Georgetown University says “¡Adios!” to Álvaro Uribe

¡Adios, Uribe!

In a move marking a return to its Jesuit values and commitment to social justice, Georgetown University has decided not to invite back Colombian ex-president Álvaro Uribe Velez for another year as a distinguished scholar. This decision came after two semesters of intense pressure from students, faculty, human rights organizations and Colombian activists.

“I congratulate Georgetown for this important decision,” said Georgetown law student Charity Ryerson. “I hope the University will adopt better standards, to avoid such an embarrassing appointment in the future.”

Uribe’s 8-year tenure in Colombia was rife with corruption, human rights violations and widespread impunity. He has been implicated in extrajudicial killings by the military, the forced displacement of millions, and the illegal wiretapping of his political opponents.

“I can’t believe my university would help shelter a war criminal from justice,” said Masters student Walker Grooms. “His disregard for human rights and the rule of law should have sent him to jail, not Georgetown.

“President Uribe’s time and association with Georgetown University has consistently been shrouded with mystery and cover-up, very much as his own administration was run. The real victory is for the victim’s voices that we ensured were present at every demonstration and on every flyer and informational leaflet”, asserted MSFS student Monica Gonzalez.

As a further blow to the university’s reputation, Uribe’s year at Georgetown has been marked by a series of major scandals. Just since his hire, the following pieces of information have come to light:

    * After being served a subpoena on Georgetown’s campus, Uribe attempted to evade service of process in the United States, to ensure he can’t be held accountable for his crimes in Colombia.

    * The Prosecutor General accused Uribe of faking the FARC guerilla demobilization and by paramilitary leaders of faking the demobilization of the paramilitary group AUC.

    * Álvaro Uribe’s cousin, Mario Uribe, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for ties to paramilitaries.

    * Illegal armed groups admitted they funded Uribe’s first campaign at cattle auctions, which Uribe attended, and provided him with security.

    * Criminal charges were brought against Uribe by opposition politicians in Colombia for his role in the crimes perpetrated by his secret service against trade unionists and human rights activists.

Though the university originally touted Uribe’s presence as a valuable resource for students and faculty, he remained inaccessible to the majority of the campus. While he started in the fall speaking in classes and giving public lectures, his talks became more restricted and cloaked in secrecy as the year went on.

For more information, visit uribe-georgetown.org

Georgetown University, 30Mar11

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