Colombia

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Colombia

Innlegg Vegard Martinsen 10 Jul 2008, 11:36

http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.a ... 8AA6BCD6C9


An Ally Betrayed
By Jacob Laksin

Last week’s daring rescue of 15 Colombian hostages held by the Marxist FARC has been universally hailed as a triumph of military strategy. But at least one group besides the gulled guerilla jailers looks diminished in its aftermath: Congressional Democrats.

While Colombia’s military will rightly reap praise for the rescue, the operation was in no small measure an American achievement. In addition to U.S. satellite intelligence that pinpointed the FARC guerillas’ jungle location, Colombian security forces have benefited from $4 billion in American aid since 2002.


For this assistance – so vital in last week’s events – Colombia does not have Democrats to thank. To the contrary, since assuming control of Congress in 2006, Democrats have made a cynical practice of slighting Latin America’s most pro-American government, not least on the issue of military aid.


Last year in particular saw an upsurge of anti-Colombian agitation on Capitol Hill. Goaded on by Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, head of the Senate subcommittee overseeing foreign aid, Democrats froze $55 million in military aid in April 2007. Al Gore, adding insult to injury, refused that same month to appear at an environmental conference with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Why a respected head of state would even wish to be seen alongside a political washout and global warming hysteric was unclear. Nonetheless, Gore’s no-show was a stinging insult to Uribe. It was not the last.


Nancy Pelosi, fresh from an April 2007 sit-down with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, threatened to withhold an audience with the democratically elected and widely popular Uribe during his May visit. Eventually agreeing to a talk with Uribe, Pelosi didn’t conceal her contempt. In stark contrast to her visit to the Hezbollah-sponsor Syria, where Pelosi gushed that the “the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” Pelosi berated Uribe, accusing his government of aiding “illegal paramilitary forces” and implicitly decrying him as the enemy of Colombians who want “to build a stronger democracy.” So much for Democrats’ vaunted diplomatic tact.


Colombia’s delegation was so jarred by Democrats’ hostility that, according to journalist Robert Novak, Vice President Francisco Santos publically contemplated severing U.S.-Columbian ties.


In response, Democrats only stepped up their attacks. Having previously rejected a free-trade agreement with Columbia, Democrats began bullying on financial aid. Connecticut’s Chris Dodd menacingly declared, in a letter co-authored with senate colleagues, that “maintaining current levels of assistance will be difficult to justify.” Pat Leahy blustered that “Congress is not going to be a rubber stamp” for Colombia. It was left to Bill Clinton to remind his party that President Uribe’s government was a top American ally, one that upholds the rule of law and wins free elections – by no means a given in Latin America. “We need to remember that we are friends,” Clinton urged.

If Democrats have indeed forgotten that, their amnesia is highly selective. Take the charge that Uribe is in bed with rightist paramilitary militias. Echoed even more luridly by Amnesty International and kindred groups, it has little to commend it. If anything, Uribe has proven himself as much a foe of the paramilitaries as he is of the leftist FARC. On his watch, some 31,000 militiamen have surrendered their weapons. Uribe also has presided over the extradition to the U.S. of 600 paramilitary drug-traffickers. Choosing the rule of law over relatives, he has even arrested his own cousin, former senator Mario Uribe, on charges of aiding paramilitaries. Just this May, Uribe extradited 14 prominent paramilitary leaders to the U.S. in the hopes of winning Democrats’ support.

No such luck. Frigid as ever, Democrats not only refused to approve a free-trade agreement with Columbia, as Uribe had long appealed, but they declined even to vote on it. Yet again, Columbia was snubbed.

Human-rights concerns cannot explain the Democrats’ aversion to Uribe. Were that the sole issue, Democrats would have adopted a more severe line toward neighboring states like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Where Uribe has twice triumphed in free and fair elections, including a landslide reelection victory in 2006, Chavez has crushed what remained of Venezuela’s opposition, most recently moving to end presidential term limits and crown himself president for life. Tellingly, Chavez has dodged the Democrats’ wrath.

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes, FARC leaders fully believed that Nancy Pelosi would work with Chavez to free the hostages that the guerillas had no intention of releasing. Observing Democrats’ undisguised loathing of Uribe, one can easily see the source of the FARC’s confidence. At times, Uribe’s chief flaw, at least for Democrats, seems to be that he is not a man of the Left.

But times may be changing. After last week’s rescue, Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama generously praised President Uribe, pledging to “do everything that I can to assure the success of future efforts to free the FARC’s hostages and to defeat this terrorist organization.” Obama might start by jettisoning his union-pleasing opposition to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Besides strengthening Colombia’s international stature, it would also be an economic boon for the U.S. (among other benefits, the agreement would push up American exports by $1.1. billion).

