Here's a brief dispatch from Colombia Reports website, which tells us of a recent delegation of U.S. and U.K. lawmakers and trade unionists who were very critical of the human rights record of President Alvaro Uribe, calling on an end to military assistance and for a rejection of any free trade deal with Colombia. This week's high-profile delegation coincides with a simultaneous delegation from the U.S., led by Representative Steny Hoyer, who met with President Uribe in Cartagena, and gave the thumbs up for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The contradictory nature of these two reports is startling, even within the Colombian context.
Below are the links to the reports in El Tiempo and Colombia Reports about the pro-FTA delegations. I share with you the other story, which curiously, was not reported in El Tiempo's website on Wednesday. Did they deliberately miss something? Or was it just a coincidence?
Colombia Government complicit in crimes against humanity: Delegation
A delegation of twenty U.S. and British Congressmen and representatives of U.S. and Canadian unions that visited Colombia says "the Government of Álvaro Uribe and the security forces are complicit" in crimes against humanity.
In a statement, the delegation says to be in a "state of shock" and "given the evidence" has "no doubt" that "the Government of Álvaro Uribe and the security forces are complicit in these crimes against humanity."
The unionists and Congressmen heard testimonies of "fathers, mothers, brothers and sons being killed, of families displaced, of innocent peasants being murdered and dressed up as guerrillas, of threatened, intimidated and murdered labor rights workers".
The delegation is "convinced that the murderous activities of the paramilitary forces are endorsed and actively supported by the government and state forces."
Upon returning to the United Kingdom and North America, the members of the delegation will "call for an immediate end of military and political support for Colombia," the statement reads.
The delegation also warns that "there will be no free trade pact with Colombia whatsoever until human rights and union rights are respected in an internationally verifiable way."
Among the parliamentarians were former U.K. Minister of Defense Peter Kilfoyle (Labour) and U.S. congressman James McGovern (D-MA), an outspoken critic of the Uribe administration.
The visit ended on the same day a group of ten U.S. Congressmen met with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe in Cartagena and applauded "the progress that he [Uribe] has made in human rights."