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“So the legacy of Uribe, I think, is huge. He restored Colombians’ confidence in their own country. He showed them that if the government put its mind to it, it could — with assistance from the United States — beat back the guerrillas.”

But some say it would be a mistake to attribute the transformation to Mr. Uribe’s leadership rather than to a host of other factors, such as the $7.3 billion in primarily military aid that Colombia has received from Washington over the past decade.

“When you double the military size and you triple the defense budget, you’re bound to get security improvements,” said Adam Isacson, senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America. “But I do think that a different president who was more respectful of the rule of law and more respectful of the opposition could have done the same — or better.”

Mr. Isacson and others noted that Mr. Uribe, while beloved by most Colombians, made his fair share of enemies — at home and abroad.

He locked horns with the judiciary and steamrolled his legislative opposition, earning accusations that he did not respect the checks and balances inherent in a true democracy.

Other Latin American leaders, particularly Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, viewed Mr. Uribe as an American lackey and, like his White House ally George W. Bush, a trigger-happy president whose campaign against the guerrillas knew no bounds — literally, in the case of Colombia’s 2008 airstrikes on a FARC base in Ecuador.

Human rights groups, meanwhile, took aim at various excesses that came to define Mr. Uribe in their eyes.

“Under his watch,” said Human Rights Watch’s Mr. Vivanco, “hundreds of poor youths were murdered by the military, hundreds of trade unionists were murdered by paramilitaries, and journalists and judges who sought accountability for such abuses were subject to severe harassment, including by the president and his intelligence service.”

Mr. Vivanco was referring to three prominent blemishes on the Uribe record that Colombian authorities are still investigating:

• The hundreds of “false positives,” civilians who where were shot by the country’s armed forces and dressed up in rebel uniforms to inflate body counts.

• The Watergate-like wiretapping cases that targeted Mr. Uribe’s opponents in government and the media.

• The widespread murders of trade unionists at the hands of right-wing paramilitary forces sympathetic to Mr. Uribe.

A fourth scandal, dubbed “parapolitics” in reference to politicians with illegal ties to paramilitary groups, has landed more than a dozen Uribe allies in prison.

Inter-American Dialogue (IAD) President Michael Shifter, who sits on Human Rights Watch’s Americas advisory committee, said that while the scandals tarnish the former president’s legacy, he thinks human rights groups have at times suffered from tunnel vision with regard to Mr. Uribe, whom he called “a net plus” for Colombia.

“The problem with the criticism is not that it’s not accurate or carefully done,” Mr. Shifter said. “It’s just that it’s a partial view of a more complex situation.”

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