Unintended Irony Watch: the Washington Post on its (New?) Man in BogotÃ¡
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Oh, this is rich. On Sunday, the Washington Post ran a story on the scandals surrounding Colombian president Álvaro Uribe. "The latest revelations," according to the Post, are that "the secret police had spied on Supreme Court judges, opposition politicians, activists and journalists." They "come on top of an influence-peddling scandal involving the president's two sons, Tomás and Geronimo, and a widening probe of the links between Uribe's allies in Congress and right-wing paramilitary death squads."
Then there is this absolutely beautiful little piece of unintended irony:
The allegations have dominated news coverage, with even media outlets that are openly supportive of Uribe revealing details embarrassing to the presidency. Government officials appear clearly uncomfortable.
These embarrassing details come from the WaPo, which by any rational measure is a media outlet that is itself "openly supportive of Uribe." (It also quotes a number of American government officials who "appear clearly uncomfortable.")
Remember this editorial bashing Democrats who dared to question our unwavering support for Colombia's right-wing government?
COLOMBIAN President Álvaro Uribe may be the most popular democratic leader in the world... In a region where populist demagogues are on the offensive, Mr. Uribe stands out as a defender of liberal democracy, not to mention a staunch ally of the United States...
Democrats claim to be concerned -- far more so than Colombians, apparently -- with "revelations" that the influence of right-wing paramilitary groups extended deep into the military and Congress. In fact this has been well-known for years; what's new is that investigations by Colombia's Supreme Court and attorney general have resulted in the jailing and prosecution of politicians and security officials. Many of those implicated come from Mr. Uribe's Conservative Party, and his former intelligence chief is under investigation. But the president himself has not been charged with wrongdoing.
See, the president himself wasn't charged with any wrongdoing -- yes, his closest advisers and half of his family members have been, but not Uribe!
Interestingly, today's Post profiles Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, a candidate to replace Uribe should the latter decide against seeking a Constitutional change that would allow him to run for another term (it's worth noting that the Post, which greeted a similar move by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as a seizure of dictatorial powers, characterizes the prospect in Colombia as a minor technocratic fix -- Uribe, after all, "stands out as a defender of liberal democracy," so ...).
And from the tone of the piece, it looks like the Post is ready to throw its weight behind Santos -- here are some key graphs:
Should Santos run and win, the Obama administration would have as a partner a U.S.-educated politician well versed in Washington ways, in contrast to Uribe, a provincial politician with little knowledge of the inner workings of U.S. politics. In frequent trips to the American capital, Santos has cultivated ties with Republicans and Democrats, particularly among those supportive of Uribe's tough military strategies against guerrilla groups and drug traffickers.
As defense minister for nearly three years, Santos spearheaded implementation of Uribe's security policies. Uribe is considered one of the closest U.S. allies in Latin America, receiving more than $5 billion in American assistance, most of it to improve Colombia's military capacity and to fund an ambitious drug-crop eradication program.
Santos has also served as trade minister and finance minister in two previous administrations. An economist and journalist, Santos is a scion of the politically powerful Santos family, which runs Colombia's most influential newspaper, El Tiempo, and produced one president, Eduardo Santos, in 1938.