Last week some of us learned that Georgetown University has appointed the former president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, to a teaching post at its Walsh School of Foreign Service. Uribe, who is linked to paramilitaries that slaughtered thousands of innocents and who befriended drug traffickers — bringing them into the political mainstream — has been named Georgetown’s “Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership.” He begins work tomorrow, Sept. 8.
Apparently neither the university president nor the faculty nor the Jesuits have been apprised that lawyers are working to bring charges against Uribe at The Hague for human rights violations. Georgetown might just as well have invited the Philippines’ Marcos, Nicaragua’s Somoza or Liberia’s Charles Taylor to teach.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Georgetown in particular has a long history of supporting U.S. war-making. It has taken millions from the Pentagon, trained thousands of young Catholics in its ROTC program, hired Henry Kissinger, welcomed the person who ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and supported war-makers from the Shah of Iran to Ronald Reagan.
Georgetown’s students and faculty have for years joined the campaign to close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., which these days predominantly trains Colombia’s military officers and soldiers under the guise of fighting terrorism. Many of those soldiers then go back to their country and participate with paramilitary death squads in killing and torturing innocent people. I would expect the president, faculty, and Jesuits of Georgetown to know better than to welcome Uribe to join their ranks.