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Zorro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:19 PM
Original message
Colombia, Venezuela form $200m fund to boost trade
Source: AP

BOGOTA, Colombia The presidents of Colombia and Venezuela pledged Saturday to invest $100 million each in a special fund in hopes of boosting cross-border trade as the world economic crisis slashes global demand for their exports.

The cash will help create small businesses and should finance infrastructure projects along the border, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said after four hours of talks in the Caribbean port of Cartagena with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe.

"Nobody knows where this crisis might go," Chavez told a televised news conference.

Trade between the two nations reached a record $7.2 billion in 2008, and Chavez said they should aim for $10 billion a year in 2009 and 2010. Both neighbors are looking to prevent the global slowdown from crimping commerce and spurring unemployment.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
1. Stiff sentence in Colombian journalist's murder
Stiff sentence in Colombian journalist's murder

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) A Colombian judge has sentenced a former mayor to 28 years in prison for ordering the April 2003 killing of a journalist who had repeatedly denounced the politician as corrupt.

It was the first time the mastermind of a journalist's killing in Colombia had been convicted and imprisoned since 1992, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Julio Cesar Ardila was among three men convicted in the murder of Jose Emeterio Rivas of the local radio station "Calor Estereo," who was shot to death in the steamy refinery city of Barrancabermeja on Colombia's main river, the Magdalena.

The sentence, handed down by judge Nelly Vallejo in the regional capital of Bucaramanga on Jan. 13, only came to light Thursday after the InterAmerican Press Association's president, Enrique Santos, publicized it.

Santos, co-publisher of Bogota's El Tiempo newspaper, noted how rare it is in Colombia for the mastermind of a journalist's killing to be brought to justice.

In the past 15 years, 57 journalists have been killed in Colombia while exercising their profession, according to the IAPA, with more than 70 percent of those killings going unpunished. Colombia has the highest rate of unsolved murders per capita in the Americas, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.

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Zorro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 10:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Why the pathetic attempt to take the OP thread off-topic?
Chavez and Uribe have found common ground, which is notable.
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:28 PM
Response to Original message
3. Attacks on the Press in 2008: Colombia
Attacks on the Press in 2008: Colombia

Deadly violence in Colombia eased for the second consecutive year as no journalists were killed in direct relation to their work. Colombian authorities cited increased security throughout the country as the cause for the recent decline in news media deaths, but journalists said widespread self-censorship had made the press less of a target. Even so, intimidation and threats remained a serious problem. Repeated death threats against four provincial journalists forced them to flee their homes. Prominent journalists in the capital denounced government harassment that followed their criticism of the administration of President lvaro Uribe Vlez.

A series of political scandals that shook the government and a successful hostage-rescue mission by the military received widespread press scrutiny, but also polarized the media. Colombias war against its most prominent leftist guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known by its Spanish acronym, FARC), remained at the heart of the political debate, and the mainstream media remained supportive of the administrations policies. Still, the government showed intolerance toward criticism, the press said, as a small number of outlets and journalists were singled out by officials and threatened with legal action.

Uribe called in August for a criminal investigation of Daniel Coronell, one of the governments harshest critics. On April 20, Coronell, news director of Canal Uno television and columnist for the weekly newsmagazine Semana, aired a 2004 videotaped interview with former Congresswoman Yidis Medina that ignited nationwide controversy. In the interview, Medina alleged that high-ranking officials had offered her bribes in exchange for her vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that allowed Uribe to seek re-election in 2006 for a second four-year term. The disclosure fueled judicial and congressional investigations of several government officials, including the president. A special congressional committee called Uribe to testify in August. During the hearing, Uribe urged an investigation of Coronell, claiming the journalist had broken the law by not immediately disclosing a crime. CPJ said Uribe was motivated by Coronells critical coverage of his administration and asked that authorities dismiss the request. No investigation of Coronell had been launched by late year.

Coronell spent two years in exile after death threats were made against him and his family in 2005. An inquiry by local authorities showed that intimidating messages had been sent from the computer of former Congressman Carlos Nder Simmonds, a close friend of Uribe who has yet to be charged. Coronell and his family have permanent police protection.

In Bogot, several critical journalists were not invited to news conferences and had little access to official sources, said Gonzalo Guilln, correspondent for the Miami-based daily El Nuevo Herald. Guilln fled the country for a few weeks in 2007 after receiving death threats that followed public accusations by Uribe. Legal action was also used against Bogot-based news media. Sociologist and journalist Alfredo Molano wrote about an influential political family in a February column for the national daily El Espectador. Molano attributed to unnamed members of the family, the Arajos, a series of actions he described as unlawful and immoral, including election tampering and smuggling. The family denied the allegations, and several family members filed a criminal defamation complaint against Molano days after the column was published. No trial date had been set by late year.

