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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:29 AM
Original message
Colombians debate third term for president
Source: CNN

updated 6:18 p.m. EST, Thu December 4, 2008
Colombians debate third term for president

From Claudia Palacios
CNN

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombian President Alvaro Uribe enjoys one of the highest popularity ratings of any leader in South America, so much that his supporters are pushing for a third presidential term for him.

But the constitution would have to be changed to allow that, and recent global issues have even some supporters questioning whether Uribe should be allowed to seek that extra time in office.

"When the president was first re-elected in 2006, the economy was thriving, and the president benefited from its success," said Carlos Lemoine, a political consultant. "Now, the economy is in a very different situation."

Five million Colombians might disagree. They have signed petitions asking for a constitutional referendum that would grant Uribe the chance to run again. That could happen in 2010 or, if he sat out a term, in 2014.

~snip~
"We now have a situation where ruling parties want to stay in power, but for different reasons. In the case of Colombia and Uribe, it is law and order. For Chavez in Venezuela, it is extending his vision, getting more time to institutionalize that vision," Birns said.



Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/12/04/colombia.p...
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StClone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:47 AM
Response to Original message
1. Anti-Chavez People Please Comment
You should have plenty to say to the Colombians.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. This thread is too funny. n/t
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Warren Stupidity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:28 AM
Response to Original message
2. So Uribe is a DICK-TATER, right?
You know who you are. Please chime in with your faux outrage.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
3. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:27 AM
Response to Original message
4. PRESIDENT FOR LIFE!1111
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Anarcho-Socialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
6. Nothing from Washington DC about how "undemocratic" this is?
Funny that.
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Mudoria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
7. Two terms is enough for any leader...
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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #7
16. Agree, but now the anti-Chavez folks can shout "hypocrisy" at the pro-Chavez, and
the pro-Chavez can shout the same thing at the anti-Chavez folks. Oddly, you rarely see a post for either side that acknowledges the appearance (while I'm sure denying the reality) of any hypocrisy on their own side. ;)
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ronnie624 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #16
31. Your logic is flawed.
Generally, "pro-Chavez" posters do not criticize attempts to eliminate term limits in Colombia, only the blatant corruption and criminal connections of the Uribe government. Your claim that Chavez supporters are hypocritical on this issue is false.
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bitchkitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 02:40 PM
Response to Original message
8. No comments from the stop Hugo brigade?
OK, have it your way and stay away. We wouldn't want your tiny little heads to explode. But don't ever post in another Chavez thread with your stupid-ass one liners or your Associated Propaganda links. Your true colors are shining through and they are the slimy hue of shit.

Here's a thought - stop waiting on the talking points for this and speak up on your own merit, use your own brains.

Your silence speaks VOLUMES.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
9. Human Rights Watch Confirms Colombia Not Ready for Trade Deal with U.S.
Human Rights Watch Confirms Colombia Not Ready for Trade Deal with U.S.
by James Parks, Dec 5, 2008

Despite the Bush administrations repeated attempts to push through Congress a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) this year, the reality is that Colombia has not stemmed the violence against trade unionists or brought those responsible to justice.

In short, Colombia has a long way to go before a free trade pact should be considered.

The head of Human Rights Watch recently wrote three top House leaders urging them to remain steadfast in insisting that Colombia clean up its act before approving any new trade deal. In the letter, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth says:
Free trade should be premised on fundamental respect for human rights, especially the rights of the workers producing the goods to be traded. In Colombia, workers cannot exercise their rights without fear of being threatened or killed.

Without concrete and sustained results in addressing this basic problem, ongoing anti-union violence and impunity would, as President-elect Barack Obama has noted, make a mockery of labor protections in the agreement. We believe that Colombia should be in compliance with such protections before the accord takes effect, as has generally been demanded with FTA commercial provisions.
More:
http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/12/05/human-rights-watch-co...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. People need to remember what others have pointed out: Uribe's 2nd term
was NOT given up to the people of Colombia in a vote, as it was in Venezuela, but rather was arranged through BRIBERY in the Senate, as testified in court by one of the Senators who was bribed.

