Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe on Nov. 3 was subpoenaed to testify in a civil case against Alabama coal giant Drummond over the company’s alleged ties to paramilitary death squads. A group of 500 Colombian victims of the paramilitary violence demand compensation from Drummond and claim Uribe “has direct knowledge of a number of key cases, including until what point the armed forces supported the paramilitary protection of mining properties of Drummond,” Terry Collingsworth, the attorney of victims of the paramilitary organization AUC, told radio station La FM. The former president “knows the levels of cooperation between the armed forces and the AUC, specifically in regions like Cesar where Drummond was active,” the lawyer added.
An activist at Washington DC’s Georgetown University threw the subpoena at the feet of the former president, who is a guest lecturer at the university. According to activist Charity Ryerson, “the former president was [officially] notified when the document touched his body.” If Uribe ignores the subpoena he risks a jail term for contempt of court, Ryerson added. (Colombia Reports, Nov. 4)
As one of his last acts in office, President George W. Bush last January awarded Uribe with the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US. Uribe received the medal together with former UK prime minister Tony Blair and former Australian prime minister John Howard. Bush cited Uribe’s “commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law” in awarding the medal. “Today the United States honors all Colombians by honoring the man they have chosen to lead them,” Bush said in stressing Uribe’s accomplishments in the struggle against “brutal drug cartels and illegal armed groups.”
“By refusing to allow the land he loves to be destroyed by an enemy within, by proving that terror can be opposed and defeated, President Uribe has reawakened the hopes of his countrymen and shown a model of leadership to a watching world,” Bush said. (Colombia Reports, Jan. 13, 2009)