Understanding Uribismo

Uribismo is the policies of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. An uribista is a supporter of those policies. Uribismo on Wikipedia (translated from Spanish):

Democratic Security: Society participates in the war against narco-terrorism, and in improving the police and military. Democratic Security aims to eliminate all forms of terrorism, and to achieve complete state control over security.

Investor Confidence: Promote foreign investment in Colombia to create more jobs. Aims to position Colombia in the global economy and developing Colombia into a tourist destination. A strong state is needed for this, as detailed in the Democratic Security policy.

Social Cohesion: Improving quality of life for all. Aiming to bring a state presence to people and places far from the capital, which have served as a refuge for guerrillas and paramilitaries for years. Aiming to improve health care coverage, education, utilities, internet, and environment preservation. With Social Cohesion, inhabitants of remote areas won’t be tempted to join narco-terrorist groups.

State of Opinion: This makes no sense so I’m not translating it.

This is the official line defining uribismo. Who can argue? As with most political platforms, it’s specifically generic so it doesn’t alienate anyone.

I got a different explanation from a proud uribista. This isn’t the official line, and it’d certainly be disowned by Uribe. But this is how it was explained to me by Proud Uribista. And it’s probably closer to the heart and soul of popular uribismo.

Proud Uribista said he wants more than a strong hand (mano firme) in government. Proud Uribista wanted Uribe to exceed the bounds of legality against the FARC and drug cartels. Proud Uribista believes the government enemies can’t be defeated legally. Cocaine profits make them too powerful. Proud Uribista wanted someone to cross the line in waging war against guerrillas and narco-terrorists. Proud Uribista voted for an aggressive military that doesn’t hesitate to attack the FARC outside Colombia’s borders. Proud Uribista voted for an aggressive government that wouldn’t refrain from any tactic in defeating the FARC.

As I said in Why Petro beat Peñalosa, I didn’t know anybody who wanted Santos for president (I met Proud Uribista after the election). But I once attended a party of mostly paisas. Uribe’s from Medellin. Carlos Castaño was from Antioquia, a Colombian paramilitary hotbed. The party’s banter turned political. Uribe hadn’t been disallowed from running for a third term, and these paisas were arguing whether he or Santos should be the next president. No other candidate was mentioned. They argued over who would be the biggest paraco. They wanted an ally to the paramilitaries.

Bogota has been far removed from the guerrilla-paramilitary violence that plagues the countryside and small towns, the “pueblo.” But all Colombians can relate to cocaine-funded enemies of the state. The hunt for Pablo Escobar was inarguably helped by the extrajudicial killings of Los Pepes. The spirit of uribismo, according to Proud Uribista and the paisas from that party, seems to be in that same vein of vigilantism.

Fun Facts:

  • Alvaro Uribe was one of three world leaders awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. The other two were Tony Blair and John Howard.
  • Uribe attended both Harvard and Oxford universities.
  • Uribe’s father was kidnapped and murdered by the FARC in 1983.
  • The FARC fired mortars from Bogota’s infamous Cartucho at the Presidential Palace during Uribe’s inauguration. They missed and hit a nearby neighborhood, killing several civilians.
  • Uribe enjoyed 80% approval upon leaving office, but his legacy has since been tainted by corruption allegations. Much of his former cabinet is in jail or awaiting trial.



  1. Colin,
    If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode about Escobar and the Colombian team that made it to the World Cup and their intertwined stories. Netflix had it last time I checked.


  2. Diplomacy doesnt work, its been proven John in regards to Colombia…be the martyr and clear everyone out of the jungle, many lives will be lost but the outcome 20 years from now will be worth it


  3. Diplomacy doesnt work, its been proven John in regards to Colombia…be the martyr and clear everyone out of the jungle, many lives will be lost but the outcome 20 years from now will be worth it


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