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Zorro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Why the pathetic attempt to take the OP thread off-topic?
Chavez and Uribe have found common ground, which is notable.

You apparently prefer a state of hostility to exist between the two neighboring countries, instead of cooperation and peaceful relations.
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 02:48 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Agreed - what was that all about? n/t
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 05:17 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. "You apparently prefer a state of hostility to exist between the two neighboring countries" Really!
Edited on Sun Jan-25-09 05:40 AM by Judi Lynn
How do you divine that bit of brilliance?

If I started dive bombing people who have added material about totally different countries and people altogether to my threads, I would have worn myself to a frazzle long ago.

I can start a thread on any of the Latin American countries and the U.S., and some jackass is going to show up taking stupid, unrelated pot shots at Hugo Chavez. You wouldn't know anything about that, of course.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 05:08 AM
Response to Original message
6. It is very important to understand what the Chavez-Uribe economic cooperation is about.
Last year, the Bushwhacks tried to start a war between Colombia and Ecuador/Venezuela. Chavez played a critical role in stopping that war. President Lula da Silva called him "the great peacemaker," because of it.

It became clear from that incident--and a later series of incidents regarding FARC hostage negotiations--that the Bushwhacks were calling the shots in the Colombian military, quite literally, from a "war room" in the U.S. embassy in Bogota, with extremely treacherous and evil purposes.

The situation in Colombia is VERY bad, with an out-of-control military, funded by $6 BILLION in U.S./Bushwhack military aide, and closely tied rightwing paramilitary death squads, who, together (about half and half) have slaughtered thousands of union leaders, small peasant farmers, political leftists, community organizers, human rights workers, journalists and others--anyone who opposes the current regime--a reign of rightwing terror. Colombia's democracy is extremely tenuous. You can't really have a democracy amidst a "reign of terror" like this. Uribe and many of his cohorts have ties to the death squads and to narco/weapons trafficking. But Defense Minister Santos is worse than Uribe, if they is imaginable. Santos is an incipient Hitler, with not the slightest interest in maintaining even the appearance of democracy. It is within his military that assassination plots against Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, have been discovered. President Uribe had to apologize to Chavez about this, in a four hour meeting, about a year and a half ago.

One of the things the Bushwhacks did was to manufacture evidence in an alleged FARC laptop computer that Chavez was supporting the FARC guerrillas (leftist guerrillas, who have been fighting the fascist regime in Colombia for more than forty years). Uribe trumpeted this phony evidence--an excruciatingly treacherous act against Chavez, since it was Uribe himself who asked Chavez to negotiate with the FARC for the release of hostages, which Chavez went ahead and did. Chavez got six hostages released in Dec '07/Feb '08. But the Colombian military fired rockets at the first two hostages' location, as they were in route to their freedom, driving them back on a 20-mile hike into the jungle. In other words, it appears that either Uribe set Chavez up--trying to hand him a diplomatic disaster, with dead hostages--or the Colombian military tried to sabotage the hostage release, behind Uribe's back. Uribe's behavior during this period was especially erratic and strange. He asked Chavez to get hostages released, then, a couple of days before the first two were to be released, suddenly rescinded that request. In the same week, Donald Rumsfeld published an op-ed in the Washington Post--Dec '07--stating that Chavez's help with hostages releases was "not welcome" in Colombia. Uribe's strings were being pulled in Washington, this way and that, in a very odd dance. (Note: Chavez managed to get those two hostages out, by a different route, and four more a bit later.)

Now, consider the concern not just of Chavez--a democratically elected, leftist president, in an eminently and provably democratic country--and the other leaders throughout South America, virtually all of whom are also leftists and democrats, and strong allies of Chavez, about this fascist dinosaur, Colombia, with $6 BILLION in U.S./Bushwhack funding. This is a very dangerous situation, as the bombing/raid on Ecuador established. All hell broke loose in South America when the U.S./Colombia bombed and raided in Ecuador's territory, and Colombia was condemned by all.

