Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Attacks Venezuela

Seeking notoriety as an international spokesman for Venezuela’s anti-Chavez sector, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe issued baseless and malicious claims in international media aimed at isolating the Venezuelan government.


Openly campaigning for the opposition’s presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Uribe’s most recent tirades include Twitter messages calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both an “assassin” and “dictator” as well as publicly accusing the Chavez government of being “an accessory to terrorism” during an interview on CNN.

Uribe’s Claims

Last weekend in Miami during the Sixteenth Biennial Conference of the Cuban American National Council (CNC), former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe described the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a “new-style dictatorship”.

According to Uribe’s novel thesis, Venezuela’s participatory democracy and its record-breaking electoral history is “dictatorial” because the Venezuelan executive uses public resources to advance social programs that benefit the country’s majority.

Uribe, who used unfounded opposition claims in an attempt to strengthen his argument, said that “when you begin to have a government that expropriates private companies, wastes (public) resources, doesn’t respect freedom of the press, goes about, little by little, manipulating the justice system and placing justice in the hands of criminality, that’s where you have the consolidation, not of a democratic government, but of a dictatorship under the cover of elections”.

Uribe, who tried and failed to have the Colombian courts permit him a third term in of fice, made similar accusations just two months ago. Speaking in March at a US-backed International Freedom Foundation (IFF) conference titled “Latin America: Opportunities and Challenges”, Uribe included Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and Bolivian President Evo Morales in the pool of popular leaders imposing “new-style dictatorships” through social programs and democratic elections, according to him.

Uribe also renewed his previous unfounded accusations that Colombia’s leftist guerrilla organizations “are protected in Venezuela by the Venezuelan dictatorship”, adding that “Venezuela under the Chavez dictatorship has become a paradise for drug-trafficking”.

Uribe’s repeated use of baseless claims of Venezuelan “support for terrorism” almost brought the two countries to war during his eight years in office. Relations have greatly improved, however, since the election of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Uribe is currently under investigation for his role in widespread paramilitary violence unleashed on Colombia’s rural poor during his eight-year term (2002-2010).

Twitter Attack

Aware of Chavez’s successful use of Internet technologies to communicate with others, Uribe used his own twitter account to lash out at Venezuela’s socialist President. On May 13, Uribe unleashed a tirade against Chavez, blaming the Venezuelan President for the entirety of violent crime in the country.

“Chavez (assassin), you want to cover up the yearly assassination of 19,000 Venezuelans, killed with impunity. Chavez (assassin), you want to cover up the kidnapping of over a thousand people per year”. Providing no evidence to back his claims, Uribe then described Chavez as a “dictator, who knows he can lose (the 2012 election) and who appeals to a discourse against the bourgeoisie while ignoring the corrupt bourgeoisie of his own regime”.

Uribe, who openly supports Venezuela’s opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, titled one of his Twitter messages “CaprilesPresidente” and wrote that “hopefully Venezuela guarantees freedom for all citizens and not just the liberty of the Dictator and his friends”.

Speaking at an opposition rally in Caracas, Capriles Radonski tried to distance himself from Uribe’s statements. “With a great deal of respect for opinions that come from abroad…I say to ex-President Uribe as well as President Santos, just like I would say to any other Head of State or ex-president, don’t involve yourself in Venezuela’s electoral process because we Venezuelans will resolve our own problems”, he said.

Asked if he would continue commenting on the Venezuelan election, Uribe wrote via Twitter, “so long as there is a dictatorship protecting terrorists, we will continue to give our opinion about Venezuela”.

Venezuelans Respond

One of the first to respond to Uribe’e dangerous claims was Ivan Zerpa, Secretary of the Venezuelan National Assembly. Using his Twitter account to do so, Zerpa wrote to Colombia’s ex-president stating, “Uribe, it is you, you and your narco-paramilitary government, that are the assassins”. He reminded Uribe that “many of your (Uribe’s) principal advisors are now detained, accused of drug trafficking and paramilitary involvement” and asked, “How many deaths are you responsible for?”

Zerpa also insisted that Uribe, “respect President Chavez” and affirmed that Venezuela’s socialist lawmakers as well as the country’s growing pro-Chavez majority will continue “to defend him” at all costs.

Venezuela’s Minister of Information Andres Izarra also responded, adding, “the declarations made by Mancuso have Uribe going crazy”. Salvatore Mancuso, one of Colombia’s top paramilitary leaders who now sits in a US prison, recently told investigators that his organization had direct ties to the government of Alvaro Uribe.

Good Timing?

In an article titled, “Uribe: Advisor to the Titanic”, Rebelion.org writer Juan Manuel Karg noted that Uribe’s vocal support for the Capriles Radonski campaign “comes at a time when the Governor of Miranda begins to lose out in public opinion, after a campaign launch that expected to be much closer (to Chavez) in the polls, and just months before the election”.

With opinion polls that place President Chavez “between 20 and 30 points ahead of Capriles Radonski”, Karg said, “one can understand the necessity the MUD has, or that Capriles himself has,” to get additional support from “international advisors”.

Karg also noted that public comments by Capriles Radonski distancing himself from Uribe are purely for show, and that as this year’s electoral contest approaches, “there they will be, on the one side, beyond their cosmetic differences, Capriles Radonski, Uribe, and the international lobbyists that are still trying to prevent the sinking of the Titanic better known as the MUD; and on the other side, Chavez and the courageous Venezuelan people”.