Colombia Supreme Court Orders Ex-President Álvaro Uribe Detained

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On Tuesday, as darkness fell, Colombians throughout the capital, Bogotá, leaned out their windows to shout and bang pots in celebration of Mr. Uribe’s detention.

But in Medellín, an Uribe stronghold, hundreds of supporters gathered to show their support. “He gave us security like no other president did,” said Catalina Pozada, 42, who credited the former president for forcing one of the country’s guerrilla groups to halt kidnappings and highway blockades.

The court’s decision could also affect the current president, Mr. Duque, whose popularity sagged during his first year in office, until he got a bump for his handling of the pandemic. His supporters on the right may turn against him for not doing more to keep his mentor free, while critics on the left may use Mr. Uribe’s detention to taint Mr. Duque and associating him with criminals.

Mr. Duque defended his mentor on Tuesday, saying the former president embodied “honorability.” Speaking on a national radio station, Mr. Duque said the idea that Mr. Uribe would be aligned with paramilitary groups was “absurd.”

The case is one of several investigations in the Supreme Court into Mr. Uribe’s conduct over the years.

The investigation came about after Mr. Uribe accused a political opponent, Senator Iván Cepeda, of manipulating witnesses against him, prompting an investigation into Mr. Cepeda. That inquiry was closed in 2018, and the court decided instead to proceed with the investigation into Mr. Uribe for allegedly bribing a witness and procedural fraud.

“This is an important shift toward strengthening democracy,” Mr. Cepeda said. “Colombia has been a country with monarchic tendencies in which certain political figures are untouchable. Well, here there cannot be anyone above the constitution, above the law and above justice.”

Jenny Carolina González contributed reporting from Bogotá and Megan Janetsky contributed reporting from Medellín.

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