Friday, November 21, 2008

Human Rights Watch Drops Other Shoe on Colombia Free Trade

Sometimes you can call something inevitable, and the Dallas Morning News supporting the Colombia Free Trade agreement when it appears the occupied White House will be trying to add it to any economic rescue is that sort of news. Recent incidents that include high military officials resigning because they had been shown to be killing civilians to pump up body counts in the U.S. backed campaign against 'insurgents' - ignored. No surprises there.

The arguments for Colombia's corporate class receiving trade favoritism are the usual. That government is stated to have tamped down its rebel factions. This is reason enough to give the maladministration its ransom - so that it will do the job it is supposed to do, represent the public interest.

Presidents Clinton and Bush used military aid to force judicial reforms and a wholesale vetting of the Colombian military. Paramilitary groups have disbanded.

Unionists are still being killed, but the rate of about 40 a year is a far cry from previous decades. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe recently purged the army leadership ­ including its staunchly pro-U.S. commander, Gen. Mario Montoya ­ to prove his commitment to human rights.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says free trade must wait until Colombia demonstrates "concrete and sustained results" on human rights. But even its harshest critics acknowledge Colombia's change has been dramatic.

Human Rights Watch credits pressure from Washington for prompting Colombia "to take some steps in the right direction." A specialized group of prosecutors has reopened investigations of unionist killings, leading to more than 40 convictions in 2007, it says.

Congress has a simple choice: Nurture a partnership that already is showing concrete and sustained results, or dump our most productive South American alliance into the deep freeze. The latter, really, is not an option. It's time to pass the Colombia free trade agreement.

That 'deep freeze' means, they will be back with hats in hand immediately.

And Human Rights Watch which is cited as approving the agreement has quite other things to say.

The specialized prosecutors have yet to even open investigations into more than 1,500 of the reported killings. In high-profile cases, such as the investigation of former intelligence chief Jorge Noguera, who allegedly gave sensitive information about trade unionists to the killers, investigations have moved inexplicably slowly or have been hampered by procedural errors.

Senior officials continue to stigmatize legitimate union activity, portraying it as a cover for the abusive left-wing guerrillas. President Álvaro Uribe recently dismissed international concerns over the violence, describing the union members as "a bunch of criminals dressed up as unionists." (Uribe frequently makes such statements about those who criticize his policies, including, recently, a Human Rights Watch representative.) Given the history of anti-union violence in Colombia, his accusations against union members risk sending the message that the unionist killings are somehow justified.(Emphasis added.)

The efforts of Colombia appear to be directed toward covering up rather than eliminating violations of rights.

The call for using blackmail to get through an agreement which would disgrace this country is despicable, typical of this maladministration. The press that supports it should be ashamed, and it should be brought out that it is covering up real statements by organizations that represent human rights.

A headline I would like to see:

"Congress Refuses to Whitewash Atrocities by White House Acting for Corporate Interest"


Other headlines I am waiting to see or hear:

"Democrats Turn Down Automaker Plea Despite Campaign Contributions"

"Republicans Refuse to Admit Economic Policies A Mistake"

"Bankers Make Hay Off Paulson's Bait and Switch Allotment of Funds"

"Al Qaeda Shows Its Dismay at Losing Chief Recruitment Tool in White House"

"Rural Areas and Workers Vote Against their own Interests"

"Judge Rules Constitution Still In Effect"

"Right Wing Counters Facts with Lies Again"

"President-Elect Obama Keeps His Campaign Promise"

"Progressives Underrepresented (or Absent) in Media Again on Sunday Talkshows"

"Government Serves Corporate Interest, Injuring Real Economy and Corporate Interest"

"Military Covers Up Deaths of (Afghan, Somali, Iraqi, etc.) Civilians in War"

"Administration Uses War on Terrorism as Excuse to Snoop"

"Sen. Edward Kennedy Receives Apology for Badmouthing from Rightwing Fundraisers"

Okay, I am carried away with the prospect of seeing real news reported outside the blogs of rational people. But this is my beginning on a wish list for, say, January 21, 2009. With the war criminals out of power, it is time to start cleaning up. Maybe I will send this to McClatchey where real reporting has continued despite all pressures toward the contrary.

I would welcome your suggestions in comments.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

St. Barack, the Changer, apparently will nominate as his AG a guy who worked to get Chiquita banana company off the hook for hiring Colombian paramilitaries to kill or intimidate labor leaders trying to organize Chiquita's Colombian worker--Chiquita claimed it was paying protection, but it supplied the weapons to the paras it hired.

Change we can--blam, blam, blam, watch out for the headless corpses--believe in...

11:19 AM  

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