Former Colombian President to teach at Georgetown

Alvaro Uribe, the former President of Colombia who ended his second term on August 7, will teach students in the School of Foreign Service during the 2010-11 academic year.

Uribe, who the University named as a Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership, will hold seminars, conduct “programmatic activities,” and work with faculty members.

“We are looking forward to having President Uribe join our university community,” President John DeGioia said in a press release. “Having such a distinguished world leader at Georgetown will further the important work of students and faculty engaging important global issues.”

After being elected as President in 2002, Uribe gained popularity for his successful campaigns against drug trafficking and armed guerilla groups, such as the FARC and ELN. The conservative leader was re-elected in 2006, earning more than 60 percent of all votes.

Backed by overwhelming public support, Uribe attempted to run for a third term, but the Colombian constitutional court struck down the public referendum in February. (He was re-elected after a similar referendum amended the country’s single-term limit.)

“It is a great honor to participate in this prestigious Georgetown University program, sharing my experience with younger generations,” Uribe said. “My greatest wish and happiness is to contribute in the continuous emergence of future leaders.”

Uribe’s courses are not yet listed on MyAccess.

25 Comments on “Former Colombian President to teach at Georgetown

  1. I blush and admit that those facts appear to be out of date. props on nearly halving his nation’s murder rate in six years

  2. Don’t worry- extrajudicial killings, wiretapping, and stirring up diplomatic firestorms two weeks before leaving office are skills I have always wished to learn.

  3. Hey, SFS kid, Doug Feith is a tough act to follow. He had to one-up him somehow.

  4. don’t worry, there’s still time to transfer to brown.

  5. umm he probably learned from american politicians …we do all of those things

  6. Great for the university. Hope his views will inspire debate and dialogue.

  7. The people I know who took Doug Feith’s class thought he was knowledgeable about the subject and a great teacher. If Uribe can follow that act successfully, then, awesome. Learning doesn’t always have to be from people we think are right.

  8. Oh, that’s right. You see, I forgot that, if American politicians do something, it makes it ok. Also, next time I see the police dressing poor people up like criminals and shooting them to get government-provided bonuses, I’ll make sure to take notes (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8038399.stm).
    I agree that Uribe could provide an interesting perspective as a professor. He is certainly an accomplished academic and extremely intelligent man. However, I continue to question the University’s decision to employ as a professor someone who has presided over such egregious human rights scandals, even if his direct participation in them has not been proven.

  9. Congratulations to the University of Georgetown to welcome in our leader Alvaro Uribe Vélez like professor. In we admired it to Colombia and we thank for much by its ability to work and leadership.

  10. It’s not even Fall yet, and we already have another manufactured outrage brewing by the campus leftists. Great work, guys!

  11. Oh shit, let me go call off the die-in/protest/letter-writing campaign/phone drive I was single-handedly planning. I’ll also cancel that phone call I just made to Hugo Chavez. Wasn’t aware that voicing my informed opinion in a public forum gave away my trouble-making, leftist ways.

  12. If nothing at all, President Uribe has brought stability to an almost failed state. He most certainly is welcome to share his views and successes with the Georgetown community. The man has his flaws, and we’ll never know the precise lengths he went to achieve his goals. But I’d like to see evidence of his personal involvement in human rights abuses before calling into question the administration’s decision to employ him.

  13. Colombia is a failed state because of puppet dictators like Uribe. The Gini index for Colombia is the highest in the world. It is certainly reassuring to know that SFS- students for a fascist society- are so eager to learn from him.

    Yuck!

  14. Colombia does not have the highest Gini index in the world.

  15. Tom: Yeah, I think that’s more or less my view on it. He wasn’t a perfect leader by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly made things better. And he’s no Fujimori, who is a convicted criminal–if Georgetown offered him a job, I would be seriously upset, and with good cause, I think. If more convincing evidence comes out that Uribe committed or was behind the commission of human-rights abuses, we should re-evaluate, but for now, he seems like a good hire.

    Eileen: Yeah, I basically agree with you–just couldn’t pass up the chance for a dig at Feith. Universities are a place to debate and have your views challenged. If Doug Feith can help students learn from his experience and consider today’s issues in better context, that’s great. I know I benefited from my prosem with Tony Lake–listening to him talk about Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and the decision to bomb the Iraqi intelligence ministry were thought-provoking and valuable experiences.

    But we do need to be careful about who we hire. Fujimori, for example, would fit the criteria you and I have described, but he would absolutely not be a good hire for the university. Reputation matters, and actions matter even more. We need to be careful not to turn Georgetown into a refuge for washed up politicians. I think Feith was ok (even though a Pentagon IG report called his behavior at OSP “inappropriate”), but I’d be more concerned about hiring, say, John Yoo. For better or worse, you’re judged by the company you keep, and especially as a Jesuit university, we need to be careful. Governing of course involves making tough choices, and no politician (or person, for that matter) is perfect, but some are better than others.

