- Colombian President Álvaro Uribe said yesterday that he was snubbed by Al Gore at an upcoming environmental conference in Miami.
They called me this afternoon to tell me that Vice President Al Gore’s office, in the United States, had informed them that Vice President Gore would not attend the forum because he could not share it with the President of Colombia, after the debates in Colombia against the Uribe Vélez family and against the President.
Earlier – disturbingly, and while sharing the stage with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet – Uribe blamed his recent image problems in Washington on "friends of the guerrillas."
I am very worried that the guerrillas’ political friends, who live here constantly posing as political enemies of yankee imperialism, frequently travel to the United States to discredit the Colombian government, for two purposes: the purpose of keeping the Free Trade Agreement from being approved, and the purpose of suspending the aid.
Uribe continued, on national television, by charging that the recent accusations come from "friends of the guerrillas, politicians who want the guerrillas to triumph in Colombia, but lack the authenticity to call for it openly."
- The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, a prominent Colombian human-rights organization, has compiled the most comprehensive list to date of Colombian officials under arrest or under investigation for alleged paramilitary ties. Visit this page and download the Microsoft Word (.doc) files linked at the bottom. We will have an English summary available soon.
- The Colombian government has given US$500,000 to the OAS Inter-American Human Rights Commission. This is being viewed by some as a show of Bogotá’s commitment to human rights, and by others as a naked attempt to influence the commission’s work. El Tiempo notes:
The contribution of such a sum draws attention, since the annual budget of the IAHRC is between US$1.5 and $2 million. This means that Colombia’s donation equals almost one-third of this body’s annual budget. … The IAHRC is one of the international organizations that views the "Justice and Peace" law with a critical eye. And it is the tribunal that has in its hands transcendentally important cases of human-rights violations in Colombia. According to the Interior Ministry, there are 158 cases before the IAHRC that involve Colombia.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales, visiting Venezuela on Sunday, had some strong things to say about U.S. aid. He complained that it is always conditioned on "the privatization of our natural resources, the privatization of state resources, or finally they ask us to fight terrorism … but there is no terrorism." He added, "The terrorists ask us to fight terrorism in order to give aid. For them, the terrorists are the social movements. How can we accept conditioned aid?"
- Mostly off-topic, but here is an interesting map, based on a survey of several U.S. Wal-Mart stores, of where the discount retailer’s products come from. As you’d expect, China dominates. Colombia is one of only three South American countries to appear on the map at all.