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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 07:01 AM
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Colombia- U.S. relations: Days of anguish
Source: Semana

Colombia- U.S. relations: Days of anguish
SEMANA/Cover story
The Uribe government fearfully awaits Barack Obama, who thinks quite differently from the Bush administration.
January 20, 2009

Uribe and Foreign Relations Minister Jaime Bermdez repeat time and time again that nothing will change with the arrival of the Democrats in the White House, that U.S. politics is bipartisan. However, one week before the inauguration of the new president of the United States, only one official of the future administration opened up a space in his agenda in order to meet with Uribe. That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was the only member of the Bush cabinet to be retained by Obama, and who is not even a Democrat.

Perhaps most worrisome for the Uribe administration, who risked everything for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), is Clintons comment that the United States still can have a productive relationship with Colombia even without the agreements approval. It is a diametrically opposed position to that of Bush, who up until the last days of his administration used all means possible to get the U.S. Congress to vote for the trade agreement.

Clinton also explained why the Obama government for the time being opposes pushing the approval of the FTA. The ongoing violence and impunity in Colombia against workers and other civic leaders make it impossible to guarantee the protection of trade union rights in Colombia today. Colombia must improve its efforts. Something similar was said that same day by seven human rights NGO, headed by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in a letter in which they opposed the bestowing of the medal on the Colombian president. The similarities of the NGO statement with that of Clintons speech is everything but a coincidence. It is proof that the NGO who so tormented the president will have a lot of muscle in the next four years.

Human rights will be a top priority in the Obama agenda, perhaps like never before. All cooperation with the United States- Plan Colombia, the FTA, etc.- will depend on how the Obama administration and the majority Democratic Congress interpret the compliance or not of the respect for human rights on behalf of the Colombian government and the armed forces. In other words, there will be more interference in internal affairs. It will be a double dose of unwanted medicine for Colombia.

Perhaps that is why, when they asked Uribe what he thought of the last Human Rights Watch report which severely criticized the government in the field of human rights, the ever talkative leader answered, Another question, guys.

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