Journalist Fernando Garavito’s letter to Georgetown University

Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.

Esteemed Mr. President:

Press reports indicate that Mr. Alvaro Uribe, ex-president of Colombia, will teach classes at the Walsh School for Foreign Service beginning this fall. This news has many ethical implications that I’m not sure have been sufficiently considered by Georgetown University.

Mr. Uribe was President of Colombia for eight years. During these years, two areas of public policy reached critical proportions: first, administrative corruption; second, systematic trampling of the rights of the opposition and of human rights.

I am not an enemy of Mr. Uribe. I am, simply, a Colombian who is concerned that the teaching of "global leadership" in one of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions, fall into the hands of one who has exercised perverse leadership. At this time my daughter Manuela is beginning her university studies here in this country. She wants to participate in the public life of the United States, a country which has generously opened to her the doors that Mr. Uribe and his regime closed to her in Colombia. If by some chance she were studying at Georgetown and one of her professors were Mr.Uribe, I would not hesitate for one moment to ask her to withdraw from that institution.

I want to be clear: I have no desire to establish any form of censorship against Mr. Uribe. On the contrary, it seems to me that he has the obligation to give an accounting of his acts, which many people in my country consider to be "crimes." But this accounting must be given before a court of law. In Colombia at the moment preliminary documents for criminal proceedings are being prepared against him to be presented to the International Criminal Court. I believe that until his legal status is determined, he should not hold a chair at any institution which offers instruction to those whom he himself describes as "future leaders."

I would welcome an opportunity to debate some of these matters with Mr. Uribe before the university community. I am prepared to travel to Washington whenever you may call for such a debate. Your students have the right to know who their professors are, what they represent and what they have to teach them. My resume is insignificant compared to Mr. Uribe’s. I am, simply, one of the journalists whom he and the reigning powers of Colombia condemned to silence.

I believe that one of the obligations of university leadership is to defend the community placed under its care. The appointment of Mr. Uribe as a member of the Georgetown faculty is a threat to the ethical training of your students.

Cordially yours,

Fernando Garavito

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