Jun 24

And the Greatest Colombian of All Time is… ALVARO URIBE

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So, the results are in. And it was a landslide.

With a staggering 30 percent of the over a million online votes, ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, has been declared the Greatest Colombian of All Time by the History Channel. Showing that Colombia is always a country of enormous contrasts, this is nearly twice the amount of votes received by the next “Greatest Colombian,” Jaime Garzon, and around six times the amount won by, for example, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. What do you guys make of all this?


The similarities between Uribe and Garzon. Ummmmm.... they both wear glasses.
The similarities between Uribe and Garzon. Ummmmm…. they both wear glasses.


Whatever you think, it’s undeniable that Uribe is a prominent figure in Colombian politics, a field not lacking in significant players of all stripes. On the one hand, he’s touted for significantly improving the security situation of the country, making it much safer and easier for you to travel to Colombia (and if you haven’t come here yet, what’s going on?). On the other, he’s been embroiled in a number of scandals, including wire-tapping and corruption.

We think there are many worthy candidates for this title, many that didn’t even make it to the final 25. However, Uribe’s romped it in. Here are some thoughts from you guys in See Colombia’s Facebook group about this already:

One Colombian thinks: “The two most noted, most voted for, are the great Jaime Garzon and Uribe; the first represents truth, peace, hope and the denunciation of corruption and violence, the other, represents the contrary. Our country, our Colombia, is extremely bipolar.”

Another has ideas along similar lines: “A country that is happy to be able to travel and use its highways that do not even connect the whole country and people still live in unreachable places…that’s why this man, Alvaro Uribe, is the greatest Colombian?? Do you forget how corrupted was his government and still it is?”

Or, more simply: “A political campaign. Garbage.”

Not particularly glowing recommendations.

What do you think? Have 300,000 Colombians got it wrong, or are our readers’ views just anomalies?

Does Alvaro Uribe, compulsive Tweeter and president of Colombia for two consecutive terms, deserve to be crowned the greatest Colombian of all time?


3 thoughts on “And the Greatest Colombian of All Time is… ALVARO URIBE

    Paul Giles on

    Yes, guys, perhaps understandably, talk about politics here generally quickly gets emotional. For me, this can be refreshing, as, for people in my native Australia, “emotional” is a word very rarely used when talking about the sorry excuses for politicians we seem to be landed with at the moment. Most people in Oz, I’d say, would rather not talk about politics at all. However, this Colombian emotion can also cloud issues, as both of you rightly point out.

    This is why it’s great to hear from you, Rafael, as you’ve clearly taken the time to make a measured and intelligent response, which goes further than making wild accusations and knee-jerk reactions (which, I should say, are also perfectly understandable when talking about a subject with such immense repercussions).
    Whatever your particular position on the man, I think it has to be admitted that Uribe is an extremely important and interesting figure in recent (and current!) politics.


    Rafael on

    There’s two sides to every argument. Jaime Garzon, for example has become a sort of saint in Colombia, even though he was just a comedian for the most part. Now, he participated in the liberation of number of kidnapped victims, and that made him quite popular. However, there were rumours (this is before his death) that he was a getting a cut on the ransom the family paid.

    The thing with Uribe is that he had a very strong personality/ belief system and this polarized the public. You guys have lived long enough in Colombia to see that politics in Colombia are very emotional and people don’t play fair when challenging each other ideas. That’s the case of Uribe. People in different political spectrums accused him of a bunch of crazy stuff, they claimed to have proof, evidence, this and that. I recalled seeing them handing over evidence to Condoleeza Rice, international human rights organizations/ courts, etc. So, what happened? Well, nothing because he never did any of those things.

    I find it interesting that, for instance, Piedad Cordoba announced some time ago the creation of an agency dedicated to investigate allegations of “false positives.” Interestingly, their database only went as far back as 2002, exactly when Uribe took power. As if this phenomenon just began occurring in 2002!!!

    One last thing, I read an article from a newspaper from Cucuta, Norte de Santander which laid out an argument I have held for many years and that is that insofar as the armed conflict goes, people in Bogota (and other large cities) may as well be in Europe because they have no idea what goes outside of their city. That’s why you hear people says stuff like: “a country that is happy to be able to travel and use its highways that do not even connect the whole country and people still live in unreachable places…” Only thing this guy forgot is that there’s people who do use those roads and highways and that many of them are working class people, peasants trying to get their produce to the markets in the city and just the fact that you should be able to travel anywhere in your own country without any fears. My personal guess is that that guy has never experienced what the FARC colourfully calls “armed curfew” where anyone who dares to travel on certain roads could get shot. They don’t know what it feels like to be in the middle of a siege, hear the shots or bombs that the guerilla sent to the towns… People who did voted for Uribe…

    Finally the allegations of corruption, many governments in Colombia has been corrupt. Uribe faced them head-on and raised the profile of many of those scandals as opposed to bury them like many before did. The “false positives,” for example, is a prime example of something many people knew, but couldn’t act on it since the official policy was to ignore the problem. Uribe didn’t do that and now he’s being blamed.


      Paul Fowler on

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Rafael. It’s great you took the time to respond because yours is a perspective that I personally have rarely heard.

      You’re right, politics in Colombia are very emotional, and so it’s great to see a clear headed response! I didn’t know about the rumours about Jaime Garzon but, as you say about Uribe, these rumours can easily start just to sully someone’s name.

      Thanks for stopping by.


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