Criticizing the criticism
Santos defends his approach toward FARC, saying the group opted for peace talks to end a conflict that has cost 220,000 lives precisely because of the successful military strikes he had ordered.
“It would have been easy to move forward on the path that we were on, and to leave the conflict unresolved,” Santos said in a speech at the United Nations last month. “Waging war, and I know how to wage war, is much easier than seeking peace.”
But in tweet after tweet, Uribe has highlighted what he contends are breakdowns in security. He has acknowledged relying on details provided to him by loyal army officers.
One moment, he writes about a kidnapped cattleman, or a FARC attack on a town. A few months ago, he published photographs of two dead policemen killed by FARC, sparking an outcry among pundits who said he had gone too far.
For Uribe’s critics, it’s just too much.
“He is a profound narcissist, seeing himself as Colombia’s savior,” said Ivan Cepeda, a leftist congressman who has publicly tangled with Uribe.
Hector Abad, a novelist and columnist, said Uribe seems to relish disseminating any bad news that will embarrass Santos.
“I don’t think it’s so good that an ex-president, one with so much power and the capacity to influence Colombians, dedicate most of his time to being the one to reveal all the security problems and bad news,” Abad said.
Uribe’s spokesman did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment. But his supporters say he is simply trying to get Colombia back on the right track.
“We have decided to create a party so that these ideas can persevere,” said Uribe’s former vice president, Francisco Santos, who also happens to be the current president’s cousin.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, finance minister in the Uribe years, said Uribe’s drive to run for Senate “restores the trust, the hopes of millions of Colombians who want to restore security.”
Not everything is going his way. Prosecutors and investigating magistrates have been probing Uribe, his brother and associates of the former president for colluding with vigilante-like paramilitary groups.
Uribe’s new party has also been riven by rivalries, analysts note, and some of his political allies have been handily defeated in elections.
“I don’t think Uribe is a serious threat,” said Aldo Civico, a conflict resolution expert at Rutgers University who specializes in the Colombian conflict and has closely followed Uribe’s career. “And his noise is overblown by the Colombian media.”