Colombia: “Uribe’s Fujimori Moment”

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Risk assessment based on number of ballot-boxes interfered with, for reasons of public disorder, by municipality, in recent Colombia elections. See Infographic of the Week: Colombia’s Elections Observer Mission. I wonder how accurate a risk-predictor these projections proved to be?

Lo Fujimori de Uribe: an op-ed in today’s EL TIEMPO by María Jimena Duzán.

Por primera vez en la historia reciente un Presidente se niega a reconocer el triunfo electoral de sus oponentes. Y al otro día, en un hecho sin precedentes, un número importante de candidatos perdedores salieron a hacer lo mismo: en 44 municipios se registraron asonadas electorales y se quemaron urnas de la Registraduría, como en los tiempos de la Violencia.

For the first time in recent history a Colombian head of state is refusing to recognize the electoral victory of his opponents. And just the other day, in an unprecedented development, a significant number of losing candidates publicly followed suit: In 44 townships, election-related mob violence was recorded, and ballot boxes in the custody of the election registrar were burned, as in the times of the Violence.

Asonada defined by the Colombian armed forces “glossary of warfare terminology”:

Reunión de numerosas personas con objeto de alterar el orden público y para conseguir violentamente un fin, por lo general de carácter político. Las figuras de rebelión y sedición comprenden la asonada, voz no empleada en la terminología jurídica. Las partidas definían la voz como ayuntamiento de unas gentes con otras para hacerse mal. También en la Edad Media asonada se decía por convocación para la guerra y como correría bélica.

A gathering of a large number of persons with the objective of disrupting the public order and achieving an end, generally of a political nature, by violent means. Rebellion and sedition are instances of what this word refers to, although it is not recognized as a legal term. … in the Middle Ages, the term was used to describe a call-up of soldiers for war and frenetic battlefield activity.

See also

Como si esto no fuera ya alarmante, hay otro hecho, inadvertido también, que sorprende: sucede que las protestas fueron provocadas en su gran mayoría por disputas entre miembros de la coalición uribista, con lo cual se demuestra lo cerca que el uribismo está de la hecatombe.

As if this were not alarming enough, there is another surprising fact that has also gone unnoticed: It happens that the vast majority of these protests were provoked by internal disputes in the Uribe coalition, which may demonstrate how close the movement behind Uribe really is to the famous hecatombe, or catastrophe.

On which see

Y mientras todo esto sucede, H.H., un tenebroso paramilitar, confiesa que solía montar a sus víctimas en un carro de la muerte por todo el Urabá antioqueño y que, por esa vía, asesinó a 1.500 colombianos. ¡Y sus declaraciones no estremecen a nadie! Y no estremecen a nadie porque buena parte del país sigue enfrascado en dilucidar qué fue lo que quiso decir el Presidente cuando habló de reelección o hecatombe. Como vamos, no vamos bien. ¿Hacia dónde vamos realmente?

And while all that is going on, H.H., a shadowy paramilitary member, confesses that he used to pile his victims up in a death car allover the Urabá region of Antioquia province, and that in this manner he assassinated 1,500 Colombians. And his statements shock no one! They shock no one because a good part of Colombia continues to speculate on what the President might have meant when he said he spoke of the choice between a second reelection or “catastrophe.” So far, so bad. Where are we headed with all this, really?

Difícil saberlo a ciencia cierta. Lo que sí es evidente es que el camino que estamos transitando es muy parecido al que recorrió el Perú bajo Fujimori en sus largos años de mandato. Fujimori alcanzó su primera reelección gracias a la popularidad derivada de sus triunfos contra Sendero Luminoso, conseguidos de la mano de una recuperación económica. Su emblema fue la foto de Abimael Guzmán enjaulado y vestido con camiseta de presidiario.

Difficult to say for sure. What is clear is that the road we are on is very much like the road Peru traveled down under Fujimori during his long years in power. Fujimori achieved his first reelection thanks to a population distracted by his triumphs over the Shining Path guerrillas, along with a simultanous economic recovery. Its emblematic moment was the photo of Abimael Guzmán in a cage, wearing prison stripes.

See The Dancer Upstairs for a dramatic treatment of the episode.

Sin embargo, su segunda reelección fue forzada y aparatosa, porque estuvo concebida como una fórmula para neutralizar desde el poder la tracalada de investigaciones que ya se le venían encima por cuenta de las andanzas de su mano derecha, el temible y corrupto Vladimiro Montesinos. Una cosa era recibir toda esta agua sucia fuera del poder, y otra, desde el solio presidencial. Sin embargo, como ocurre con todo lo que comienza mal y termina mal, Fujimori se cayó al empezar su tercer mandato.