Can't leave anything to chance when you're a right-winger.
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. he won the election didn't he? it was most certainly up to the people of Colombia
lets compare to the Chavez situation, Venezuela voters already rejected repetitive terms last December yet for some reason another vote is being scheduled. Now, if Colombian voters reject a Constitutional change like they did in Venezuela then Uribe shouldn't be able to run.
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tkmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Actually, they rejected a PACKAGE of things
Of which the ability for Chavez to run again was only one. If that issue had been put before the voters alone who is to say how it would have turned out?

I am sorry, but I don't see how anyone can support Uribe's move while criticizing Chavez for his. It almost defines hypocrisy. If anything my concern would be that any election held to change Colombia's constitution must be monitored quite closely to ensure it is an accurate reflection of the will of the people. Venezuela's certainly was, but Colombia's record when it comes to elections is a tad spotty.
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. they still said no despite all the sweeteners in the package
Edited on Fri Dec-05-08 05:31 PM by Bacchus39
and by the way, I do not personally believe he should run again.

regarding elections, Colombia is latin america's oldest democracy for what its worth.
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tkmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. Being older doesn't make them superior
Having said that however, if Colombian citizens genuinely want to allow Uribe to run again I am fine with that. I feel a bit arrogant even offering an opinion on the matter; it is not mine to decide, not being Colombian. I personally do not like Uribe even a little bit and am highly suspicious of any reported "popularity" he enjoys there. In the end though it is the will of the people of Colombia, and Venezuela, that matters. All we can hope to do is to help ensure that their voices are heard through free, fair, and open elections.
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. right, and I didn't infer that but they certainly have a tradition of elections
yes, while I think it would be better if he didn't run, I also have no say in the matter.

my point was simply in Ven, it would seem to have been been decided already as of last December. I certainly wouldn't support Uribe if he did what Chavez is attempting.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #18
24. Uribe is a butcher in a nice business suit.
There are plenty of non-arrogant reasons to want him out of power.

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #14
29. Equal rights for women and gays was a "sweetener"?
It's very likely that it was equal rights that killed the whole package, given that Venezuela is a Catholic country with a particularly rightwing clergy. The rightwing ran ads (possibly funded by the USAID or other Bushwhack budgets) which said that, if the amendments passed, children would be taken from their mothers. It was a very close vote--the amendments lost by 50.7% to 49.2%--yet Chavez's personal popularity remained high throughout, and is still high (currently over 60%). The package--proposed by the Chavez government and the National Assembly--contained 69 amendments, on many issues--including equal rights for women and gays, pensions for informal workers (street vendors), more executive control of the central bank (might have been useful, right now, given the Bushwhacks' recent Financial 9/11), universal free college education, a slight shortening of the work week, and the presidential term limit. There was evidence of voter confusion. It appears that 10% of Chavez's normal support abstained from voting. But it is by no means clear that people were voting primarily on lifting the term limit on the president. It is much more likely that the 10% who abstained were either confused, or influenced by the Catholic clergy.

On any criteria you could name, Venezuela has a far, far better government than Colombia. On democracy issues, they are like night and day. And Venezuela beats us here in the U.S. all to hell and back, on transparent vote counting and government encouragement of maximum citizen participation. Venezuela has a better democracy than we do! The U.S. is "the oldest democracy" in the world. What does that mean? Nothing. Is it a democracy today? Arguably, democracy here ended in October 2002 with the passage of the "Help America Vote (for Bush) Act," appropriating a $3.9 billion e-voting boondoggle, to spread 100% non-transparent voting systems, run on 'TRADE SECRET' code, owned and controlled by rightwing Bushite corporations, all over the country. Or perhaps it was lost earlier, with the Supreme Court crowning Bush as emperor in 2000, after an election that it has been proven that he lost.

Hugo Chavez, on the other hand, has won four straight elections (a 2-year mini-term prior to the present Constitution, the US-funded recall election, and two regular elections), with ever-increasing margins of the vote (the last, by 63%, in 2006), in an election system which has been heavily monitored, and found free and fair, by dozens of international election monitoring groups, and the fundamentals of which are free and fair for anyone to see. They use electronic voting, but is an OPEN SOURCE CODE system--anyone may review the code by which the votes are tabulated--and they do a whopping 55% audit, to check for machine fraud. Here, half the voting systems in our country do NO AUDIT AT ALL, because there is nothing TO audit--no paper trail whatsoever--in these private, corporate systems.

