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Colombians revel, protest over order to detain ex-President Uribe

作者:admin 2020-08-08

Bogota, Colombia - Colombians took to the streets on Tuesday evening to celebrate and also protest against the Supreme Court order to detain ex-President Alvaro Uribe while investigations against him for witness tampering and fraud continue. 

The decision left many citizens shocked. Some pleased, others angered.

Throughout major cities, people stood on the roads and balconies to bang pots and pans and fly the yellow, blue and red Colombian flag. But it was hard to tell who was celebrating the court decision and who was supporting Uribe - possibly the most controversial and polarising living public figure in the country.

"It gives hope that justice is working and that we are in a democratic country," said Efrain Rincon, a 28-year-old biologist, who was celebrating on the street in a liberal downtown Bogota neighbourhood largely in favour of the detention. 

Residents of a downtown Bogota neighbourhood celebrate the Supreme Court order to detain ex-president @AlvaroUribeVel by house arrest while his trail for witness tampering and fraud continues. Supreme Court based decision on “potential for obstruction of justice to take place.” pic.twitter.com/vo1tH7KbrT

— Steven Grattan (@sjgrattan) August 5, 2020

In other parts of Bogota and in Colombia's second-biggest and more conservative city, Medellin, where Uribe is from, rallies were held in support of the former president.

More such rallies are expected in the coming days. In Bogota, there was an increased police presence in major public squares on Wednesday.

The hardline leader served from 2002 to 2010 and took an aggressive stance against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a left-wing rebel group. He continues to be an influential figure in the Andean nation which suffered a 52-year armed conflict.

Uribe's supporters see him as a hero who fought against a violent armed group, while critics highlight the spate of human rights abuse claims held against him, including the strengthening of right-wing paramilitary groups under his presidency that terrorised civilians.

"It is a huge deal for multiple reasons: it's unprecedented. Never has an ex-president been detained in Colombia's history, Colombian persons of tremendous influence are often not held accountable for crimes or even seriously brought into a judicial process," said Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, Andes director for the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

"In the case of Uribe, despite serious links and allegations to human rights abuses he's managed to dodge or stop judicial processes that implicate him," she told Al Jazeera.

Bogota

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