150 Scholars Call on Georgetown to Fire Álvaro Uribe

(Via www.Nacla.org: Editor’s note — This is a republication of a press release issued on September 29, 2010. The document, which was signed by more than 150 scholars, asks Georgetown University to dismiss former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe as a visiting scholar.)

WASHINGTON DC: Students are delivering an open letter to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia today, signed by over 150 scholars, urging the university to reconsider its appointment of former president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe as a visiting scholar. Signed by a number of Georgetown professors, leading scholars on Colombia, and many others, the letter objects to Uribe’s ties to paramilitary groups, the “false positives” scandal (in which members of the Colombian military killed civilians and dressed the bodies in the uniforms of guerrillas), corruption and human rights violations in his administration, manipulation of the judiciary, and a notorious wiretapping scandal, as among their concerns over Uribe’s appointment.

“Given the human rights scandals associated with Álvaro Uribe’s administration, and the ties between his administration and illegal paramilitary groups, it is disturbing that Georgetown University has chosen to host him this year,” said Lesley Gill, Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

Signers of the letter include Joanne Rappaport, a Colombia expert and Professor of Anthropology and Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University; Greg Grandin, Professor of History at New York University and author of the Pulitzer Prize Finalist book Fordlandia; Yale University professor Gilbert M. Joseph; and Father Ray Kemp, Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, among many others.

The full text of the letter follows:

John J. DeGioia
Georgetown University

September 27, 2010

Dear Sir,

Concerning former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s appointment at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service as “Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership,” we would like to signal our agreement with the basic thrust of the open letter Father Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J., wrote to peace activist Father John Dear, S.J., on September 6, 2010, and add our support for Father Dear’s efforts to have Mr. Uribe removed from his post.

We reproduce the text of the letter from Father Giraldo to Father Dear:

Dear John,

I send you fraternal, loving greetings.

I write to you with great concern regarding the fact that our Jesuit university, Georgetown, has hired former president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe Vélez, as a professor. I am constantly receiving messages from individuals and groups who have suffered enormously during his term as president. They are protesting and questioning the mindset of our Company, or its lack of ethical judgment in making a decision of this kind.

It is possible that decision makers at Georgetown have received positive appraisals from Colombians in high political or economic positions, but it is difficult to ignore the intense moral disagreements aroused by his government and the investigations and sanctions imposed by international organizations that try to protect human dignity. The mere fact that, during Uribe’s political career, while he was governor of Antioquia Department (1995-1997), he founded and protected so many paramilitary groups, known euphemistically as “Convivir” (“To Live Together”), who murdered and “disappeared” thousands of people and displaced multitudes, committing many other atrocities, would imply a need for moral censure before entrusting him with any future responsibility.

But not only did he continue to sponsor those paramilitary groups, but he defended them and he perfected them into a new pattern of legalized paramilitarism, including networks of informants, networks of collaborators, and the new class of private security companies that involve millions of civilians in military activities related to the internal armed conflict, while at the same time lying to the international community with a phony demobilization of the paramilitaries.

In addition, the scandalous practice of “false positives” took place during Uribe’s administration. The practice consists in murdering civilians, usually peasants, and after killing them, dressing them as combatants in order to justify their deaths. That is the way he tried to demonstrate bogus military victories over the rebels and eliminate the activists in social movements that work for justice.

The corruption during his administration was more than scandalous, not just because of the presence of drug traffickers in public positions, but also because the Congress and many government offices were occupied by criminals. Today more than a hundred members of Congress are involved in criminal proceedings, all of them President Uribe’s closest supporters.

The purchase of consciences in order to manipulate the judicial apparatus was disgraceful. It ended up destroying, at the deepest level, the moral fabric of the country. Another disgrace was the corrupt manner in which the ministers closest to him manipulated agricultural policy in order to favor the very rich with public money, meanwhile impeding and stigmatizing social projects. The corruption of his sons, who enriched themselves by using the advantages of power, scandalized the whole country.

