Álvaro Uribe Defends Himself Against Corruption Charges

Uribe

Top Story — Colombia’s former president Álvaro Uribe appeared in congress Wednesday to defend himself against claims of corruption and ties to violent paramilitary groups.

Leftist Sen. Ivan Cepeda spoke for 90 minutes, presenting evidence, much of it previously seen, allegedly linking Uribe to right-wing paramilitary groups and drug traffickers. Cepeda said publicizing allegations was key to an ongoing process of political reconciliation, reported the Associated Press.

In addition to presenting several documents, Cepeda played an alleged audio recording of Uribe, then governor of Antioquia department, congratulating paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso for his efforts to secure the bordering department of Córdoba, according to Colombia Reports. Mancuso would go on to become the second-in-command of the notorious United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

Uribe, who served as president from 2002-2010, reportedly walked out of the Senate in protest before Cepeda’s speech began. But he later returned to dispute the claims.

For his part, Uribe accused high-ranking Sen. Jimmy Chamorro of dealing with drug traffickers, El Espectador reported. During Uribe’s presidency, Chamorro often cooperated, like much of the legislature, with the president.

Additionally, Uribe said Sen. Cepeda was inciting violence while serving the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), reported Semana.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The mayors of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles launched “Cities for Citizenship,” a program aimed at encouraging and aiding legal permanent residents of the U.S. to obtain citizenship.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry invited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to observe law enforcement in Texas, in response to Peña Nieto’s criticism of the governor’s deployment of the National Guard at the border last week.
  • Mexico is still recovering three days after Tropical Storm Odile.

Caribbean

  • A bipartisan group of 15 U.S. congressional lawmakers have encouraged the Haitian Senate to move forward with elections, after signing a letter sent to Haitian Senate President, Simon Desras, urging senators to pass the legislation needed to schedule the vote.
  • The U.S. embargo of Cuba has led to the extortion and human-trafficking of Cuban players attempting to play major league baseball in the U.S., according to a recent piece at Vox.

Central America

  • Guatemala’s government published a response article to an unpublished newspaper article, raising questions about the government spying on the media.
  • The Popular Resistance disrupted the 193rd anniversary of the independence celebrations in Honduras to protest against the country’s dependent relationship with the United States. They urged president Juan Orlando to stop depending on and obeying the U.S. military.

Andes

  • Standard & Poor’s changed Venezuela’s rating from B-minus to triple-C-plus. Given the high inflation rate, shortages of food and currency controls, S&P projects a one-in-two chance that Venezuela will default on its debt in the next two years.
  • A traditional Ecuadorian newspaper Diario Hoy is facing economic hardship and has had to reduce its circulation, according to a Deutsche Welle report on Ecuador’s press freedom. The director has accused the government’s communication law that came into effect last year, characterizing it as “terribly restrictive.”
  • Bolivia has denied U.S. claims that it hasn’t made “sufficient or meaningful efforts to adhere to the obligations they have undertaken under international counternarcotics agreements.”

Southern Cone

  • A midwife and two doctors have been put on trial for kidnapping the babies of leftist political prisoners during the military dictatorship, BBC News reports.
  • Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil have taken in close to 6,000 refugees from Syria, Foreign Policy reports.

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