In Colombia, they're still using Hitler-like methods for stealing elections ("brownshirts" beating up voters and stuffing ballot boxes, Germany 1930s; rightwing death squads murdering thousands of union leaders and other leftists, Colombia, current decade, on-going). Here, they have Diebold & brethren--invisible "brownshirts." And guess who has been allied with whom? US Bushwhackos (and collusive Democrats) and the thugs running Colombia are natural allies. Neither of them is pro-democracy. Both are highly repressive and highly corrupt and serve the interests of the rich and of global corporate predators.

We may be the "oldest democracy," but our Constitution and Bill of Rights have been shredded, and our military has been hijacked for a corporate resource war. We stand at the very cliff of descent into nazism, bravely hoping that our "good emperor" will pull us back from that cliff. Colombia may be the "oldest democracy" in Latin America, but it is barely recognizable as a democracy today. Illusions of democracy, fostered by corpo/fascist 'news' monopolies, in the interest of global corporate predators, do not count. What is real, in Colombia? The real threat of death, if you dare to speak out. What is real here? A trillion dollar bailout for the super-rich, and--thus far--NOTHING for the people. Our coffers drained, unto the 7th generation. And tens of thousands of our soldiers suffering severe injuries--or death--for Exxon Mobil. Not to mention the deaths of a million innocent people in Iraq on our collective conscience. And the torture of thousands.

Yup, the Colombia elite and our elite have a lot in common. And democracy is in extreme peril of being snuffed out in both places.

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. About 24% of Colombians voted for Uribe in 2006. Of course, many more Colombians might have voted
if hundreds of rural polling places hadn't been relocated at the last minute to urban locations. Moreover, typical political violence continued throughout the spring before the elections, limiting voter access to information and reducing candidates ability to campaign, though "in contrast to previous elections .. different candidates <were able> to carry out some public activities." Since "design of the polling stations did not entirely guarantee secret voting," the continuing threat of political violence might have reduced the interest of Uribe's opponents in voting, given his death-squad connections. Nor were opposition party observers allowed at the polls during the voting period


... The Alternative Democratic Pole party, or PDA, said authorities arbitrarily ordered the transfer of at least 200 polling stations from rural areas to urban centers, arguing the move could affect hundreds of thousands of voters ...
Colombia's president denies claims of election irregularities
By Joshua Goodman
ASSOCIATED PRESS
2:45 a.m. May 27, 2006
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20060527-0245-...

Death threats and attacks against journalists, candidates and public officials are undermining the rule of law in Colombia and could raise doubts about the fairness of the elections, said Amnesty International (AI) in a new report published today. The report reveals how journalists, political candidates and voters are under particular threat in the run up to the Congressional elections -- scheduled for 12 March -- and the Presidential elections -- scheduled for 28 May. Across Colombia, journalists have been killed or threatened to stop them from exposing human rights abuses committed by all the parties to the conflict. Candidates and elected officials have been forced to resign or have been killed as punishment for challenging the authority of the guerrillas or paramilitaries. Members of the security forces and government officials have sought to stigmatize some journalists by associating them with the guerrilla, thus placing them at risk of attack by paramilitary forces ...
AI Index: AMR 23/002/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 026
9 February 2006
Embargo Date: 9 February 2006 00:01 GMT
Colombia: Attacks on freedom of expression threaten elections
http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGAMR...

... Santiago Murray .. headed the OAS mission that monitored Colombia’s May 28 elections ... This was the first time that Colombia had reelected a leader for a second consecutive term ... “While it is known that Colombia is undergoing a difficult situation in terms of public order, which includes assassinations, intimidation and kidnappings by groups operating outside the law, this electoral process demonstrated improved conditions for campaigning, which in contrast to previous elections, allowed the different candidates to carry out some public activities,” states the report Murray presented ...
OAS RECEIVES REPORTS ON ELECTIONS IN COLOMBIA, PERU AND DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
July 12, 2006
http://www.oas.org/OASpage/press_releases/press_release...

