Response to The Washington Post
To categorize Uribe’s opposition as a “one-man Twitter war” is like saying that Venezuela’s jailed opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who mobilized thousands of people in peaceful protests, waged a “one-man protest” because he was the one holding the megaphone
By Lia Fowler*
Following last week’s announcement by the Colombian government of a peace agreement with the narco-terrorist group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the Washington Post published an article that made its way around the world through numerous media outlets. Titled “Ex-President Uribe wages one-man Twitter war against Colombian peace deal,” it was a light article that briefly lauded the announcement of the deal without providing much information or context about it. Instead, it focused exclusively on Ex-President Alvaro Uribe’s response to the announcement via Twitter. It was a misleading article, containing gross inaccuracies and did nothing to contribute to informed discussion on the issues.
The article states: “[Colombian President] Santos has said that there will be a popular vote of some kind on the final peace agreement.” (1)
It is true that Santos made promises to the Colombian voters – in numerous televised speeches – that any agreement with the FARC would be brought to a referendum by the Colombian people. The writer failed to mention that despite Santos’ promises, in an interview with RCN news last month, he stated, “I have never been on-board with the idea of a referendum.” He later said, “a referendum would be suicide.” So, Santos lied to the Colombian people: while backpedaling on his initial promises could just be a change of heart, claiming never to have promised the referendum is plainly untrue.
In fact, if Santos and FARC leaders have their way, the Colombian voters will have no say in the matter at all. Santos is seeking to amend the constitution through the passing of two articles: The first would create a hand-picked commission whose purpose would be to ratify the Peace agreement, by-passing Congress. The second is an enabling law that would give the President 180 days in which to issue any decrees he saw fit, with no Congressional approval needed, in order ensure the implementation of the agreement. In essence, it would give Santos dictatorial powers, in the same way that Hugo Chavez gained dictatorial powers in Venezuela.
Further, the headline suggests Uribe is alone in his opposition to the deal. Yet 63.2 percent of Colombians are opposed to FARC leaders receiving no jail time, and 70 percent feel the deal does not provide justice for victims of the terrorist group, according to a Datexco poll. Further, Uribe is far from alone in criticizing the deal in the Twitterverse and through social media: Many of the country’s independent journalists have reported, tweeted and shared articles opposing the agreement and exposing its dangers. They have done so at great personal risk, as many have received death threats from the FARC and some have been forced into exile. The nation’s Inspector General has challenged the deal and demanded transparency regarding its details. Thousands of citizens and elected officials have voiced their opposition on Facebook and Twitter through memes, articles, videos and personal opinion.
To categorize Uribe’s opposition as a “one-man Twitter war” is like saying that Venezuela’s jailed opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who mobilized thousands of people in peaceful protests, waged a “one-man protest” because he was the one holding the megaphone.
*American Journalist and former FBI Special Agent