Colombia: peace talks resume; Uribe urges ‘rebellion’

Colombia's ex-president Alvaro Uribe on Dec. 4 called for a "rebellion" against the government of his successor Juan Manuel Santos over the recent capture and release of a general by the FARC guerillas. Now a senator for his own Democratic Center party, Uribe has established himself as the principal critic of the current administration and the ongoing peace process with Colombia's oldest guerilla group. In a Nov. 30 tweet, he wrote: "Many or few, we have the obligation to rebel against the game of Santos, which has equated democracy and its soliders with terrorism." On Dec. 3, the word surfaced again in an Uribe tweet: "We rebel against Santos' mistreatment of Colombia, which seeks to define drug-trafficking as a political crime with altrusitc ends." This is a referrence to Santos' suggestion that FARC drug-trafficking could be considered a political crime, a move aimed at faciilitating the troubled peace talks by potentially sparing guerilla leaders prosecution.

Uribe's use of the term "rebel" has of course met with controversy. The president of the Senate, José David Name said: "To me it seems inappropriate to use such words. They are an act of instigation of civil disobedience and that is not good, especially coming from the ex-president Uribe. It's a very unfortunate term." Ivan Cepeda, senator with the left-wing Polo Alternativo, had stronger criticism: "I consider it an act of instigation of a coup. The word couldn't have any other meaning here. Uribe has to come clean about what games he is playing. He has to say if what he is looking for is to subvert the government and promote an attack on political power and its institutions. It's very dangerous."

Uribe's allies have come to bhis defense. Sen. José Obdulio Gaviria, an Urieb advisor, saidthere is no reason to worry about the comments. He told El Tiempo newspaper that to "rebel" in this context means to confront and oppose, and that it "is something we are doing with reference to the politics" of the current administration. Another leader of the uribista party, Ernesto Macías, also rejected the criticisms. For him, "Uribe rebels against the government every single day." (Colombia Reports, El Tiempo, Dec. 4)

The offending tweets appear to have been removed from Uribe's Twitter feed, but a Dec. 5 tweet reads: "A country that does not rebel against drug-trafficking and its offspring narco-terrorism ends up being devoured by it."