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USA: protests over Uribe appointment


Protest over Uribe appointment

The Colombian Jesuit, Javier Giraldo Moreno, has written an open letter of protest to fellow Jesuit, the renowned US peace activist John Dear, in protest over the appointment of former president Alvaro Uribe as professor at the Jesuit University of Georgetown, Washington DC. The former president is speaking to the Oxford University Latin American Society and the Oxford Union on Monday, September 20th, 2010, and it might be interesting for those attending to raise some of the issues covered by Javier Giraldo in his letter. The text of the letter, in English and Spanish, is found below.

Letter in English


My Dear John:

I send you brotherly and loving greetings.

I write to you with great concern regarding the fact that Georgetown, our Jesuit University, has hired the outgoing president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez as a professor. I am constantly receiving messages from individuals and groups who have suffered enormously during his term as president. They are protesting and questioning the mindset of our Company, or its lack of ethical judgment in making a decision of this kind.

It is possible that decision makers at Georgetown have received positive appraisals from Colombians in high political or economic positions, but it is difficult to ignore, at least, the intense moral disagreements aroused by his government and the investigations and sanctions imposed by international organizations that try to protect human dignity. The mere fact that, during his political career, while he was governor of Antioquia Province (1995-1997) he founded and protected so many paramilitary groups, known euphemistically as “Convivir” (“Live Together”), who murdered and “disappeared” thousands of people and displaced multitudes, committing many other atrocities, that alone would imply a need for moral censure before entrusting him with any responsibility in the future.

But not only did he continue to sponsor those paramilitary groups, but he defended them and he perfected them into a new pattern of legalized paramilitarism, including networks of informants, networks of collaborators, and the new class of private security companies that involve some millions of civilians in military activities related to the internal armed conflict, while at the same time he was lying to the international community with a phony demobilization of the paramilitaries.

In addition, the scandalous practice of “false positives” took place during his administration. The practice consists in murdering civilians, usually farmers, and after killing them, dressing them as combatants in order to justify their deaths. That is the way he tried to demonstrate faked military victories over the rebels and also to eliminate the activists in social movements that work for justice.

The corruption during his administration was more than scandalous, not just be-cause of the presence of drug traffickers in public positions but also because the Congress and many government offices were occupied by criminals. Today more than a hundred members of Congress are involved in criminal proceedings, all of them President Uribe’s closest supporters.

The purchase of consciences in order to manipulate the judicial apparatus was disgraceful. It ended up destroying, at the deepest level, the moral conscience of the country. Another disgrace was the corrupt manner in which the Ministers closest to him manipulated agricultural policy in order to favor the very rich with public money, meanwhile impeding and stigmatizing social projects. The corruption of his sons, who enriched themselves by using the advantages of power, scandalized the whole country at one time.

In addition, he used the security agency that was directly under his control (the Department of Administrative Security) to spy on the courts, on opposition politicians, and on social and human rights movements, by means of clandestine telephone tapping. The corrupt machinations he used to obtain his re-election as President in 2006 were sordid in the extreme, with the result that ministers and close collaborators been close to jail.

He manipulated the coordination between the Army and the paramilitary groups that resulted in 14,000 extrajudicial executions during his term of office. His strate-gies of impunity for those who, through the government or the “para-government”, committed crimes against humanity will go down in history for their brazenness.

The decision by the Jesuits at Georgetown to offer a professorship to Álvaro Uribe, is not only deeply offensive to those Colombians who still maintain moral principles, but also places at high risk the ethical development of the young people who attend our university in Washington. Where are the ethics of the Company of Jesus?

I am writing you these lines because I am sure that you will share our concerns and perhaps you can forward them to the Jesuits at Georgetown and to other circles of thoughtful persons you know and to those who are in sympathy with justice.

With a fond embrace,
Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J.


Letter in Spanish


lunes, 6 de septiembre de 2010 

Estimado y recordado John:
Recibe un fraterno y cariñoso saludo.