In addition, Uribe used the security agency directly under his control (the Department of Administrative Security) to spy on the courts, opposition politicians, and social and human rights movements, by means of clandestine telephone tapping. The corrupt machinations he used to obtain his re-election as President in 2006 were sordid in the extreme, with the result that ministers and close collaborators have almost been jailed.

He manipulated the coordination between the Army and the paramilitary groups that resulted in 14,000 extrajudicial executions during his term of office. His strategies of impunity for those who, through the government or the “para-government,” committed crimes against humanity will go down in history for their brazenness.

The decision by the Jesuits at Georgetown to offer a professorship to Álvaro Uribe, is not only deeply offensive to those Colombians who still maintain moral principles, but also places at high risk the ethical development of the young people who attend our university in Washington. Where are the ethics of the Company of Jesus?

I am writing these lines to you because I am sure that you will share our concerns and perhaps you can forward them to the Jesuits at Georgetown and to other circles of thoughtful persons you know and to those who are in sympathy with justice.

With a fond embrace,

Javier Giraldo Moreno, S.J.

We hope you will reconsider your decision to appoint Álvaro Uribe at Georgetown in light of the concerns noted above. His presence there is an affront to scholars and their educational mission.


Osama Abi-Mershed, Assistant Professor of History, Georgetown University

Rodolfo Acuña, Professor of Chicano/a Studies, California State University, Northridge

Sonia E. Alvarez, Leonard J. Horwitz Professor of Latin American Politics and Society, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Mark Anderson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Tim Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney

Juan Manuel Arbona, Associate Professor and Chair, Growth and Structure of Cities Department, Bryn Mawr College

Benjamin Arditi, Professor, Centro de Estudios Politicos, Facultad de Ciencias Politicas y Sociales, UNAM, Mexico

Arturo Arias, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Texas, Austin

Robert Austin, Ph.D, Fellow, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne
Beth Baker-Cristales, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Acting Director, Latin American Studies Program, California State University, Los Angeles

Teo Ballvé, Former Editor, NACLA Report on the Americas, Ph.D. Student in Geography, University of California, Berkeley

David Barkin, Profesor de Economía, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco

Anthony Bebbington, Professor and ESRC Professorial Research Fellow, University of Manchester, UK

Marc Becker, Professor of Latin American History, Truman State University

Ericka Beckman, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and Program in Comparative and World Literatures, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Susan Besse, Associate Professor of History, City College and The Graduate Center, Director, City College Fellowships Program, City University of New York

John Beverley, Distinguished Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh

Larry Birns, Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

John D. Blanco, Professor of Literature, University of California, San Diego

Anthony Bogues, Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science, Brown University

Paola Bohorquez, Ph.D., York University, Toronto

Paul A. Bové, Distinguished Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh

Donald W. Bray, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles

Marjorie W. Bray, Director of Latin American Studies, retired, California State University, Los Angeles

Renate Bridenthal, Professor Emerita of History, Brooklyn College

Bob Buzzanco, Professor of History, University of Houston

Marisol de la Cadena, Associate Profesor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis

Laura Carlsen, Director, Americas Program/Programa de las Americas

Marc Chernick, Visiting Associate Professor of Government, Georgetown University

Ron Chilcote, Professor of Economics, University of California, Riverside

Amy Chazkel, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

George Ciccariello-Maher, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Drexel University

Christopher Clement, Visiting Professor of Politics, Pomona College

James D. Cockcroft, Ph.D., SUNY online professor

Peter Cole, Assoc. Professor of History, Western Illinois University and Ph.D., Georgetown, 1997

Jaime Concha, Professor of Literature, University of California, San Diego

Christopher Connery, Professor of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz

Antonia Darder, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Pablo Delano, Professor of Fine Arts, Trinity College

Guillermo Delgado-P., Ph.D., Anthropology Department, Field Studies Director,
University of California, Santa Cruz

