A los pocos días apareció una respuesta. Se trataba del ex ministro de Protección Social Diego Palacio, quien no dudó en decir que posiciones como la del padre Giraldo no reflejaban un sentimiento cristiano. "Percibo en su carta odio profundo y resentimiento infinito, lo cual permite pensar que podría perder algo de objetividad, pero es triste que un jesuita se deje llevar por esos sentimientos", dijo Palacio en su misiva.
Sin embargo, y pese a la bulla, la primera charla de Uribe se dio. En la clase había cerca de 30 personas y Uribe se enfocó en lo que ha hecho en Colombia por abrir nuevos mercados, haciendo referencia a tratados de libre comercio con otros países, incluido Estados Unidos.
Después se conoció sobre una carta enviada a la misma universidad, pero esta vez por 80 destacados profesores universitarios, entre los que estaba incluido el filósofo Noam Chomsky. La carta respaldaba la que días atrás había enviado el padre Giraldo. "Su nombramiento es una afrenta a los profesores y su misión educativa", escribieron los profesores.
Ahora la carta es desde la Universidad de Harvard. Algunos estudiantes, entre los que se destaca el periodista Hollman Morris, quien se encuentra como becario, escribieron una carta manifestando su inconformismo por la presencia del ex presidente Uribe esta semana en el cierre de un evento en la Escuela Kennedy de esa universidad.
Como era de esperarse, la protesta llegó, sobre todo por las diferencias, que se conocen, entre el periodista y el ex presidente. La misiva cuestionaba que la universidad tuviera como invitado a un presidente que se vio envuelto es escándalos tan penosos como las ‘chuzadas’ y los ‘falsos positivos’.
Reiteran además el apoyo a la carta enviada por los académicos y la inconformidad de los estudiantes de Georgetown que han expresado su protesta sentida contra la presencia de Uribe allí también. “La decisión de los miembros de Harvard de invitar al señor Uribe como conferencista es una ofensa a muchos colombianos”, dice la carta.
Sin embargo, parece que ni las cartas ni las protestas han impedido que Uribe hable en diferentes claustros universitarios. Las charlas seguramente continuarán, y con estas la voces de protesta.
Esta es la carta más reciente:
President Drew Faust
Dean David Ellwood
Harvard Kennedy School
Professor Ricardo Haussman
Harvard Kennedy School
Dear President Faust, Dean Ellwood and Professor Haussman:
As students, scholars, fellows, teachers and alumns of this institution of higher learning that extols a strong commitment to the study and discussion of the pressing issues of the world today, we are writing to protest the visit of Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe Velez to the Kennedy School of Government this week.
The fact that Mr. Uribe's government (2002-2010) has received positive appraisals from some people in high political or economic positions, and that foreign investment to the country increased during his two terms in office, does not erase the complex legal, ethical and humanitarian problems that defined his tenure, and the investigations and sanctions imposed by international organizations that try to protect human rights. Among others, Mr. Uribe's government has been shrouded in corruption scandals and diverse incidents of human rights violations that have affected the institutional and democratic order of the nation and its citizens in profound ways. Both Mr. Uribe and his aides are currently being investigated by local authorities for their responsibility in illegal activities that range from unlawful phone interceptions to members of the opposition carried out during his administration by the national intelligence agency (DAS), to his personal and political connections with the paramilitaries, one of the most sanguinary armed actors in Colombia's ongoing armed conflict.
As has been consistently denounced by a diverse number of human rights groups, scholars, community leaders, journalists and individuals inside Colombia and elsewhere, here is a brief list of some of the ethical and legal problems that taint Mr. Uribe's legacy today. (Source: Human Rights Watch):
· The frequent extrajudicial killings of civilians attributed to the Colombian Army, which the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions recently described as "systematic." The Attorney General's Office is reported to be investigating cases involving more than 1,700 alleged victims in recent years. Uribe refuses to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem.
· Recent scandals over widespread illegal surveillance and wiretapping by the national intelligence service, which answered directly to Uribe. The surveillance focused almost entirely on major opposition political figures, Supreme Court justices investigating the infiltration of paramilitary mafias in the Colombian Congress, as well as on journalists, trade unions, and human rights organizations. (Please note that one of the people signing this very letter was a direct victim of these criminal acts of surveillance, along with his family).
· The repeated verbal attacks and intimidation of critics by Uribe and senior administration officials, who often try to link legitimate human rights work, journalism, or union activity with the brutal left-wing guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
· Ongoing anti-union violence, with the offenders rarely brought to justice. Colombia has the highest rate of killings of trade union members and leaders in the world. More than 2,700 are reported to have been killed since 1986, according to data collected by the National Labor School (Escuela Nacional Sindical or ENS). The ENS recorded 49 such killings in 2008, up from 39 in 2007. It recorded 20 of these killings in 2009 as of mid-June. Ninety-six percent of the killings remain unsolved.
