Filed under: Americas
A reader sends forward a translation of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's remarks regarding he U.S. Congress' decision to deny a free trade agreement with his country, translated by a Colombian writer and blogger Max Vergara Poeti whose blog you can visit here.
His words are powerful and damning. He says that Congress is completely lacking in both history as well as facts. He says that Colombia will not be treated as a servile tinpot dictatorship. Have the Democrats pushed away our only true ally in the Americas, giving the likes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro exactly what they want?
You can read the statements below. I am sure that readers from Colombia will be interested to know what our stateside readers think about what Congress did as well as Uribe's reaction.
Source: Presidencia de la República de Colombia (The President’s Office)
Translation and Transcript: Max Vergara Poeti
The President of Colombia asks for respect on behalf of the United States, as U.S. Congress asks "concrete evidence of sustained results on the ground of impunity and murder in Colombia" to support a FTA that was recently passed by the Colombian Congress. U.S. congressmen forgot that they were actually adressing a sovereign allied republic and not a puppet nation. Such unfair and ungrateful attitude caused rage and uncomfort in Colombia and to President Alvaro Uribe, United States' closest ally in the hemisphere.
Remarks of the Speech given by President Alvaro Uribe Velez in the town of Buenaventura, Colombia, on June 30 2007.
"We are not going to allow our relationship with the United States to become that of Master and Colombia as the servile republic"
"We are loyal and sincere, we comply with this alliance with the United States"
"Why U.S. Congress did not protest in 2000 and 2002 when the country was in hands of guerrillas and paramilitary forces, and now that Colombia is coming loose from that grip they are horrorized?
"We are not telling the United States to look after Colombia as its only solid ally left in Latin America; we are instead telling the United States to respect Colombia"
President President Alvaro Uribe Velez affirmed that he will not allow the United States to transform a relationship based on mutual respect between two countries that had been close friends and allies into one of a mere master with its servile republic.
This reaction of the President of Colombia is a reply to a statement made public by a segment of the U.S. Congress, in which it was announced that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA-TLC) with Colombia was not going to be ratified unless more results became evident from the country's struggle against impunity and the murder of trade unionists.
President Uribe stressed that Colombia was not governed by a dictatorship or is a Banana Republic, but a respectable democracy that was making all efforts within its reach and his government had the sustained evidence to prove the results of such efforts.
He remembered that the Colombian government has been a very close friend and ally of President Clinton and President Bush in regard with Plan Colombia, and that was the reason why he stressed that his first reply to the official note of yesterday was to stress that the alliance between the United States and Colombia could not turn into that of an Empire and its servile republic.
COLOMBIA HAS COMPLIED
President Uribe its grateful for the support from Presidents Clinton and Bush, because it has built a relationship of allies in which Colombia has complied and has numbers to demonstrate it.
"Which government in the world can say that in 5 years has extradited more than 600 people to the U.S? I believe no one.
"Which government in the world can say that is fumigating 160,000 hectares of drug crops per year, that in 2005 erradicated 31,200, in 2006 43,000 hectares and that in this year will erradicate manually more than 50,000? No one except Colombia.
"Which government in the world can talk of cocaine seizures as had been reported in Colombia, specially in the area of the Pacific Ocean? No one.
"Which government in the world can say that its law system has strict application in regard to the expropriation of illicit wealth and such laws are applied as rigourously as in Colombia? No one.
"The way as we have come through proves that we are loyal, honest and we had complied honoring our alliance with the United States".
"But for our dignity, for our democracy, for what we truly deserve in regard of that alliance and accomplishments, we are not going to allow that this relationship as allies, based on mutual respect, that we built during the Clinton administration and we had strengthened with the Bush Administration, becomes that of a master and its servile republic. There's no chance for that to happen".
TRADE UNIONISTS AND IMPUNITY
President Uribe remembered that the U.S. Congress has to recognize what has been done to date and where was Colombia standing 5 years ago in regard to the murder of trade unionists and impunity.
He said that was valid for Colombia that the United States worried about trade unionists and impunity in consequence of Plan Colombia and the FTA now in question, but what was not valid is that the efforts that had turned positive results remained deliberately ignored, and that there is a part of Congress that wants to make everyone believe that a relationship of allies can be turned into a relationship based on domination.
In 2002, were reported 256 murders of trade unionists, while in 2005 it was reduced into 25 but in 2006 rose to 60 as result of proven vendettas and clashes between the guerrilla bands of FARC and ELN.
