While the Chronicle along with the rest of the U.S. Press accurately cited Alvaro Uribe’s landslide reelection victory in Colombia’s presidential elections on May 28, it failed to adequately recognize the growing opposition to his increasingly authoritarian presidency. The Bush administration, while accusing Venezuela’s leftist leader of consolidating his power, calculatedly turns a blind eye to Uribe’s far harsher policies. The White House may hope that Uribe’s election will mark the beginning of the recession of the recent “pink tide” of left-leaning South American governments opposed to U.S. regional power, but this may merely be wishful thinking.
While violent crime has declined under Uribe, repression has increased. Colombia’s intelligence agency, the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, has been accused to colluding with right-wing paramilitaries in the battle against the FARC leftist guerillas. Uribe has attempted to suppress media coverage of this and other issues. His government maintains a negative attitude towards human rights workers and sees them as quasi-terrorists, while granting impunity to notorious right-wing paramilitary leaders.
Though Uribe received 62 percent of the vote, there is a growing movement of opposition within Colombia, which will only expand as the citizens discover that Uribe only represents the country’s urban middle class. Evidence of this trend is already apparent with candidate Carlos Gavira receiving a record number of votes for Colombia’s left and also in the abnormally high rate of abstention in this election. With his well-established record of repression, Uribe – and the U.S. administration that endorses him – will face ever-increasing opposition.