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May 23, 2012

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Yesterday, I wrote up a brief account of the news coming from Argentina that police had defused an explosive device targetting former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. To quickly recap,  police officers there allegedly “defused a bomb discovered in the ceiling of a Buenos Aires theater…and authorities said it was timed to explode during an appearance there by…Uribe.”  The Associated Press described the situation:

The bomb was hidden inside the power supply for a ceiling light in the second floor of the Gran Rex theater. It was attached to a cellphone with an alarm set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, just when Uribe would have joined a post-speech cocktail with business executives and other important guests, investigative Judge Norberto Oyarbide said…Uribe, who served as Colombia’s president in 2002-10, had been invited to speak about his country’s transformation as part of a symposium for executives organized by WOM-Latam, a private company that organizes leadership seminars and sold tickets to the cocktail party for more than $500 each.

As background, I wrote that “Uribe’s highly controversial approach to fighting former leftist guerillas-turned-drug traffickers has made him a popular target for protest most everywhere he goes.  His visit to Argentina this week to address the WOM Leadership Symposium on business management was expected to be no different, with activists gearing up to protest the former Colombian’s presence in the capital. Nor is Uribe a stranger to assassination plots: he’s survived at least three.  The fact that this attempt on Uribe’s life took place not in Colombia but at the opposite end of the continent, however, comes as something of a surprise.”

As it turns out, that surprise wouldn’t be the last.  This afternoon, Reuters ran a brief story that modifies the narrative of what happened in Buenos Aires.

An Argentine judge clarified on Wednesday that a small noise bomb discovered in a Buenos Aires theater where former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was due to speak was not a lethal device. Investigating judge Norberto Oyarbide told reporters on Tuesday that police had defused an explosive device that could have killed people nearby if it had gone off, raising suspicions that left-wing Colombian rebels may have been aiming at Uribe. But Police Captain Nestor Rodriguez later said two devices found in a cardboard box were “designed to make a thunderous noise, having little mechanical or destructive effect.”

Covering his ass by passing the buck, Oyarbide told Radio Caracol that “I was told the devices … had the capacity to cause significant harm,” and added that “he had been briefed by the head of the Argentine police’s anti-terrorism unit.”

Curiously, while the original story of an attempted assassination against Uribe grabbed headlines around the world, to my knowledge only the excellent folks at Colombia Reports and Chicago Tribune have bothered to update their coverage with news that the most serious threat to Uribe targeted his ear drums, not his life.  More on this story as it develops…

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