    Ann–You’ve made an impressive number of misleading or inaccurate statements for a comment that’s only two lines long. Let me detail them:

    1. “Colombia is a failed state”: wrong. Look at the criteria posted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failed_state

    Colombia may not have a monopoly on the use of force within its country, but these days, by international standards, it’s doing fairly well. I don’t think you’d argue that the Philippines is also a failed state, even though the MILF (yes, that is actually the acronym, I promise) insurgency is highly active in Mindanao. On the other three counts–Colombia seems to be able to deliver a reasonable level of public services; its seems able to make legitimate collective decisions, as evidenced by the recent elections (which the OAS said were reasonably free and fair http://www.oas.org/OASpage/press_releases/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-267/10); and I don’t think anyone in their right mind could argue that Colombia can’t interact effectively in the international sphere.

    But I’m an empiricist, so here’s some data. In 2005, Colombia was number 14 on the failed states index, with a score of 95, good enough for the warning (most serious) classification (http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=103&Itemid=325). By 2010, its score had declined to 892, ranking it 41 worldwide and placing it in the next-lower category, alert (http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=99&Itemid=140). Now it’s possible that the value in 2005 was somehow elevated by Uribe in the three years since he took office in 2002, and that the decline is just a return to normal over the rest of his presidency; since the index was created in 2005, we can’t be sure. But that seems improbable. And by the numbers, Colombia does not appear to be a failed state. And even if it were, it appears Uribe has improved the situation, not made things worked

    2. “because of puppet dictators like Uribe”: also wrong. I won’t weigh in on your use of the term “puppet,” even though I disagree, just because it seems like an inherently opinion-based statement. But dictatorship? That’s demonstrably wrong. Uribe was democratically elected … twice, by overwhelming margins (he won 53 percent of the vote in a five-way first round in 2002, and he got 62 percent in an even more crowded field in 2006) The OAS described the voting conditions in 2006 as “completely normal” (http://www.oas.org/OASpage/press_releases/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-146/06); as for 2002, I’m not finding much reporting on the fairness of the voting, but as Uribe was not in federal office at the time, and the outgoing president was from a different political party, there’s no reason to believe that Uribe benefitted from any irregularities that might have occurred.

    Uribe was also overwhelmingly popular through most of his time in office. So how is he a dictator?

    3. “The Gini index for Colombia is the highest in the world”: As @ann has identified, this is completely wrong. According to the CIA world factbook, Colombia’s gini index is the 9h highest in the world (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html?countryName=Colombia&countryCode=co&regionCode=sa&rank=9#co) That’s embarrassingly high, I agree, but a couple of things First, it’s not out of keeping with the rest of Latin America. Number 10 is Brazil. Panama, Guatemala and Chile are numbers 12, 13 and 14, respectively. So perhaps income inequality is a Latin American thing, not a Uribe thing. Furthermore, as this memo for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Secretariat shows (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/27808464/FACT-SHEET-Gini-Coefficient), the gini coefficient in Colombia in 1999 (three years before Uribe took office) was 57.6. It slid to 53.8 in 2005 (http://www.theodora.com/wfb2006/colombia/colombia_economy.html) and as of 2008 sat at 58.3 (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html). The data isn’t in through the end of Uribe’s presidency, but it doesn’t look like he’s made things any worse.

    Colombia needs to combat income inequality. But its existence is not remotely his fault. Uribe delivered solid growth over his term. The murder rate fell dramatically (http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/2628-colombias-murder-rate-down-45-during-uribe-police.html). There are plenty of criticisms to be made of Uribe. But not any of the ones you identify, Ann.

  16. As someone who spent three semesters at a Jesuit college, and then moved on to “secular” universities (USC, UCLA, Stanford) I am not in the least surprised to see what I assume to be the campus’s reaction to Georgetown’s hiring of Columbia’s Uribe.

    On the one hand are the moralists, whom I admire, complaining about Georgetown’s hiring someone with such a abysmal human rights record. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/world/americas/16colombia.html AND http://www.counterpunch.org/cryan08252004.html

    For the rightness of their position, how can they be unaware of the fact that coddling killers, but the “right” kind of killers, is standard Catholic practice? After all, the Catholic Church has a long, long history of aligning itself with ghastly tyrants – from Franco http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,895008,00.html AND http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2758581.ece

    to Pinochet, http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/mar1999/pope-m04.shtml

    to Argentina’s death squads http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/917266.stm

    and to too many more than space/time permits.

    So for shoe of you who are shocked, shocked!, grow up, already! What kind of an outfit do you think you’re aligned with?

    And for those of you who welcome a tyrant and thug, congratulations! You’re in perfect alignment with centuries of hierarchical Catholic practice. Uribe mostly killed trade unionists, leftists and the poor. And we can certainly do without them!

    GaryA

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