Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has always been able to keep a very decent image abroad. The way he lashed out at BBC reporter Julián Miglierini however showed the world how opponents of the President have seen him for a while: an undemocratic bully.
After the interview that Colombia’s president Álvaro Uribe gave to the BBC it is hard to deny: Alvaro Uribe is not a democrat.
For quite a long time I have been thinking that perhaps I was wrong, that perhaps my liberal tendencies were my bias towards a president with whom I often disagree.
I have always been thinking that as a journalist I have to keep a distance in the Colombian political spectrum, which is so heated, and I think I still have to. But this is no matter of sympathies or left and right. This is a matter of democratic principles.
Uribe tried silencing BBC’s reporter Julián Miglierini in the boldest way. He called him “friend” and disqualifying his question about Uribe’s aspirations for a third term by reminding the interviewer of the history of his own country Argentina and telling the reporter to leave the Colombian democracy alone. There is very little left for Uribe than to be deeply ashamed of himself and his behavior.
I admit that journalists behave very bold at times as well, but that cannot be said of mr. Miglierini. He simply asked what millions of people want to know: does Uribe want to run for the presidency for the third time?
This apparently was too much for the president.
The ordeal confirms what the Colombian president has always shown and which he seems to empathize more and more. Uribe does not want to be questioned, let alone be contradicted. Doing either one is a mortal sin.
The president is convinced that everybody who doesn’t agree with him is wrong. And thus he has visited European countries and the Washington Post – just to give some examples – to teach them how things really are. No matter what the subject is, Free Trade Treaty, the FARC, drugs policy. He doesn’t seem to realize that these ‘pedagogical rounds’ are completely arrogant and ridiculous.
Perhaps the president thought he won the battle in his interview with the BBC reporter, but that would be a simple demonstration of his complete lack of self reflection. Uribe’s image to those who still thought he was a decent man was shattered.
If he wants to be a democrat, it really is time he should refrain from authoritarian behavior like he has been displaying, he should reconsider calling his opponents and NGO’s supporters of the FARC. It is time he stops accusing Piedad Córdoba and her Colombians for Peace of wanting to make a show of the liberation of hostages. The one who wants to make the biggest (one-man) show is Álvaro Uribe.
When Álvaro Uribe explained his policy of democratic security seven years ago I was surprised about this formulation, let’s say about the fact that he added ‘democratic’ to security. Why should you say that so explicitly if you are already and obviously have been chosen democratically in a democratic country?
More and more I am sure that this ‘democratic’ has no meaning. Worse, it is a lie. This policy should be named ‘security’. That will do.
This column was published in Colombia Reports.