Conflicts & War

Colombians take to streets in support of detained ex-leader

Bogota, Aug 8 (efe-epa).- Supporters of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe took to the streets of several cities in caravans of vehicles in a show of support for the ex-leader, who was put under house arrest by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The biggest protests took place in the capital Bogota, where caravans of vehicles traveled across the city.

Mobilizations also took place in Medellin, where Uribe was born, Bucaramanga, Cali, Barranquilla, Pereira and other cities.

One of his supporters María Lesmes told Efe in Bogota: “We’re supporting President Álvaro Uribe Vélez because we believe that sending him to prison is not the right response for a president who has worked for his country, who has dedicated so many years to defending Colombia from terrorism, from narco-terrorism, from drug trafficking.”

Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010, was put under house arrest by the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice on Tuesday while investigations against him for witness tampering and fraud are carried out.

The court deemed that there was a risk the politician would obstruct the course of justice in the case.

His supporters carried out demonstrations in their vehicles due to restrictions imposed in the country over the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are with Uribe”, “Caravan of Freedom” and “Freedom for Uribe” were some of the messages on banners attached to car windows as they moved slowly through the streets, accompanied by police on motorcycles.

Most of the vehicles in the capital were adorned with Colombian flags and their occupants waved the tricolor through the windows while sounding their horns.

One protester Maria Claudia said: “We are giving a voice of encouragement and support to President Uribe.

“This is an infamy, a vile persecution, an absurd persecution.”

She said that while former Farc guerrillas are in congress posing as “holy doves” Uribe, founder of the Democratic Centre party to which Colombian President Ivan Duque also belongs, is under house arrest.

The reference was to former guerilla leader Jesús Santrich who was released by the Supreme Court in May last year despite an extradition request from the United States, which accused him of drug trafficking.

“Justice, which should be the safeguard of our democracy, today wants to lock up the greatest patriot this country has ever had,” Claudia added.

The show of support on Saturday was a shift from Tuesday when opponents of the former president took to the streets praising the Supreme Court’s decision.

The case against Uribe began in 2012 when leftist Senator Iván Cepeda began preparing a complaint in congress against him for alleged links to paramilitarism and manipulation of witnesses.

Supreme Court Justice José Luis Barceló closed the case and opened an investigation into the alleged witness tampering. EFE-EPA

mdc-ocm/rb

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