Colombia, Locuras, Media

Last action hero— Uribe's prowess on the airwaves

Perusing the Colombian presidential site recently, I happened to stumble upon perhaps the most entertaining and self-aggrandizing highlight reel of Álvaro Uribe to date, donning a gushy tagline, ‘[A] fighter for democracy- 2008: A historic year’.

If the title doesn’t throw you a bone, the Tony Scott-esque, multi-hued quick cuts, and dramatic choir score all but drown you in Colombia’s political meld ’08. The short boasts a theatrical depiction of the year’s crises, to a theme vaguely reminiscent of Man on Fire— Uribe confronts Colombian injustice with a personal fervor, not afraid to rub elbows. Well, almost.

Running a hefty 20+ minutes, the recap of his administration’s advances in its ‘Democratic Security’ agenda marches to an obsessive crescendo rhythm: enter the ominous threat (be it FARC, ponzi schemes, etc.), pause for a reflecting lull, and alas, queue the over-the-top reverence of Uribe’s resolution (think teary Jerry Springer reunion of abandoned orphan siblings).

Apart from its telenovela sappiness, the video provokes its viewer and however awkwardly, highlights just a few reasons Uribe retains an impressive approval rating among Colombians. Not only has the president towed a line of security advances this past year, but he also showcases a cunning ability to leverage the media—both domestically and internationally.

It’s actually quite fascinating to observe the dichotomy of Uribe’s public demeanor in each sphere.

In declarations and interviews to the Colombian populace, he passes as intellectually calculating, authoritative, and rather inflexible to his agenda’s detractors (ie. branding his critics camouflaged communists or guerrilla sympathizers). Although undeniably a master orator, on many occasions he tends to polarize an audience with sharp rhetoric.

Whether it be at President Bush’s side in the Rose Garden, or at the table with Charlie Rose, Uribe has a lightened demeanor all together when addressing the international arena. Yes, iterating the complexities of one’s agenda in a foreign language dulls the scene, but more so, Uribe knows his audience, what he wants, and is quite witty in his varied approach to obtain it. He was an attorney after all.

While Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez often grabs headlines for the audacity of his media stunts and rants on his weekly television program, perhaps Bush, who awarded Uribe the Medal of Freedom this week, now wonders why he hadn’t sought a few media pointers from his more subtle, South American ally.

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