10 Questions for Alvaro Uribe

The Center for American Progress is hosting Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Wednesday, May 2 at 1 pm for a discussion on a wide variety of topics. Press and audience members will have a rare opportunity to pose questions to the secretive Uribe (President Bush's top ally in the region), who is in the United States to repay a visit by President Bush and make his case for a free trade agreement. Before the event, starting at 11:45, labor union officials and Colombia monitors will hold a die-in to protest Uribe's ties to rightist paramilitaries (more info below).

Here are 10 questions that those inside for the conversation need to ask President Uribe:

1.    Why is meeting with Democrats in Washington grounds for putting your political opponents under government surveillance?

2.    Have you ever hosted a meeting where paramilitaries discussed plans for murdering their opponents? Have you ever personally murdered anyone?

3.    Why should Americans or Colombians tolerate the free trade agreement giving foreign companies the right to demand that taxpayers compensate them whenever they claim that an American or Colombia law has cost them profit? Already, under similar provisions in Nafta, American taxpayers face more than $1 billion in claims from foreign corporations who want to be compensated because, for instance, California is no longer allowing the toxic additive MTBE in gasoline and because it has protected sacred Native American sites from mining. Why should American and Colombia taxpayers take on the burden of compensating corporations for stopping sometimes deadly activities that they shouldn't be conducting in the first place?

4.    How can you defend a free trade agreement that will cause U.S. producers to flood the Colombian market with surplus produce, forcing some farmers into bankruptcy and causing others to slash and burn more rainforest in a desperate land grab? At a time when global warming is a concern for everyone, how can you justify an agreement that will help destroy the planet's rainforest lungs?

5.    Similarly, how can you tell Americans they should support an agreement that will cause farmers to make up for lost income by expanding coca cultivation, increasing the flood of cocaine that addles American minds and destroys American neighborhoods (not to mention fueling Colombia's civil war)?

6.    How do you defend an agreement that will restrict the ability of governments to confine sensitive operations to domestic contractors? Will this not jeopardize both Colombian and American national security?

7.    The proposed free trade agreement with Colombia includes nothing to prevent Colombia from weakening its labor laws below even the weak standards it has now; why should Congress approve an agreement that could be violated with impunity?

8.    How do you defend how the Free Trade Agreement will raise prescription drug prices for Colombians? Under the agreement, legitimate Colombian drug producers will have to provide the same 20 year monopoly on a new drug provided in the United States - keeping lifesaving drugs out of the hands of Colombians who need them.

9.    How can you allow Colombia's sovereignty to be undermined by allowing U.S. companies far greater latitude to sell firearms, tobacco, and alcohol than even Colombian companies have, especially when your country continues to be torn apart by civil war?

10.    How can you defend a free trade agreement that, unlike prior agreements, doesn't even include an appellate system in the case of miscarriages of justice? What recourse will Colombians and Americans have if deciding authorities are corrupted or are just incompetent?

Below is further information about the protest. I included information about the Center for American Progress's Uribe forum in yesterday's post.

Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, May 2nd at 11:45am
to Protest Alvaro Uribe and the Colombia-U.S. "Free Trade" Agreement

WHEN:11:45 am Wednesday, May 2, 2007
WHERE:Center for American Progress, 1333 H Street, NW Washington, DC

WHO: Union leaders, Colombian exiles, human rights groups and concerned citizens united to oppose business-as-usual with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.

Speakers include:
Bob Baugh, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO
Deborah Schneider, Change to Win and Director, SEIU Global Organizing Partnerships
Gerardo Cajamarca, Colombian City Councilman in Exile, SINALTAINAL, member of the Steelworkers Global Justice Team
Marino Cordoba, Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians - USA, AFRODES-USA
John Jairo Garces, Un Día de Esperanza, Colombian exile whose father was killed by paramilitaries
Heather Hanson, Executive Director, U.S. Office on Colombia
Christina Lizzi, Student Trade Justice Campaign, George Washington University

WHAT: Protest!!! Protestors will have enlarged photos of children, labor union members, and members of their own families who have been victims of the paramilitary death squads in Colombia. There will also be a "die-in", where protesters will lie in body-bags to symbolize the thousands of people who have been killed with impunity under Uribes watch. JOIN US!

BACKGROUND: Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has come to the United States to try to salvage the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, a deal that would have devastating impacts on poor and rural communities in Colombia already suffering from years of violence at the hands of paramilitary groups that have ties to the Uribe Administration. Colombian labor unions, afro-descendent communities and indigenous peoples are vigorously opposing the trade agreement, as it is sure to further impoverish rural communities, enrich companies with ties to paramilitaries, and lead to an increase in drug-trafficking and violence.

President Uribe is being investigated for ties to the paramilitary AUC, a U.S. State Department designated "international terrorist organization" and other paramilitary groups. Since Uribe took office in 2002, more than 400 union activists have been killed. The Uribe government has failed to hold the perpetrators accountable for these atrocities. His government has been rocked by multiple scandals in recent months related to the links of close Uribe associates with right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for the majority of the killings. Many of Uribes political allies, advisors and cabinet members have resigned or been arrested, including his Foreign Minister, his intelligence director, and Senators that are key supporters of his in the Colombian Congress.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration selected the Uribe government for special trade negotiations and now is asking the Democratic-majority U.S. Congress to consider approving a Colombia-U.S. free trade agreement.

