Monday, March 9, 2009

US-COLOMBIA: "Drug Lords" Getting Free Pass on Worse Crimes?

Here is an important story from Inter-Press Service about the latest extradition of a major paramilitary boss, and how it is yet another example of how the truth is expendable in Uribe's Colombia.

The piece is by
Ali Gharib.

WASHINGTON, Mar 6 (IPS) - Yet another of Colombia’s top paramilitary leaders was extradited to the U.S. Thursday to be brought up on drug trafficking charges despite the objections of some rights groups and questions raised by Colombian politicians visiting Washington.

Éver Veloza García was put on a plane for New York by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, making him the 15th high-ranking paramilitary leader to be extradited.

After decades of violent conflict, some of those active in Colombian affairs worry that the singular focus of the U.S. on prosecuting drug crimes could prevent the truth from coming out about human rights abuses, the paramilitaries’ collusion with the government, and answers to questions about the locations of mass graves and stolen lands.

Being in U.S. custody cuts off the paramilitary leaders from Colombian access, and some observers suspect that, amid a political scandal connecting his supporters to the paramilitaries, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe may be whitewashing the record.

"A lot of the truth about Colombia’s conflict left the country when these guys were extradited," said Adam Isaacson of the Centre for International Policy (CIP), noting that while other Colombians have tried to gain access to the men, Uribe’s diplomatic corps have "not been asking about any of this."
Further complicating the relationship between Colombia and the U.S. is a free trade agreement that was pushed for by the then-George W. Bush administration and his right-wing ally, Uribe.

But despite Bush’s glowing praise - over the objections of rights groups, Uribe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - Democrats in Congress were more sceptical about the Colombian president’s human rights record.

For the entire story, go to IPS.

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