His second reelection, however, was forced and artificial, because it was conceived as a formula for neutralizing, using his power as head of state, the progress of investigations that hung over him on account of the doings of his right-hand man, the fearsome and corrupt Vladimiro Montesinos. It was one thing to face this sea of mud after leaving power and another to face it will still in office. However, as always, when something starts badly and ends badly, Fujimori fell at the outset of his third term in office.

Evidentemente, Uribe no tiene a ningún Montesinos en la nómina, a Dios Gracias. Pero, en cambio, sí tiene a cerca de 40 congresistas uribistas investigados por sus vínculos con los ‘paras’, entre los que descuella nadie más ni nadie menos que su primo, el hasta hace poco senador Mario Uribe. Y fue precisamente a los pocos días de que la Corte Suprema anunciara el llamado a indagatoria del ex senador -en el preciso momento en que el Presidente acusaba a la Corte y al magistrado auxiliar Iván Velásquez, cerebro de la investigación sobre la ‘parapolítica’ de inventarse un proceso en su contra, que solo existió en las mentes de Palacio- que el partido de la U decidió proponer la reelección de Uribe, vía referendo. Cómo caería de mal la cosa, que a muchos de los uribistas que abrazaron con júbilo la idea de un tercer mandato de Uribe les pareció inoportuna.

Obviously, Uribe has no Montesinos hanging around his neck, thank God.

J.J. Rendón? I see a lot of similarities there, actually.

On the other hand, there are some 40 Uribe allies in Congress under investigation for “parapolitics,” including none other than his cousin, the until-recently Senator Mario Uribe. And it was just a few days ago after Supreme Court announced that it was issuing a summons to the ex-senator — at the precise moment when the President was accusing the court, and associate justice Velásquez, the mastermind of the “parapolitics” inquest, of having fabricated a case against him — a plot that only existed in the imaginations of certain parties inside the Palace — that the La U party decided to float the idea of a referendum on a third term for Uribe. But as that proposal apparently did not sit well, even though a lot of Uribe supporters joyfully embraced the idea, a third mandate for Uribe was deemed inopportune.

Desde entonces, el Presidente se ha dedicado a impulsar la idea y a promoverla y nos tiene a todos pendientes de él y sus designios. Bajo Uribe, la política en Colombia se ha vuelto relativamente previsible, porque se ha reducido a eso: a mirar al Presidente. A mirarlo cómo come, cómo agita sus manos en los consejos comunales, cómo se enfurece, cómo se le brotan sus sienes y cómo alza a los niños a su paso, como si fuera sor Teresa de Calcuta.

Since then, Uribe has dedicated himself to promoting and encouraging the proposal, and all of us are in suspense now about him and his intentions. Under Uribe, Colombian politics had returned to being relatively predictable, precisely because it had been reduced to just that: Watching the President. Watching how he ate, how he used his hands during community forums, how furious het got, … how children followed him around, as if he were Mother Teresa.

Mientras tanto, en la trastienda, la noticia de que el nombre del magistrado auxiliar Iván Velásquez fue sacado por el Consejo Superior de la Judicatura de la terna para ocupar una vacante en la Corte Suprema pasó inadvertida, como pasan tantas cosas en este país.

Meanwhile, backstage, the news that Velásquez’s name was withdrawn for consideration to fill a vacancy for a senior Supreme Court justice went unnoticed, like so many things in this country.

Dirán que se trata de otro triunfo de Uribe en su pelea con la Corte Suprema. Otros dirán que para eso es el poder. Y no les falta razón: … en esos casos, como diría Fujimori, es mejor ser presidente que ex presidente.

Some will call it another triumph for Uribe over the Supreme Court. They will say that this is what having power is all about. And they will be right … in such cases, as Fujimori would say, it’s better to be the president than the ex-president.

What do you think?

Uribe pulls a Bush-backed Musharraf?

Just take the Supreme Court out and shoot them?

L’etat, c’est moi?

That whole “bulwark against populism” bullshit that Alan Greenspan has been trying to peddle down here about the Mexican “soft state of exception” lately?

“Mother,” as James Earl Jones was always saying in those Tom Clancy movies, “of God.”

Do we think anyone is really buying this nonsense? In Brazil, not even Veja magazine (where I read Greenspan’s most recent remarks in “an exclusive interview!!”) — by all appearancs a paid local agent of the gabbling transnational Wolfowitz brigades — dares speak openly well of Bush-era Gringolândia.

Only there will likely be no Bush, or Bushites, in power by then, right?

They will all be sitting on the board of directors of Blackwater or the Heritage Foundation, or the Harvard board of trustees, no doubt. Can they get this sort of thing done from strategic positions in the Second Superpower, using only private-sector outsourcing contract labor?

It should be interesting to find out.

Interesting as in that proverbial (possibly apocryphal) ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

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