In a region increasingly shading toward economic populism and anti-Americanism, Uribe’s leadership and loyalty – he was among the few Latin American leaders to back the Iraq war – has been a rare political glimmer. For that, no less than for his spectacular successes against the FARC, he surely deserves more than the partly-line disdain of the Democratic leadership.
Vegard Martinsen
 
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Re: Columbia

Innlegg QIQrrr 21 Jun 2010, 04:52

The Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2010: Colombian voters on Sunday overwhelmingly elected Juan Manuel Santos, a former defense minister credited with hammering the country's cocaine-financed leftist insurgents, as the country's next president. As defense minister, he oversaw an agreement that gave U.S. troops access to seven Colombian military bases. Nevertheless, he faces several challenges with the U.S. Mr. Santos is likely to have a difficult time winning passage of a proposed free-trade agreement with the U.S. He will also have to lobby hard to sustain U.S. military aid to Colombia, which the U.S. is cutting back. The U.S. has provided some $7 billion in military aid during the last ten years, but Congress plans to cut 3% this year and 9% in 2011 from the initial budget request. U.S. officials say the Obama administration is retooling its aid program to Colombia to focus more on fighting poverty and inequality. Human-rights organizations and some U.S. Congressmen accuse the Colombian government of not doing enough to stop the killing of labor activists in the hands of paramilitary gunmen, which has been an obstacle to passing a free-trade agreement. Mr. Santos says he will focus on issues such as pumping Colombia's economic growth and lowering the country's high unemployment. A self-declared fan of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Santos defines himself as a pragmatist. "I am for the 'third way'," he said in a recent interview referring to Blair's policy of mixing right-wing economics with some leftist social policies - Colombia Elects Santos as President
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Re: Columbia

Innlegg QIQrrr 22 Des 2010, 05:35

CNN, December 21, 2010: This holiday season, the Colombian military is trying a unique angle to get guerrillas to lay down their arms: It is creating Christmas trees deep in the jungle in hopes the holiday spirit will tug the rebels back home. The first tree of "Operation Christmas" was decorated in the jungle of southern Colombia, the military said. Two units in two Blackhawk helicopters dropped in on a supply path that the guerrillas are known to use and picked a 25-meter tree to decorate with sparkling blue lights. A commercial made by the military shows the soldiers, dressed in camouflage uniforms and face paint, wrapping 2,000 lights around the branches and trunk. The tree was rigged with a motion sensor that will turn the lights on when someone walks by. A banner next to it says, "If Christmas can come to the jungle, you too can come home. Demobilize. At Christmas, everything is possible." Officials hope the gesture will be enough to lure rebels away from the jungle - Colombian military's new weapon against rebels: Christmas trees

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"Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted" - Franz Kafka
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Re: Columbia

Innlegg QIQrrr 31 Jul 2011, 16:11

The Miami Herald, July 29, 2011: As Colombia heads toward key elections in October, powerful new criminal gangs and left-wing guerrillas are putting their imprint on the race — by killing people. [...] So far this year, there have been 22 murders of politicians and candidates. During the last municipal elections, in 2007, some 27 candidates and political leaders were killed in the run-up to the election, according to Electoral Observer Mission, an independent watchdog group - Colombian politics remains a deadly profession
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"Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted" - Franz Kafka
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Re: Columbia

Innlegg QIQrrr 16 Jan 2012, 18:26

The Economist, January 14, 2012: The streets of Santa Marta, a city of 450,000, were nearly deserted and shops and offices were closed. But it was not a holiday that shut down a swathe of northern Colombia on January 5th and 6th. It was a criminal band called the Urabeños, who declared an “armed strike” in retaliation for the death of their leader, Juan de Dios Usuga (alias “Giovanny”), in a firefight with police on New Year’s Day. In leaflets handed out in six northern departments they declared: “We don’t want to see anyone on the streets, doing any work.” That was enough to shut down transport, commerce and even government offices - Criminals with attitude: A crime mob takes on the government
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"Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted" - Franz Kafka
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Re: Colombia

Innlegg QIQrrr 29 Aug 2012, 08:51

InfoSurHoy.com, August 28, 2012: Though the intensity of Colombia’s long-running civil conflict has diminished over the past decade, a new study outlines one particularly devastating trend: Marxist guerrillas and drug trafficking gangs are increasingly recruiting children by force - Study: Children comprise nearly half of Colombia’s guerrillas
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"Atlas was permitted the opinion that he was at liberty, if he wished, to drop the Earth and creep away; but this opinion was all that he was permitted" - Franz Kafka
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