Robin Maria DeLugan, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Merced

Mônica Dias Martins, Professor of Political Science, Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Brazil

Arif Dirlik, Liang Qichao Memorial Visiting Professor, Tsinghua University, Beijing, Knight Professor of Social Science, University of Oregon

Francisco Dominguez, Ph.D., Program Leader for Spanish and Latin American Studies, Head of Centre For Brazilian and Latin American Studies, Department of English, Languages and Philosophy, Middlesex University, UK

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Professor Emerita of Ethnic Studies, California State University

Luis Duno, Associate Professor of Caribbean Studies and Film, Rice University

Marc Edelman, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Hunter College, CUNY

Steve Ellner, Profesor of Political Science, Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela

Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Daniel Faber, Professor of Sociology, Northeastern University

Sujatha Fernandes, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY

Raul Fernandez, Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine

Bill Fletcher, Jr., BlackCommentator.com editorial board member

Alcira Forero-Peña, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Lehman College, CUNY

Dana Frank, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz

Gavin Fridell, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Politics,
Trent University, Ontario, Canada

Lesley Gill, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University

Stephen R. Gliessman, Ruth and Alfred Heller Professor Emeritus of Agroecology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Gabriel Ignacio Gómez, Professor, Universidad de Antioquia Law School (Colombia)

Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University

Gilbert González, Professor Emeritus of Chicano and Latino Studies, University of
California, Irvine

Todd Gordon, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, York University,

Bruce Grant, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University

Jean Max Guieu, Professor of French, Georgetown University

Bret Gustafson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Washington University

Edgar Ivan Gutierrez, Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies, Riverside City

Peter Hallward, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, London

John L. Hammond, Professor of Sociology, CUNY

Jim Handy, Professor of History, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Mark Healy, Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley

Judith Adler Hellman, Professor of Political and Social Science, York University

Doug Hertzler, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Eastern Mennonite University

René Harder Horst, Associate Professor of History, Appalachian State University

Peter James Hudson, Assistant Professor of History, Vanderbilt University

Jean Jackson, Professor of Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Maurice Jackson, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies,
Georgetown University

Dale Johnson, Professor of Sociology (Retired), Rutgers University

Gilbert M. Joseph, Farnam Professor of History and International Studies, Yale University

Alejandro Kaufman, Profesor Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires/Universidad Nacional de Quilmas

Susana Kaiser, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Chair, Latin American Studies, University of San Francisco

Father Ray Kemp, Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University

Robert M. Irwin, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Davis

Maria Lagos, Assistant Professor Emerita of Anthropology, CUNY

Mark Lance, Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Sidney Lemelle, Professor of History, Pomona College

Marcia Landy, Distinguished Professor of English and Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Catherine LeGrand, Associate Professor of History, McGill University, Montreal

Deborah Levenson, Associate Professor of History, Boston College

Kathryne V. Lindberg, Professor of English and Africana Studies, Wayne State University

Peter Linebaugh, Professor of History, University of Toledo

Dr. Gilberto López y Rivas, Profesor Investigador, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro Regional Morelos, Mexico

Flora Lu, Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Sheryl Lutjens, Women’s Studies Department, California State University, San Marcos

Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Chair of Anthropology, Brown University

Florencia E. Mallon, Julieta Kirkwood Professor and Chair of History, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Patricia Martin, Professor in Human Geography, Université de Montréal

Luis Martín-Cabrera. Assistant Professor, Literature, University of California, San Diego

Peter McLaren, Ph.D., F.R.S.A, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Andrés Medina Hernández, Ph.D., Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Breny Mendoza, Professor, California State University, Northridge

Jim Merod, Professor American Literature, Soka University of America/Aliso Viejo, California

Minoo Moallem, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Elizabeth Monasterios, Associate Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh

Isidoro Moreno-Navarro, Ph.D., Catedrático (Senior Professor) de Antropología, Universidad de Sevilla, Andalucía, España

