(Translated by Colin Kluender, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Our Union opposes the bestowment of the 2016 Medal of Honor to ex-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe Vélez, awarded by Menéndez Pelayo International University’s Governmental Council “for his political leadership in the recent history of Ibero-America, as well as his dedication to the defense of public rights and liberties in Colombia and the American continent.”
When we first got word of the award we thought it was sarcasm, later we believed it to be a joke of poor taste; but it’s worse: it’s an insult to tens of thousands of victims of Human Rights violations committed by Uribe Vélez and the Colombian Army, under his control throughout his eight years of office (2002-2010).
Uribe is responsible for at least 4,700 extrajudicial executions in our country, where capital punishment has been abolished for more than a century. Uribe brought forth a regulation that awarded the militant authors of these crimes against humanity with promotions, extra pay, and vacations. The mothers of several victims from the municipality of Soacha, the latter of whom were cast off as “guerrillas killed in combat,” visited the Asturian parliament two years ago, bearing their pain on their shoulders, crying out for justice.
These serious crimes are under examination in the International Penal Court, who expressed that “[t]here is reasonable foundation to believe that the acts delineated above were committed following policy that, at the very least, is at a level of certain brigades within the Armed Forces, giving rise to the existence of a State or organizational policy set forth to commit said crimes.” The Colombian Council of State, in its verdict of September 7th, 2015, considered the extrajudicial executions as “systematic practice” by the Colombian Army. We consider them to be acts of terrorism by the State.
Furthermore, during the eight years of his government, at least 1,200 unionists and defenders of Human Rights were assassinated in absolute impunity, because the ex-president made macabre alliances with extreme-right narco-paramilitary groups in order to win over the Congress and justice institutions. One third of the senators within his legislature have been condemned for their bonds to drug trafficking and para-militarism, a diabolic mixture of policy, drug trafficking, corruption and systematic extermination of opponents, from which Colombia has still not recovered and by which his own brother, Santiago Uribe Vélez, is imprisoned.
Uribe Vélez violated the sovereignty and security of the European Union, as well as Spain, for years establishing offices and networks of illegal espionage with the purpose of “neutralizing” social and political opponents. The dangerous operations targeted dignitaries and European and Spanish institutions, and extended its arms all the way to Gijón, where the Administrative Department of Security – who took orders from the presidential office – spied on people who were persecuted for defending Human Rights in Colombia. In that period, they kidnapped, tortured and assassinated our colleague LUCIANO ROMERO MOLINA, a Nestlé unionist assassinated on September 10th, 2010, by the DAS and narco-paramilitarist of the alias ‘Jorge 40’, after Molina had taken refuge in Gijón.
Our country, tired of half a century of war, has expressed hope for a negotiated peace between the government and the guerrillas, but Uribe and the extreme-right, who benefit from the accumulation of land as a spoil of war, are currently collecting signatures in opposition to peace and organizing “civil disobedience” so that the war continues.
The dedication of this undeserved prize to the Creole fascist on behalf of one public Spanish university is an insult to all of us, and in doing so they have become accomplice to a terrible character, an enemy of democratic values and Human Rights.
But in response to this insult to thousands of victims, we publically demand that the bestowal of this distinction to Álvaro Uribe be revoked, and that there is a public act of reparation in which the value of so many people and social organizations that defend peace, human rights and fundamental freedoms in Colombia with their lives, is recognized.
Colombian Refugees Union in Asturias “Luciano Romero Molina.” Gijón, June 17th, 2016.