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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 04:14 AM
Original message
Human rights issue to shadow Harper in Colombia
Source: Canadian Press

Human rights issue to shadow Harper in Colombia
Updated Sun. Jul. 15 2007 10:52 PM ET

Canadian Press

BOGOTA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be under pressure to make human rights a key talking point in his meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday, although both men will be eager to avoid controversy as they seek to become the newest amigos in the hemisphere.

The Canadian prime minister arrived in Bogota as the sun was setting behind the hills surrounding the capital Sunday, without a word to reporters who accompanied him on the six-hour flight.

But even before his six-day tour of South America and the Caribbean -- which includes stops in Colombia, Chile, Barbados and Haiti -- began, human rights groups in Canada and in the region began their campaign to derail the main agenda between the two leaders, who have agreed to begin negotiating a free trade deal in six months.

''We had the prime minister speak out before about human rights in China and Russia, so he must show in this trip that he is universally concerned about human rights, not just when there is a political convenience,'' said Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada in anticipation of the trip.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 04:16 AM
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1. Human rights issues to follow Harper to Colombia
Human rights issues to follow Harper to Colombia
Richard Foot, CanWest News Service
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2007

BOGOTA -- When Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets the president of Colombia Monday at the start of a five-day visit to Latin America, the memory of a murdered Colombian aboriginal leader could cast an uncomfortable shadow over their talks.

The tone of their meeting depends largely on whether Harper raises human rights concerns with President Alvaro Uribe -- as he did in recent meetings with the leaders of China and Russia -- or whether he avoids them on this continent, where he is vowing to "re-engage relationships throughout the Americas."

Kimy Pernia Domico, a former leader of Colombia's Embera Katio Indians, left an indelible mark in Canada in 1999 when he testified in Parliament about the impact of a hydro-electric development in the forested river valley where his people live.

The $1-billion Urra Dam had been funded in part by the Canadian government, whose Crown corporation, Export Development Canada, had provided $27-million in credits toward its construction.

Domico claimed his people hadn't been consulted about the dam or compensated for its impact. He also said the flooding had destroyed fish stocks that were an essential source of Embera Katio food.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 04:19 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Pointing a finger at corruption
Pointing a finger at corruption
Former Colombian paramilitary describes high-level wrongdoing from haven in Canada

Jul 16, 2007 04:30 AM
Allan Woods
Ottawa Bureau

BOGOTAJairo Castillo Peralta should be a dead man, either from his former exploits as a paramilitary or his current role as a prolific snitch who has rocked Colombia's government, sending no less than eight corrupt lawmakers to prison.

Instead, the 39-year-old continues to work with investigators from the safety of his home near Quebec City to detail the shady links between politicians, wealthy landowners and the hired guns who have carried out their will over the years, often with deadly efficiency.

"I was a farmer and was forced to join the paramilitary group. I was with them, but under pressure," he said in a telephone interview translated by his wife, Clara. "It was to save my life and the lives of my family also."

It was in 1995 that the 27-year-old farmer was coerced into joining the local paramilitary group in his hometown of Antioquia, in the northern province of Cordoba. He was a chauffeur and a bodyguard and a liaison with government military forces in the area.

He claims not to have engaged in violence and never to have killed anyone, but he was witness to high-level meetings that, almost a decade later, would come back to haunt Colombia's right-wing leader, President Alvaro Uribe. Among the lawmakers caught in the former foot soldier's net is the president's cousin, Senator Mario Uribe, who allegedly attended two 1998 meetings with the paramilitary, both attended by Castillo.

"The president's cousin asked them to kill the farm owners so that he would have land and all the power. It's that that he was looking for, power," he said.

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 08:35 AM
Response to Original message
3. needs a good kickin'
FWIW, I have a few distinctly Canadian heroes: Justice Louise Arbour, Gen. Romo Dallaire, Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, and Alex Neve.

Thanks for this post, Judi Lynn.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Thanks for your list, GliderGuider!
I think you can tell we aren't wildly well-informed about anyone in other countries, thanks to our fast-moving pack of wild dogs style of corporate journalism.

Now you've planted the information, I hope to find out more about them. They are all committed, involved, focused people who have done so much for the world of people already.

Glad you took the time to point them out.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 12:32 PM
Response to Original message
4. Harper announces start of free-trade talks with Colombia and Peru
Harper announces start of free-trade talks with Colombia and Peru
at 12:42 on July 16, 2007, EST.

BOGOTA, Colombia (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Colombian President Avaro Uribe have announced the start of tri-lateral talks on a free-trade agreement involving the two countries and Peru.

Harper said the free-trade negotiations were to begin in Lima on Tuesday. As well, Harper said Canada and Colombia will negotiate a deal to eliminate double taxation.

Harper is travelling in Latin America this week to promote trade and investment in the region.


Harper Starts Talks With Uribe on Canada-Colombia Trade Accord

By Theophilos Argitis and Helen Murphy

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked off a five-day tour of Latin American and Caribbean countries today by starting free trade talks with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The two sides also will begin talks on an agreement to eliminate double taxation, Harper said today during a joint press conference with Uribe in Bogota.

``Colombia is a country that has made tremendous progress on shared values,'' Harper told reporters. ``We want to encourage them on those efforts.''

Harper has said he's seeking to ``re-engage'' Canada in the region, in part to help strengthen trade and investment links. Canadian companies have been looking to reduce their dependence on the U.S. economy as a surging currency makes their products less competitive in that market. Peru will also participate in Colombia's free-trade talks with Canada, Uribe said today.

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