Frederick B. Mills, Professor of Philosophy, Bowie State University

Lisa L. North, Professor Emerita of Political Science, York University, Toronto
Fellow, Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), York

Enrique C. Ochoa, Professor of History and Latin American Studies,
California State University, Los Angeles

Daniel T. O’Hara, Professor of English and First Mellon Term Professor of
Humanities, Temple University

Andrew Orta, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Associate Professor of History, Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Connecticut

Rev. Dr. Joseph Palacios, Adjunct Professor, Center for Latin American Studies, Georgetown University

Donald A. Pease, Professor of English, Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, Dartmouth College

Ivette Perfecto, George W. Pack Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Hector Perla Jr., Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

John Pilger, Journalist, UK

Deborah Poole, Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University

Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Georgetown University alumni, College, 1975

Pablo Alejandro Pozzi, History Department, University of Buenos Aires

Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History, Director and Professor of International Studies, Trinity College

Richard Purcell, Assistant Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University

Peter Ranis, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, CUNY

Joanne Rappaport, Professor of Anthropology and Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown University

Marcus Rediker, Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History, University of Pittsburgh

Darryl Reed, Associate Professor, Business & Society, Chair, Department of Social Science, York University, Toronto, President, Canadian Association for Studies in Cooperation

Gerardo Renique, Associate Professor of History, City College, CUNY

William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology and Global and International Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara

Clemencia Rodriguez, Professor of Communication, University of Oklahoma

Victor M. Rodriguez, Professor, Department of Chicano and Latino
Studies, California State University, Long Beach

Cristina Rojas, Professor, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Nancy Romero, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Brooklyn College

Jan Rus, Latin American Perspectives

Eduardo Sáenz Rovner, Professor, School of Economic Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Rosaura Sanchez, Professor of Literature, University of California, San Diego

Olga Sanmiguel, Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Cincinnati

T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Iowa

Ellen Schrecker, Professor of History, Yeshiva University

Barbara Schroder, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Center for Advanced Study in Education, CUNY

Sheila M Shannon, Associate Professor of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado-Denver

Victor Silverman, Associate Professor of History, Pomona College

Brad Simpson, Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs, Princeton University, Director, Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project

Julie Skurski, Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

Carol A. Smith, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, University of California, Davis

William A. Spanos, Distinguished Professor of English, State University of New York, Binghamton

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

Richard Stahler-Sholk, Professor of Political Science, Eastern Michigan University

Anita Starosta, Rhode Island School of Design

Marcia Stephenson, Associate Professor of Spanish, Purdue University

Pamela Stricker, Associate Professor of Political Science, California State University, San Marcos

Steve Striffler, Professor of Anthropology and Geography, Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies, University of New Orleans

Silvia Tandeciarz, Professor and Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures, College of William and Mary

Margo Taméz, Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies/Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia

Sinclair Thomson, Associate Professor of History, New York University

Miguel Tinker-Salas, Miguel R. Arango Professor in Latin American History, Pomona College

Mayo C. Toruño, Professor of Economics, California State University, San Bernardino

Stefano Varese, Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, University of California, Davis

Max Viatori, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Iowa State University

Steven S. Volk, Professor of History and Chair, Latin American Studies, Oberlin College

Marilyn Young, Professor of History, New York University

William Walker, Professor of History, University Toronto (ret.)

Clare Weber, Professor of Sociology, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Jeffery R. Webber, Lecturer in Politics, Queen Mary, University of London

Dr. Ingrid Wehr, Associate Professor, University of Freiburg/Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute, Freiburg (Germany)

Judith A. Weiss, Professor Emerita of Modern Languages and Literatures, Mount Allison University, Canada.

Margaret Wiener, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hil

Diana Pei Wu, Ph.D., Antioch University, Los Angeles

Caroline Yezer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross

George Yúdice, Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, Professor of Latin American Studies, University of Miami

Marc Zimmerman, Professor of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Houston