But ever since these events, there has been considerable evidence that South American leaders, including Chavez, and also Lula Da Silva (Brazil) and Michele Batchelet (Chile) and others, are working very hard to pull Colombia into the orbit of their new 'common market'--UNASUR--and to strengthen the civilian government in Colombia over and against the Colombian military. Santos has tried to undermine these efforts. For instance, when Uribe visited Chavez, last year, for a "burying the hatchet" meeting (at which they first announced joint economic ventures, such as a railroad between their countries), Santos publicly ridiculed the meeting. He is a supposed employee of Uribe, yet dared to do this--tried to undermine civilian policy. He wants to run Colombia, and, if he did, there wouldn't be even highly non-transparent elections, with leftists terrorized by death squads. There would be no elections at all. It would be an outright junta.

Uribe may be corrupt (very), with ties to death squads (regime propped up by them), and ties to narco-trafficking, but, under his regime, the legislature meets (thought leftist legislators have to wear bulletproof vests), and courts and prosecutors investigate and sometimes convict and jail Uribe cronies (though the judges and prosecutors endure death threats as well). This barely functioning democracy is necessary to "sell" Colombia to the "free tradist" politicians in the U.S.--but it is also a bar to what Santos would do--nix elections altogether, rule by decree and probably invade Venezuela and hand its oil states over to Exxon Mobil (with Donald Rumsfeld's and Blackwater's help, I'm sure).

Although Chavez uses stern rhetoric and ridicule against Bushwhacks, he is actually a jolly, friendly fellow, well-liked among the leaders of South America, who is excellent at overcoming hostility and negotiating peace. He has done it time and again. (As to other leaders liking him, you really have to see the video of Chavez and the new leftist president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo--a former bishop--doing their rendition of the popular song, "Todo cambio"--"Everything changes"--at Lugo's inauguration party; or watch Chavez maneuvering at the Rio Group, between Uribe and Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, over the bombing incident, with Chavez smiling, laughing, joking and back-slapping, as he got them both to back off from a hot war--to understand why Chavez is so respected among South American leaders, and their peoples.)

So-o-o, fast-forward to now, and this current round of Chavez-Uribe economic initiatives. Colombia is very isolated in South America, surrounded by leftist countries, and Uribe is NOT well-liked. He doesn't have a jolly bone in his body. He is a Bush imitation (though he may be smarter than Bush), propped up by death squads (that he tries to keep his hands clean of) and narco-trafficking, and trying to get a "free trade" deal out of the U.S. He needs Chavez and UNASUR more than they need him. They want him in order to have unity (which they did achieve, by the way, at the UNASUR meeting dealing with the recent Bushwhack coup plot in Bolivia--Colombia voted with the majority to back the Morales government in Bolivia, which had thrown the U.S. ambassador out of the country). And just think for a moment of the amazing nature of this Colombia-Venezuela economic cooperation--between the most progressive government of South America--an advocate of "Socialism for the 21st century," and the most questionable, fascist government in the region, virtually the only ally of the Bush junta.

It is remarkable. It speaks to the tension between civilian government and the military in Colombia, and to Chavez's desire for peace in the region, and for a new day of integration and cooperation, in which the U.S. can no longer "divide and conquer" Latin America. Chavez's ability to make peace with Uribe is an example of why Obama's apparent policy of hostility to Chavez is so foolish. This policy will never get anywhere, and its logical end is war--the war that Rumsfeld and Exxon Mobil and Defense Minister Santos want, to take control of Venezuela's oil, and begin to turn back the peaceful, democratic, leftist gains all over the continent (and into Central America*).


(*Tally of leftist governments. South America: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile (center-left). (Colombia-fascist. Peru--very corrupt "free tradist.") Central America: Nicaragua, Guatemala and (upcoming election--leftist way ahead) El Salvador. Honduras is leaning left and recently allied with the ALBA trade group, which is led by Venezuela. In Mexico, the leftist came within 0.05% of winning a couple of years ago, and will likely win next time around. Costa Rica is democratic and progressive, but recently went "free tradist" (--which could result in a leftist backlash, as unions decline and people get poorer). Cuba--that strange combination of monarchy and communism, with the best health care and educational systems possibly in the world--is hard to peg, as left or right. They cannot be described as democratic, but they are allied with most democratic governments ever to be elected in Latin America. Funny, how it's such a big deal in the U.S. to just "talk to Cuba." Latin America got over that idiocy long ago.)
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jzodda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 06:17 AM
Response to Original message
8. Anything that promotes peace in an unstable region is a good thing
Trade helps to do just that because it makes both sides think twice about spoiling the benefits they receive from it. It's a good place place to start.

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bitchkitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
9. The "Great Peacemaker" does it again.
Zorro, nice to see you coming around to the right, or rather left, side. Does this mean that you're not going to call Chavez childish names or post RW hit pieces anymore?
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