Unity in Defense of the Supreme Court of Justice and Against Impunity and the Populist Dictatorship


Bogotá, June 30, 2008 — As what had been prepared for days before, President Álvaro Uribe responded with the usual smokescreen to the carefully substantiated decision of the Penal Court of the Supreme Court of Justice, which condemned Yidis Medina for accepting a bribe. The court found that the Congress member had committed the crime of selling her vote to pass the law that would eventually pave the way for presidential re-elections in Colombia, from which the current head of state directly benefited. Álvaro Uribe’s shameless aggression against the Supreme Court of Justice, unprecedented in the history of this country, has the obvious intention of deceiving Colombians and pressuring attorneys and judges into absolving high-level government functionaries accused of buying the vote of Yidis Medina; functionaries who, like Ambassador Sabas Pretel and Minister Diego Palacios, are already under investigation by the Attorney General for a list of charges. Álvaro Uribe is hence repeating the tactic of attempting to discredit and intimidate the Supreme Court of Justice, a tactic that he has used since the day the court began to establish with civil validity the judicial truth about para-política [a scandal linking Colombian politicians to collusion with paramilitary death squads], a case in which 85 per cent of the more than 60 parliamentarians implicated in the scandal are Uribe-supporters.

 

After noting “the crime cannot generate any type of constitutional or legal legitimacy,” the Penal Court of the Supreme Court of Justice wisely transferred its verdict on the Yidis Medina case to the Constitutional Court, “for ends deemed advisable,” given that the law that was passed authorized the current president’s possibility for re-election. Paradoxically, it is worth noting that Álvaro Uribe, in the bald-faced break with institutional order that he has promised to maintain, confirmed that which has already been established in the Constitution and in law: the illegitimacy of his re-election, based on a law that was approved through a criminal act, one of which the only remaining question is the nature of the charges faced by the members of his government who were also involved in the bribe.

 

Moreover, there is the extremely grave decision of Álvaro Uribe to take another step towards tyranny by breaking down the separation of powers defined by the Constitution as a minimum democratic guarantee, a path he has pursued since he decided to run for re-election and dismantle the system of constitutional control among the branches of public power. Putting aside the polls that Uribe supporters use to justify the worst abuses, the imposition of the dictatorship consists of placing the totality of the state under the command of just one person. One must now recall how Hitler and Mussolini justified the horrors they perpetrated by citing massive support from Germans and Italians.

 

In his authoritarian logic, Álvaro Uribe has also decided to oppose Yidis Medina’s conviction by holding a referendum calling for a “repeat” and legitimization of the 2006 presidential elections. No quantity of votes can change a legal ruling or convert something corrupt into something honest. It is outrageously irresponsible to provoke a serious institutional crisis and write off enormous problems in order to carry out a referendum and another election so that Uribe can govern, as is currently established, until 2010. Given the aforementioned, we are presented with two possibilities: either Uribe and his supporters are hiding their other objectives, such as once again changing the constitution to impose a new re-election, by means of exchanging something especially gruesome and damaging for something disproportionately worse; or there has been an error in calculation that Álvaro Uribe could finally be forced to rectify. Facing his downfall, he will have to reconcile citizens’ resistance and the demands of the powers upon which his luck has depended, those who have already expressed their rejection of his latest foolish act.

 

It is without a doubt that, no matter how things turn out, the latest craftiness of Álvaro Uribe and the clique that surrounds him, through the instability and image of the country they have generated and projected, is causing great damage to the country, especially given that the winds of a national and international economic crisis are mounting. Faced with another delusional tirade from the self-styled Messiah, the following question arises: What limits will you not break as you are further discredited? 

 

As it was duly proposed by Carlos Gaviria, President of the Polo Democrático Alternativo [Colombia’s primary opposition party], “Now is the time for all democratic sectors (social and political) in the country to come to the defence of what little of our democracy we have left. We must rally behind our courts and scream will all the force of our voice that Uribe must not continue to govern the country to preserve his impunity and impose a populist dictatorship.”

 


Jorge Enrique Robledo is a Colombian Senator from the opposition Polo Democrático Alternativo (Alternative Democratic Pole) party.

 

[Translated from Spanish by Dawn Paley and Michèal Ó Tuathail]

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