Regarding President Uribe, Pres. Bush said,
National leaders sometimes take office without fully knowing all the tests that await them. But when Alvaro Uribe became the President of Colombia, the challenges were in full view. He knew exactly what he was getting into.
For more than a generation, good and decent people across that country had lived at the mercy of brutal drug cartels and illegal armed groups. A contagion of terrorist violence and killings and kidnappings had shaken the political system and caused many Colombians to despair for their nation’s future. Early in this decade, the Republic of Colombia was near the point of being, at best, a failed state — or, at worst, a narco-state. In those conditions, it took more than ambition and ideals to run for political office — it required immense personal courage and strength of character.
As a presidential candidate in 2002, Alvaro Uribe pledged to his people greater security, a healthier democracy, and a better chance for prosperous lives. He was elected on a theme that expressed perfectly what the Colombian people desired in a president: “Strong hand, and big heart.”
President Uribe’s leadership has been resolute and uncompromising. Today in Colombia, homicides are down 40 percent, kidnappings are down more than 80 percent, terror attacks are down by more than 75 percent. The forces of violence are on the defensive, and the people are reclaiming their country.
President Uribe’s fellow citizens know him as someone who speaks forthrightly and follows through on his commitments. With his lifelong interest in public policy, he has a phenomenal grasp of the details of governing. At the same time, he has formed a powerful bond with his people. They met their President in town halls across the country. They’ve seen him deliver results. They like him and they trust him — and they have made him the first Colombian leader in the modern era to win reelection.
Lately I’ve been asked to reflect on the most memorable events of my presidency. Among those is a phone call I received several months ago from President Uribe. He called to say that a group of hostages — including three Americans that had been held in captivity for five years — had been rescued, and were alive and safe and sound. It was a joyful moment, Mr. President. And it was a credit to your leadership.
For President Uribe, the great demands of office continue. Today the United States honors all Colombians by honoring the man they have chosen to lead them. By refusing to allow the land he loves to be destroyed by an enemy within, by proving that terror can be opposed and defeated, President Uribe has reawakened the hopes of his countrymen and shown a model of leadership to a watching world. Colombia remains a nation with challenges. But the future will always be bright in a country that produces such men as President Alvaro Uribe.
Congratulations, mi amigo. (Applause.)
Allahpundit said that Uribe was out of place in the trio. Allahpundit is wrong. Alvaro Uribe has done more against terrorism in our hemisphere than any other head of state: the drug trade, criminality and terrorism are all threads in one fabric in our hemisphere.
More photos at Noticias24.
Also blogging: Gateway Pundit
UPDATE, Wednesday 14 January
Bush Awards Freedom Medals to Three U.S. Allies in Terror War
Bush credited Uribe with taking a country rife with drug cartels, killings and kidnappings, to one where terror attacks are down more than 75 percent. “The forces of violence are on the defensive and the people are reclaiming their country,” Bush said.
Elected in 2002, Uribe has strengthened democracy and the rule of law and brought to the country what voters most wanted in a president: “a strong hand and a big heart,” Bush said.
Related: Uribe’s Voice: Transcript of a Call