In regard of impunity on investigations, President Uribe said that in a country that used to report 35,000 people killed every year, not even with the best system of justice in the world impunity could be alliviated.
He remembered that during his first term a new penal law system was introduced, which was reinforced in 2006 with a package of US$70 million, Codes and laws were reformed, the Office of the Attorney General got a greater chunk from the national budget and that the government has kept with its monthly meetings with trade unions in order to study numbers and keep the threats low.
Uribe remembered that as he last visited the United States, 37 verdicts had condemned 59 delinquents responsible for the murder of trade unionists, and an official report from June 28 says that to this moment 46 judgements have put 75 criminals behind the bars for such crimes.
The President made clear that in Colombia businessmen and entrepreneurs were not behind the murders of workers, neither workers had been actively kidnapping their bosses, but guerrilla groups and paramilitary terrorists were the only responsible for such acts; and he stressed that it is evident for anyone anywehre that the government has been attacking both criminal groups.
He insisted that U.S. Congressmen can't ignore the numbers, specially that Colombia had in 2003 nearly 60,000 active terrorists, and that more than 43,000 had demobilized in the past 4 years.
Uribe added that the problems the country has had to face were enormous, but the results obtained were more significative.
President Uribe asked why U.S. Congress did not protest in 2000 and 2002 when the country was in hands of guerrillas and paramilitary forces, and now that Colombia is coming loose from that grip they are horrorized?
"We can't accept that, that is the evidence that shows that they had been misinformed or that they have the goal to turn the relationship between our countries into one of domination that we will not admit at any cost", the President insisted.
He considered that Congress is also ignoring that Colombia used to experience more than 3,000 kidnappings per year, and that in the last year only 95 were reported. Record, Uribe admitted, is still too high.
U.S. Congress is also ignoring that Colombia has reduced to a half the figures of murder. There were years when 15 journalists were murdered in Colombia (per year) by terrorists, while in 2006 no journalist was murdered. He remembered that his policy of Democratic Security has allowed such results.
OURS IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP OF DOMINATION
"It is positive for the U.S. Congress to express its worries, and we respect that they express sometimes their uneasiness, but we also demand that they recognize where we used to be, where we are going and what we had done to be where we now stand. They must understand that they can't proceed unfairly against us misinformed, because it is their duty to understand what Colombians had been suffering. They must make this clear that our relationship must be based on mutual respect as allies, as we deserve it, as Colombia has been treated by both President Bush and President Clinton, and that it won't be ever replaced by one of domination in which the United States will perform the role of master and Colombia as its servant.
"A relationship based on imposition and domination, even if U.S. Congress finally supports our FTA, would be more harmful for our democracy and even more harmful for the wrecked relationship between the United States and the rest of Latin America, which it's no lie for anyone that it is in its most critical point today.
"We are not telling the United States to look after Colombia as its only solid ally left in Latin America; we are instead telling the United States to respect Colombia and Colombians. We do not care if we are the only ally left or another of its few allies, what we all care about is that we had been a respectful ally and that we had accomplished as the results of this strong alliance had proved to date", affirmed Uribe.
He also remembered the experience the United States had with Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, as happened with many other dictatorships in Central America and South America during the 70s and 80s, and that many Americans in fact saw and considered them as criminals, but it didn't matter, because they were U.S. crucial allies. "They used to say that those dictators were truly s.o.b's, but after all were theirs".
"That is not the case with Colombia, here we have a respectful democracy. Those governments who can only afford such humiliated positions based on servilism are dictatorships and criminal governments. Here in Colombia we have a healthy democracy that deserves most dignity from the United States.
"It is the reason that I want to remind that wing of U.S. Congress that is opposing Colombia that they are not in the presence of a Somoza, or a Banana Republic dictatorship of the like that in Central America accepted crimes even against its own people in order to maintain a solid alliance with the United States. It is not our case. This is a respectful and honorable democracy, I'm heading a government that has done all that has been possible to defeat terrorism, which are guerrillas and paramilitary groups.
"We will not tell U.S. Congress to look after Colombia as a Somoza, that is their only ally left in Latin America. We are not imploring our status as their sole ally but that of their respectful ally, and because of that with all respect this speech must say the whole truth, and I'm very pained that I was informed of this official statement of the Democratic majority late last night and I regret that no one in my government rejected it. We must reject such statements on time, we must and will speak with everyone about this".