militarily by the United States, pushed leftist rebels away from economically important areas and demobilized paramilitary organization AUC. Due to the improved security situation in the country, Colombia enjoyed an increase in foreign investment.
However, Uribe also faced severe criticism over human rights abuses committed against the civilian population by the armed forces, links between paramilitary warlords for Uribe-aides in Congress and the administration, corruption and his clashes with the country’s judicial branch, human rights workers, opposition politicians, and critical journalists.