Hernan Durango is a Colombian journalist for the progressive Venezuelan daily newspaper Diario Vea, who was forced to flee his homeland eight months ago due to death threats from right-wing forces. In Colombia he was a leader of the Central Unity of Workers (CUT) ... He spoke to Green Left Weekly in mid-June about the May 28 presidential election in Colombia ... Durango, however, described the election as a “huge fraud”, noting that “out of a total population of 44 million, 26 million Colombians were eligible to vote, but only 12 million did” ... The rigged character of the election, he said, was indicated by the fact that “independent election scrutineers were excluded”. Durango pointed out that hundreds of teachers who had volunteered as scrutineers were excluded from local, vote-counting committees. Polling booths “were removed from areas where the Carlos Gaviria had a lot of influence. Also, 200 polling booths were moved from rural areas where the peasants live to central city areas, which the peasants had difficulty reaching ...
COLOMBIA: Presidential election result a 'huge fraud'
Coral Wynter & Jim McIlroy, Caracas
From Green Left Weekly, July 5, 2006
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2006/674/6293

... The members who were in Bogot observed that the design of the polling stations did not entirely guarantee secret voting ... Finally, the delegation noted that there were no witnesses from the parties during the
majority of the day ...
Report by the European Parliament Delegation to Observe the Elections in Colombia 2006
This is the Report of the European Parliament Delegation to Observe the Elections in Colombia on the 28th of May 2006
http://aceproject.org/regions-en/jne/CO/reports/report-...
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:45 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. the OAS report and European report are positive AND were made AFTER the election
European Parliament press release from your link

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTS
DELEGATION OF OBSERVERS ON THE ELECTIONS IN
COLOMBIA ON 28 MAY 2006
The European Parliament, an institution that represents more than 455 million citizens
in the 25 European Union Member States, wished to be present at these elections:
1. firstly, in order to demonstrate its solidarity with the Colombian people who, in
difficult circumstances, have renounced violence, and have used their vote to
show their support for democratic principles;
2. secondly, to congratulate it for the example of maturity and civic courage that it
has set today, in that the peaceful will of the people showed respect for political
pluralism and for differences of opinion between the various candidates;
3. to congratulate the candidate and President-elect Doctor lvaro Uribe Vlez, who
has obtained the trust and support of the majority of his fellow citizens. We wish
him success on his future path and on the road to peace that Colombia needs;
4. to express its recognition of all of the democratic political forces that have
contributed to these elections for respecting the rules, and of the legitimate
authorities in the country for their organisation;
5. to call once again for the illegal armed groups to order an immediate end to
hostilities, to release all kidnapped persons and to show their will to achieve peace
in the country.
6. The European Parliament hopes that the President-elect, with the support of
Colombians, will be able to achieve peace and reconciliation as quickly as
possible. In this context, and on the basis of our common values, he will be able to
count on the firm support of the European Union in general and the European
Parliament in particular, especially in the progress of the negotiations to achieve
an Association Agreement between the Andean Community (CAN) and the EU.
Bogot, D.C. 28 May 2006

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #17
20. I quoted directly from one report and directly from the author of the second.
Edited on Fri Dec-05-08 05:59 PM by struggle4progress
The European report notes that opposition observers were not at the polls during the voting period; I provided a second link pointing out that they were not allowed at the polls during the voting period. I also directly quoted from the European report, the fact that voting was not secret. You are free to make of that what you choose; in the context of a country that has a genuine problem with death squads associated with the political establishment, the natural conclusion of a political opponent might be that an observed anti-government vote was potentially suicidal

The OAS author makes the comment I quote against the historical background, that in 2002 (for example) essentially no opposition campaigning was possible; that "some" was possible in 2006 is (in some sense) an improvement, though whether it represents enough of an improvement, that one should jump up and down cheering about it, is a rather different question

By nature, reports such as these are intended to encourage improvements; what they actually mean, must be judged from context

The turn-out in 2006 was low. I cited evidence that government acted to suppress the rural vote. Uribe may well have support among well-to-do city-dwellers; his support among the large population of displaced rural poor is a different question, not really answered by the election
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. I think his support is fairly broad based despite voter apathy
Edited on Fri Dec-05-08 06:04 PM by Bacchus39
I don't believe there is a great class divide, and Colombia's cities certainly are not limited to the well-to-do. Bogota alone has more than 8 million.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Colombia's indigenous protest against Uribe (October 2008)
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Bacchus39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. who is loved universally?
I don't recall ever hearing that.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #23
25. You especially won't hear it from people whose family members have been disappeared
falsely imprisoned or murdered and left in ditches.
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bitchkitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 07:28 AM
Response to Reply #21
27. Interesting -
you slam Chavez in many threads, but Uribe, who is a known butcher and criminal, you defend.

