Colombian Servility Toward Washington Must Be Ended

Colombian-Spanish journalist Salud Hernández-Mora, speaking from the heart and soul on the editorial page of El Tiempo, the last remaining nationally circulated newspaper in Colombia, has published a stirring article “The Worn Out Kneepads,” where she wrote that, “it’s now time to take up a national collection for the purpose of buying new kneepads for Colombia. The old ones are worn out from genuflecting before the whims of Washington. We also need to inject a dose of dignity into our nation, which seems incapable of defending its citizens from the intolerable abuses that the intelligence and investigative agencies of the United States commit.”

“Their bankers, customers, employers and even neighbors concluded that these people were dangerous mafiosos, better to be avoided, after learning that some Colombians and their businesses have been put on the “Clinton list” [a watch-list maintained by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control]. She adds that she doesn’t know who the accused are, but that she’s convinced that they were placed on the list with the placid agreement of the Colombian government.

“Our authorities shouldn’t permit a foreign entity – the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control – which is supposed to be an angel of justice fighting the laundering of the planet’s financial assets – to bring people to ruin or put at risk hundreds of Colombian jobs without allowing those implicated even a minimal defense.”

[Editor’s Note: The Office of Foreign Assets Control administers and enforces what Colombians call the ‘Clinton list,’ which are economic sanctions programs primarily against countries and groups of individuals, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers].

But President Uribe’s support for Bush’s war against Iraq is the clearest representation of his servitude toward the current U.S. administration.

It is this servility – after the ardent and eloquent accusations mounted by Senator Gustavo Petro of the Alternative Democratic Pole against President Uribe’s complicity with [right-wing] paramilitaries while he was Governor of Antioquia Province – that has had such a devastating impact. Afterwards, President Uribe immediately flew to Washington with a government delegation to respond to Senator Petro, and in the process offend former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who refused to participate with Uribe in a forum, as a protest of the Uribe government’s human rights recored .

[Editor’s Note: During a debate on the floor of the Colombian Senate on April 17, Senator Gustavo Petro alleged that paramilitary death squads met at the ranch of President Uribe in the late 1980s and plotted to murder their opponents. These accusations were mentioned indirectly by Vice President Gore as the reason for canceling his participation with Uribe in an environmental forum sponsored by the magazine Revista Poder.].

The entrepreneurial class and right-wingers in Colombia unanimously declared themselves, following the dictates of President Uribe’s government, against Senator Petro and former Vice-president Gore. The pages of all the regional newspapers and the only national one – “El Tiempo” – were filled with paid announcements repudiating the accusations of Senator Petro and Vice-president’s Gore strong reaction. Nevertheless, the debate initiated by Senator Petro has begun, even if the official TV station in Sincelejo, capital of Sucre Province, was mysteriously closed for repairs by its management just as the Senate debate initiated by Senator Petro was going on.

These accusations are firm and the country has endorsed them. Petro said, literally, “It was Uribe who authorized the creation of Convivir [rural defense co-operatives ], which were tied to Salvatore Mancuso , Enilse López La Gata [The Cat ], Monoleche [Milkwhite ] and other well-known paramilitaries.”

In the meantime, Bush, who invaded Iraq and applied there politics of assassination on an unprecedented scale, supported, with a tacit approval of President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, the liberation of Luis Posada Carriles, an assassin who masterminded the 1976 terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died . This terrorist has been set free thanks to President Bush’s influence, an act that was met with the deafening silence of President Uribe.

[Editor’s Note: The issue of paramilitaries is an explosive one in Colombia. These groups were originally formed by rich landowners to counter the left-wing guerillas that have taken over almost half the country, and which fund themselves by drug-trafficking. Recently, President Uribe and members of his government have been accused of being “in bed” with these right-wing paramilitaries, which according to some accounts, are even more violent than the left-wing guerillas they were created to defeat].

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