An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was discovered yesterday in a Buenos Aires venue slated to host former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (2002–2010). The device was found at the Gran Rex Theater, where Mr. Uribe was scheduled to speak at a conference promoting dialogue between public- and private-sector leaders on innovation. According to the judge in charge of the case, Norberto Oyarbide, “the symposium will still take place and former president Uribe will attend.”
Uribe’s administration is generally credited with greatly reducing violence stemming from Colombia’s decades-long conflict with left-wing guerilla forces, but his hardline approach has also left him vulnerable to allegations that his administration had ties to paramilitary forces and authorized actions that resulted in widespread human rights violations. Allegations have also surfaced that, on Uribe’s watch, Colombia’s Department of Administrative Security (DAS) undertook widespread illegal wiretapping on opposition figures, politicians, judges and journalists.
Yesterday’s discovery comes only days after an assassination attempt against Uribe’s former Interior Minister, Fernando Londoño, which left two dead and dozens injured. Londoño is a vocal supporter of current President Juan Manuel Santos’ “Legal Framework for Peace,” a bill that would provide benefits for demobilized paramilitaries and guerrillas and even permit them to run for public office.
Please find the original text below, submitted in Spanish.
A former minister hospitalized. Two of his bodyguards dead. Fifty wounded. Dozens of businesses destroyed. The vivid scenes in Bogotá on Tuesday reminded Colombians of the worst periods of narco-violence in the country. And whenever events occur in the capital, angry responses came from all sectors.
Colombia has recently been on a reverse trajectory when it comes to pain and violence. Still, a wounded ex-minister is more important than, say 10 civilians killed, and Bogotá, of course, is more relevant than Catatumbo or Choco—places that today show the raw and living reality of war.
The terrorists know this. It is common sense. Further, such an act has the potential to radicalize the most extreme forces. The reprehensible attack on Tuesday had all the ingredients for a real blow to the country.
1. The place: It occurred in the north of Bogotá, where, in addition to many pedestrians, students and workers, there are also two universities—Universidad Pedagógica and Universidad Sergio Arboleda—that represent the Left and the Right of the country. Although it was a coincidence that former Minister Fernando Londoño was walking by, it is not a minor detail that the attack was near a Transmilenio station on Avenida Caracas—one of the more popular streets for passenger traffic.
That resulted in widespread panic among the population. The force of the blow was compounded by the fact that it was not a remote area south of the city where citizens are accustomed to living with urban guerrillas and paramilitary militias. It was a centrally located area guarded by the national police where the impact was meant to be lethal.