I don't think you like the left, Bacchus39.

But at least you showed up in this thread. We can't say the same for certain other members.

Wonder if this post gets deleted too?
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 05:02 PM
Response to Original message
12. Good God, Uribe is a bloody butcher. They don't need any more of him.
Not that I'm a fan of the FARC, all sides are guilty of horrible crimes
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 06:49 AM
Response to Original message
26. No country where over 40 union leaders have been murdered this year alone,
by rightwing death squads with close ties to the government and the military, can be said to have free and fair elections. Amnesty International attributes 92% of the murders of union leaders in Colombia to the Colombian military (about half) and its closely tied rightwing death squads (the other half). (Only 2% to the FARC.) Chiquita International paid $1.7 million to these rightwing death squads to murder some 4,000 union leaders over a seven year period. And that's just the union leaders. Other targets have been political leftists, human rights workers, small peasant farmers, journalists and anyone who raises their head in opposition, and youths recruited for jobs, killed and dressed up like guerrilla fighters, to up the Colombian military's "body count," to impress their mass murdering pals in the White House.

Even without the evidence of repression and intimidation at the polls, these conditions create FEAR. They mean that anti-Uribe citizens are less likely to express their true opinion in polls and are less likely to vote, let alone for who they really want. Expressing the wrong opinion can get you or your family members killed.

It's kind of like slaughtering a hundred thousand of people with "shock and awe" bombing, creating a chaotic, horror-filled society, and setting up a puppet local government to sign over their oil rights to your multinational oil cronies. The people of Colombia are hostage to a government that is propped up with $6 BILLION in US taxpayer military aid, and an out of control military that routinely whacks uppity union leaders, peasants and others. How can elections run by such a government be called fair?

We simply cannot trust polls or votes in Colombia. Personally, I think the UN or USASUR (the new South American Common Market that just intervened to stop the US-supported civil war in Bolivia) should be running elections in Colombia. I think intervention is needed. The Colombian military and its deaths squads, and the cocaine and weapons trade out of Colombia, are a threat to the whole continent--as evidenced by the US/Colombian bombing/raid on Ecuador earlier this year, the constant spillover of the Colombian civil war into Venezuela and Ecuador, and the evidence of Colombian death squads operating in democratic countries. Anyone who thinks that our Bushwhacks gave $6 BILLION in military aid to Colombia because of their concern about the cocaine trade is a fool. They were creating a launching pad, complete with paramilitary forces, for destabilization and instigated civil wars in the rest of the continent, which has gone overwhelmingly leftist in democratic systems. So Colombia's problems are everybody's problems--including ours. We're paying these narco-fascists to oppress their own people, and to collude with the Bushwhacks and multinational corporations to overturn democracy in South America. We further pay with the criminal cocaine trade here--in ruined lives, in gangs and organized crime, and in the "prison-industrial complex." We further pay in Mexico, with all of the problems they are having there, precisely because the US "war on drugs" is a complete failure in Colombia, and has created a monster in Colombia--its narco-fascist government, which is no more interested in curbing the cocaine trade than the Bushwhacks are.

Elections in Colombia? Give me a break. The fundamental conditions for free and fair elections simply do not exist there. Polls and votes tell us only what the rich elite and the upper middle class think of Uribe. It's kind of like how elections in the our segregated south used to be. 'Yeah, you can vote, slave--if you dare!' If a large part of the citizenry fears death for expressing their views--because many of them have been killed, beaten up, tortured by the ruling elite--it is not a fair election.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 07:34 AM
Response to Reply #26
28. Your post reminds me directly of material I have read concerning the presence of paramilitaries at
the polls, and I've even read they have been seen going into the voting booths with voters.

Here's one good relative article I was able to locate in a split-second after reading your post:
COLOMBIA: "Mark Him on the Ballot - The One Wearing Glasses"
By Constanza Vieira

Credit:Procuradura General

BOGOTA, May 8 (IPS) - "With Uribe, we thought: this is the guy who is going to change the country," the 41-year-old fisherwoman told IPS.

That is why her fishing and farming village of 800 people in the central Colombian region of Magdalena Medio decided overwhelmingly to vote for current President lvaro Uribe in the 2002 presidential elections, when he first ran.

The woman agreed to talk to IPS on the condition that she be asked neither her name (we will call her "L.") nor the name of her village.