Moreover, after his presidential period ended earlier this year, the intensity of the accusations against Uribe's administration increased in unprecedented ways, marked by the ongoing criminal investigations led by the country's Supreme Court against some of his closest aides. Politicians closely allied with the violent project of paramiltary warlords were consistently named by Mr. Uribe to public office during his two terms in office. Even worse, today more than a hundred members of Congress are involved in criminal investigations for their links with paramilitarism. All of them were members of President Uribe’s coalition. The corrupt mechanisms he resorted to obtain his re-election as President in 2006 have pushed several among his ministers and close collaborators to face imprisonment. This was all corroborated by The Economist in a recent article published on November 4th ("The dark side: The former president and his aides are called to account for dirty tricks"). Furthermore, in the past weeks, Mr. Uribe has been personally requested via subpoena to testify before a local court in a case that involves coal-giant Drummond's collusion with paramilitaries.
In the face of the myriad accusations and investigations that are currently under way against Mr. Uribe and his aides in Colombia, we cannot understand the reasons why this former politician will be treated as an honorary guest (for the second time in the past two years) at a University that sees itself as a center of critical thinking were human rights, justice, and democracy are valued. In this sense, we agree with the important academics from every corner of the United States and the students from Georgetown University who have expressed their heartfelt protest against Mr. Uribe's presence there as well. The decision by members of the Harvard Kennedy School to invite Mr. Uribe as a guest speaker is not only deeply offensive to many Colombians whose present and future is and will be affected by this government's misdeeds. It also places this Institution at risk of legitimizing the ethically suspect actions of a politician whose legacy is being strongly questioned on various grounds.
Furthermore, we observe with preoccupation the contradiction between the consideration of Mr. Uribe as an honorary guest at the Kennedy School, when current Harvard Neiman Fellow, Colombian journalist Hollman Morris, has publicly and explicitly denounced - information that has been corroborated by local and foreign journalists - that he was one of the victims of widespread illegal surveillance and wiretapping by national intelligence service activities during Uribe's administration.
As Colombians, students and scholars who are interested in Latin American politics and culture, and members of this university who are concerned with justice and value a critical engagement with the world around us, we strongly reject Mr. Uribe's presence at Harvard University as a priviledged guest of a center that values democracy, good governance, and justice.
María Ospina, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Alejandra Azuero, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School
José Rabasa, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley, Long Term Visiting Professor, Harvard University
Juana Dávila, Doctoral Student, PhD Program, Department of Anthropology
Hollman Morris, Neiman Fellow
Andrés Sanín, Doctoral Student, PhD Program, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Colette Perold, Student, Harvard College
Virginie Greene, Chair, Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
María Piedad Quevedo Alvarado, Doctoral Student, PhD Program, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, BA Candidate, History and Literature Concentration, Harvard College
Caroline Light, Lecturer and Director of Studies, Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Zoe Tucker, Student, Harvard College
Karen Narefsky, Student, BA Candidate, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard College
Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Ph.D. candidate, Deptarments of Comparative Literature and Film & Visual Studies
Abigail Brown, BA Candidate, Department of Social Studies, Harvard College
Karla Reyes, BA Candidate, Department of Sociology, Harvard College
Zuzanna Wojcieszak, Student, Harvard College
Lily Higgins, BA Candidate, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard College
Darryl Li, PhD Candidate, Anthropology & Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University
Adrienne Rosenberg, BA candidate in Social Anthropology and Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality
Michael Gould-Wartofsky, Alumn, Harvard College, Class of 2007
Walter Hryshko, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Charlotte Lieberman, BA Candidate, Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard College
Andreu Espasa, Lecturer in Catalan Language and Culture, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Juan Andrés León, PhD Candidate, History of Science Department
Lei'La' Bryant, Harvard College Class of 2011
Marcella Antonina Marcella, Harvard College Class of 2011
Julia Havard, Harvard College Class of 2011
John Sheffield, alumn, Harvard College Class of 2009
Jessica Villegas, Harvard College Class of 2011
Chelsea Link, Harvard College Class of 2012
Gabrielle Gould, Harvard College Class of 2011
Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza, PhD, Lecturer, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Inna Berezkina, Affiliate, Neiman Foundation
Marissa Vahlsing, Co-president, Harvard Law School Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
Sarah MacVicar, student, Harvard College
Komala Ramachandra, alumni, Harvard Law School 2010
E. Lamprea, Visiting Fellow at the Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
Nefer Muñoz, PhD Candidate, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Maxim Trudolyubov, Fellow Nieman Foundation
Benjamin Levin, JD Candidate, Harvard Law School
K-Sue Park, J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School