We need to let the U.S. Congress know that cutting a deal with a government with such an egregious human rights record and close ties to terrorist groups is an outrage!

For more information about the Colombia-U.S. FTA, see www.citizen.org/trade/afta

--------------------
*EVENTO DE PRIORIDAD

Por favor re-enviar a sus amigos y colegas

Únete a nosotros en la Protesta Conferencia de Prensa en contra de la visita
del presidente Álvaro Uribe de Colombia, y contra el controversial "Tratado
de Libre Comercio" entre Colombia y EEUU.

CUANDO : Miércoles 2 de mayo del 2007.
Comienzo de la protesta -- 11:45am
Conferencia de prensa -- 12:15pm

DONDE : Frente al edificio del Center for American Progress, en 1333 H
Street NW, Washington, DC.

QUIENES: Líderes sindicales, exiliados colombianos, grupos de los derechos
humanos y ciudadanos responsables, unidos para oponerse a negocios de
corrupción empresarial con el presidente colombiano Álvaro Uribe.

ORADORES:

- Gerardo Cajamarca, Concejal colombiano exiliado, y miembro de
SINALTRAINAL, Equipo de Trabajadores del Acero por Justicia Global
- Marino Córdoba, exiliado colombiano, de AFRODES-USA (Asociación de
los Pueblos Afro-colombianos Desplazados Internamente)
- John Jairo Garces, de Un Día de Esperanza, exiliado colombiano cuyo
padre fue asesinado por los paramilitares.
-Bob Baugh, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO
-Deborah Schneider, Change to Win and Director, SEIU Global Organizing Partnerships
-Heather Hanson, Executive Director, U.S. Office on Colombia
-Christina Lizzi, Student Trade Justice Campaign, George Washington University

LA PROTESTA:

Los manifestantes tendrán fotos de niños, líderes sindicales, y miembros de
sus familias quienes han sido victimas de los escuadrones de la muerte de
los paramilitares en Colombia. También habrá manifestantes en bolsas de
cuerpos muertos, para simbolizar los miles de personas asesinados con
impunidad bajo el liderazgo de Uribe. UNETE A NOSOTROS!

HISTORIAL:

El presidente colombiano Álvaro Uribe ha venido a los Estados Unidos para
intentar rescatar el tratado de Libre Comercio entre Colombia y EEUU, un
acuerdo que tendría un impacto devastador en las comunidades pobres y
rurales de Colombia, que sufren de años de violencia en manos de los grupos
paramilitares que tienen conexión con el gobierno de Uribe. Lideres
sindicales, comunidades de afro-descendientes e indígenas se oponen
vigorosamente contra este acuerdo comercial, pues asegura más pobreza para
las comunidades rurales, enriqueciendo compañías con conexiones con los
paramilitares, y podría aumentar un aumento en el narcotráfico y la
violencia.

El presidente Uribe esta siendo investigado por sus conexiones con el grupo
paramilitar AUC, designado por el Departamento de Estado de EEUU como "una
organización terrorista internacional", además de otros grupos
paramilitares. Desde que Uribe subió al poder, más de 400 líderes sindicales
han sido asesinados. El gobierno de Uribe no ha denunciado a los culpables
de estas atrocidades y su gobierno esta lleno de múltiples escándalos en los
recientes meses, debido a las relaciones de socios cercanos de Uribe, con
los grupos paramilitares de extrema derecha, responsables de la mayoría de
asesinatos. Muchos de los aliados políticos de Uribe, consejeros y miembros
de su gabinete han renunciado o han sido arrestados, incluyendo su Ministro
de Relaciones Exteriores, su Director de Inteligencia, y Senadores que son
sus importantes aliados en el congreso colombiano.

No obstante, la administración Bush seleccionó el gobierno de Uribe para
especiales negociaciones comerciales y ahora está solicitando que el
congreso de EEUU con mayoría Demócrata, considere el aprobar el tratado de
libre comercio entre Colombia y EEUU.

¡Necesitamos hacer saber al congreso de EEUU que firmar un acuerdo con un
gobierno con tal historial notorio de violaciones de derechos humanos
notorios y lazos cercanos a grupos terroristas es un ultraje inaceptable!

Para más información sobre el Tratado de Libre Comercio entre EEUU y Colombia: www.citizen.org/trade/afta


Tags: Center For American Progress, cocaine, Colombia, drugs, Environment, Ethanol, free trade, palm oil, Prescription Drugs, rainforest, soybeans, trade, tropical forests, Uribe (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

Re: 10 Questions for Alvaro Uribe
Everyone should read this, including our administration!
Mary Hurowitz
by mary hurowitz 2007-05-02 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: 10 Questions for Alvaro Uribe

American coddling of Latin American leaders with questionable character has not tended to end well.... Cf. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/MCPYA N.html?show=reviews

by Hauser 2007-05-02 05:11AM | 0 recs

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