The main city in the fertile region of Magdalena Medio is Barrancabermeja, an oil port on the Magdalena River, which runs across Colombia from south to north before emptying into the Caribbean Sea.

What convinced the villagers to vote for Uribe? "Because the region where we live is poor, very poor, its so difficult to find work, and when I heard him say I am going to work for the poor, I am going to help them, I thought this is a good president."

When the rightwing presidents first four-year term came to an end in 2006, most of the villagers decided again to vote for him, reasoning that he just needed more time to reduce poverty.

The odd thing was that in both the 2002 and 2006 elections, despite the fact that the villagers had already decided to vote for Uribe, the far-right paramilitaries, who had committed a number of murders since 1998, when they appeared in the region that was previously dominated by the leftwing guerrillas, pressured the local residents to vote for Uribe anyway.

The paramilitaries did not kill people to pressure the rest to vote for Uribe, as they did in other communities, but merely used "threats," said L.

"If you don't vote for Uribe, you know what the consequences will be," the villagers were told ominously.

And on election day, they breathed down voters necks: "This is the candidate youre going to vote for. Youre going to put your mark by this one. The one wearing glasses," they would say, pointing to Uribes photo on the ballot, L. recalled.
More:
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42290
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-06-08 08:00 AM
Response to Original message
30. Just found a great article serious DU'ers may find helpful:
Colombia: who are the enemies of peace and democracy?
Jenny Pearce

The Colombian government of lvaro Uribe is making strenuous efforts to identify the Farc guerrilla movement as the chief threat to the country's security and progress. But Colombia's evisceration by paramilitarism and political manipulation represents a deeper danger, argues Jenny Pearce.
9 - 04 - 2008

~snip~
However, the Farc is not the only enemy of peace and democracy. Since around October 2007, lvaro Uribe has been enormously successful in directing the country's attention exclusively upon the insurgent threat. The focused, resolute and obsessed president has persuaded the vast majority of Colombia's population to suspend judgment on his stance in relation to the country's conflicts, and the deeper role of his political circle and the paramilitary forces they have forged deals with.

The inside pages of Colombia's national and regional newspapers offer the skeleton of a narrative of revelations about paramilitary atrocities. On 4 March, for instance - the very week of the tensions on the borders with Ecuador and Venezuela - this item appeared in El Tiempo:

"An ex-Colombian paramilitary chief killed several of his victims with poisonous snakes in order to evade responsibility for these crimes, according to a confession to the public prosecutor revealed this Tuesday by the local press. Jose Gregorio Mangones, alias Carlos Tijeras', admitted that he ordered that practice in order to avoid that the attacks of his extreme rightwing group overtake the three killings which would turn them into massacres, according to the definition established in international humanitarian law. ....the aim was that they shouldn't hold us responsible for so many, so we used snakes, and these deaths count as accidents of nature'...Mangones took responsibility for 400 murders, which were added to another 320 admitted in a previous hearing. These people were murdered under accusation of cooperating or sympathising with the left guerrillas."

~snip~
Another miniscule column in El Tiempo on 10 March - the momentous week of the killing of Ral Reyes - announced a further indictment of nine politicians for their connections with the paramilitary. They include ex-governors, ex-mayors, ex-congressmen - most of them (like the president himself) cattle- ranchers. By November 2007, the office of Colombia's attorney-general was reviewing 100 cases of alleged collusion between paramilitaries, state officials, the judicial administration and the security forces. The list of those arrested includes Jorge Noguera, lvaro Uribe's former campaign manager in Magdalena, and national-intelligence director from 2002-05 (even the US has revoked Noguera's visa due to the seriousness of the charges against him).

The idea that Uribe himself knew nothing of what was going on defies belief; but it is a suspension of belief amongst the population - and, scandalously, amongst international allies and some commentators - which has enabled Uribe to convince the country that the threat to peace and democracy comes uniquely from the Farc.

The only purpose

President Uribe is a threat to democracy because he does not really believe in it, and a threat to peace because he has no interest in it. Uribe believes in his direct relationship with the people, and in an efficient state machine to deliver the decisions he makes on behalf of the wealthy interests he protects. He is not interested in autonomous social organisations; labour, civil and human rights; or scrutiny by citizens, the lifeblood of an accountable and meaningful modern democracy. More:
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/po...
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