A presidential pat on the head for Uribe

Evidently, a congratulations from Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough, and Alvaro Uribe is now getting presidential kudos for not trying to illegally seize power:  President Barack Obama is applauding Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for accepting a court decision that prevents him from running for a third term. Obama says Uribe’s respectful heeding of the Feb. 26 ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Evidently, a congratulations from Hillary Clinton wasn't enough, and Alvaro Uribe is now getting presidential kudos for not trying to illegally seize power: 

President Barack Obama is applauding Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for accepting a court decision that prevents him from running for a third term.

Obama says Uribe's respectful heeding of the Feb. 26 ruling by the Colombian Constitutional Court "will resonate in the Americas" as an "invaluable example."[...]

Evidently, a congratulations from Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough, and Alvaro Uribe is now getting presidential kudos for not trying to illegally seize power: 

President Barack Obama is applauding Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for accepting a court decision that prevents him from running for a third term.

Obama says Uribe’s respectful heeding of the Feb. 26 ruling by the Colombian Constitutional Court "will resonate in the Americas" as an "invaluable example."[…]

The Obama letter was delivered to Uribe on Thursday by U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones in Chile, where both men are attending the inauguration of that country’s new president.

I understand why Obama would be relieved that the United States’s most loyal ally in Latin America didn’t pull a Zelaya, but this seems very condescending to me.

There’s an ongoing debate over initiatives like the Ibrahim Prize, which gives former African leaders a monetary reward for good governance and upholding democratic norms, but that at least is a lifetime achievement prize which rewards behavior over the course of a career. Nothing screams paternalism and low expectations quite like congratulating a president in the developing world for doing something that most democratic leaders are simply expected to do.  

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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