t r u t h o u t | 01.27
Sunday 25 January 2009
John I. Laun of the Colombia Support Network asks if President Obama will support leaders like Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, who violate the rule of law in their countries. (Photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama in his inaugural address committed his administration to following the rule of law. No doubt the rule of law greatly needs to be followed in the
It is also vital, however, for the Obama Administration to take into account the manner and extent of compliance with the rule of law by governments in countries with which the
This consideration is particularly important in the case of
They should look, first, at Mr. Uribe's re-election in 2006. He procured a change in a constitutional provision limiting a President to one four-year term by bribing through his associates in government a Colombian Congresswoman, Yidis Medina, to change her vote against re-election to for it in return for the promise of wealth. Is bribery to retain office consistent with the rule of law? Of course not.
Next we can look at President Uribe's Administration's welcome for a paramilitary hit-man called "Job" and a representative of narco-paramilitary leader Diego Murillo ("Don Berna"), who entered the Presidential Palace through a special entrance reserved for diplomats and important visitors. Is this welcoming of illegal paramiliitaries and drug-traffickers into one of the highest and most sacred places of the Colombian polity consistent with the rule of law? In no way.
And what of President Uribe's efforts to eliminate the
The Colombian Constitution of 1991, a very progressive document in many respects, gives indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities special rights to the lands they have occupied and worked for many years. President Uribe's Administration has authored laws and policies which would take away lands from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and provide them to multi-national businesses and to agro-exporters planting African palm and other export-oriented crops. The taking of lands has been achieved by the encroachment of illegal paramilitaries, who have forced literally millions of Colombians off their lands with support from the Colombian Army. Is this consistent with the rule of law? Absolutely not.
Revelations about the conduct about the Colombian military since 2006 have shown that in response to a decree establishing monetary and other rewards for killing guerrillas ( called "positives"), Colombian Army units have kidnapped poor unemployed youths and transported them to areas remote from their home areas and then murdered them and presented them as "guerrillas killed in combat", when they were neither guerrillas not killed in combat. Is this phenomenon, known as "false positives'" in
When President Uribe's head of the DAS (
Clearly Alvaro Uribe Velez has demonstrated time and again his lack of commitment to the rule of law. If President Obama is serious about his own commitment to the rule of law he must recognize these very serious failings in President Uribe 's governing of
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