On the evening of Thursday, June 26, Uribe called a rushed press conference in reaction to the decision by Colombia's Supreme Court on the case of Yidis Medina: a guilty verdict. The court found that Medina did in fact cast her vote in exchange for political favours. She will spend 3 ½ years under house arrest for accepting bribes from the president. The Court's statement on the case called into question the very legitimacy of the process that led to Uribe's re-election. The president responded, on national television, that the justices who questioned the re-election process are doing the bidding of terrorists and called on the Colombian Congress to schedule a national referendum to repeat the 2006 elections, which is overstepping his constitutional powers but also a sign that he's in serious trouble.
On July 3rd, social movements and trade unions in Colombia will hold a rally in Bogota against the illegitimate regime and in defense of the Colombian courts.
The proven illegitimacy of the Uribe presidency must also render illegitimate the policies imposed under his rule, including the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, the negotiations for which were completed earlier this month. Harper's ally, it appears, is in even deeper trouble than the federal Liberals during the so-called 'sponsorship scandal' that the Conservatives played off to no end. Will Harper crusade against corruption this time? Or is it business as usual?
What follows is an English translation by La Chiva of the statement of ex-presidential candidate for the Polo Democratico Alternativo, Carlos Gaviria Diaz, probably the most legitimate voice in defense of the courts: he is a former Constitutional Court Magistrate, constitutional law professor and member of the Constituent Assembly.
"Now is the time for all democratic sectors (social and political) in the country to come to the defense 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."
Bogotá, June 27, 2008
President Uribe's address on the evening of June 26th disguises an extremely serious situation.
With the rule of law and a constitutional democracy, both of which were entrenched the Constitution of 1991, the duty of the head of state is to comply with the distinct organisms of the state – and in this specific case, the ruling of the justices – or to contest them through the proper mechanisms established for such situations. It is not, however, the head of state's duty to ignore them when they are not oriented in alignment with his or her political interests, much less mis-conceptualize them or brand Supreme Court Justices as liars and conspirers of terrorism. This circumstance alone merits a House of Representatives Commission investigation into the President of the Republic. What would have finally seemed like the adequate path through which president Uribe could perpetuate his power he could not let escape and took advantage of it to satisfy his libido imperandi [insatiable desire for power], bring the reverse, an episode that ought to very well force him to consider his resignation.
In the past, dictators have reverted to armed force to keep themselves in power and impose their unlimited will for the benefit of the most wretched interests. Uribe – in order to keep the country in its condition of subjugation to the most powerful empire the world has known and the people in misery – calls on those same people to push forward his perverse objectives.
Like those of the past who believed that armed force could achieve anything, those of today use the people as instruments to construct puppet dictatorships. Now is the time for all democratic sectors (social and political) in the country to come to the defense 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.
Translated by Michèal Ó Tuathail for the La Chiva Collective, Canada.