Te escribo muy preocupado por el hecho de que en nuestra universidad jesuita de Georgetown hayan vinculado como docente al Presidente saliente de Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. No ceso de recibir mensajes de personas y grupos que sufrie-ron enormemente durante su gobierno, que reclaman y cuestionan la actitud de nuestra Compañía o su falta de discernimiento ético al tomar este tipo de decisio-nes.

Es posible que las directivas de Georgetown hayan recibido conceptos positivos de colombianos de altas posiciones económicas o políticas, pero es difícil que ignoren al menos las profundas controversias éticas que levantó su gobierno y los cuestionamientos y sanciones que recibió de muchos organismos internacionales que tratan de proteger la dignidad humana. El sólo hecho de que durante su carrera política, desde que era Gobernador del Departamento de Antioquia (1995-1997) hubiera fundado y protegido tantos grupos paramilitares, llamados eufemísticamente “Convivir”, que asesinaron y desaparecieron a millares de personas y desplazaron multitudes cometiendo otras muchas atrocidades, ya implica una exigencia de censura ética para encomendarle cualquier responsabilidad en el futuro. Pero no sólo continuó patrocinando esos grupos paramilitares sino que los mantuvo y los complementó con un nuevo modelo de paramilitarismo legalizado, como son las redes de informantes, las redes de cooperantes y el nuevo tipo de empresas de seguridad privada que involucran a varios millones de civiles en actividades militares relacionadas con el conflicto armado interno, mientras le mentía a la comunidad internacional con una falsa desactivación de los paramilitares.

Además, fue escandalosa durante su gobierno la práctica de los “falsos positivos” consistente en asesinar civiles, principalmente campesinos, y después de muertos vestirlos de combatientes para justificar su muerte. Con ello pretendía mostrar victorias militares falsas sobre los rebeldes y eliminar a los activistas de los movimientos sociales que buscan justicia.

La corrupción durante su gobierno fue más que escandalosa, no sólo por la presencia de narcotraficantes en los puestos públicos sino porque el Congreso y muchos cargos de gobierno fueron ocupados por delincuentes. Hoy hay más de cien congresistas en procesos criminales, todos ellos del entorno electoral más cercano del Presidente Uribe.

Fue escandalosa la compra de conciencias para manipular los aparatos de justicia, lo que terminó destruyendo, en niveles muy profundos, la conciencia moral del país. También fue escandalosa la corrupción con que sus ministros más cercanos manejaron la política agraria para favorecer a los más ricos con los dineros públi-cos, mientras impedía y estigmatizaba los proyectos sociales. La corrupción de sus hijos, para enriquecerse a costa de ventajas de poder, escandalizó en su momento a toda la nación. También utilizó el organismo de seguridad que estaba directamente bajo su control (el Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) para espiar mediante controles telefónicos clandestinos, a las Cortes de Justicia, a los políticos de la oposición, a los movimientos sociales y de derechos humanos.

Fueron en extremo escandalosos los mecanismos corruptos de los cuales se valió para lograr su reelección a la Presidencia en 2006, lo cual ha llevado a ministros y colaboradores cercanos suyos ad portas de la cárcel. El manejo que hizo de coordi-nación entre el Ejército y los grupos paramilitares llevó a que durante su período se produjeran 14.000 ejecuciones extrajudiciales. Sus estrategias de impunidad para quienes desde el Estado o el Paraestado perpetraron crímenes de lesa huma-nidad, pasarán a la historia por su atrevimiento.

La decisión de los jesuitas de Georgetown de ofrecerle una cátedra a Álvaro Uribe, no sólo ofende profundamente a los colombianos que aún conservan principios éticos sino que pone en alto riesgo la formación ética de los jóvenes que acuden a nuestra universidad en Washington. ¿Dónde queda la ética de la Compañía de Jesús?

Te escribo estas líneas porque estoy seguro que tú compartes nuestras preocupa-ciones y quizás podrás hacerlas llegar a los jesuitas de Georgetown y a otros círcu-los de opinión en tu entorno de simpatizantes por la justicia.

Recibe un fuerte abrazo.

Javier Giraldo Moreno, S. J.