COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK STATEMENT ON AWARD OF PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM TO ALVARO URIBE VELEZ
President George W. Bush is today presenting the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom to Alvaro Uribe Velez, the President of Colombia. We think this award is extremely inappropriate, and the selection of President Uribe debases the value of the award. During Alvaro Uribe’s Presidency the scope of paramilitary activities and of Colombian Army abuses has expanded greatly. Numerous members of Mr. Uribe’s party in Congress have been tied to the illegal paramilitaries, and his Presidential palace received a paramilitary murdered named Job and paramilitary representatives linked to the drug trade. The paramilitary activities, encouraged by members of Mr. Uribe’s party and by military officers collaborating with the paramilitaries, have displaced millions of peasants, indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians from their homelands, making Colombia the leading country in the world with over 4 million displaced persons, nearly 10% of the country’s population.
President Uribe has characterized the human rights community as guerrilla apologists, a patent lie. Meanwhile, with corruption rampant in his government, Mr. Uribe arranged a bribe of a Congresswoman to vote for his re-election, without which he would not have had the votes needed for re-election. His anti-drug policy of crop spraying with Roundup Ultra has, meanwhile, decimated many peasants’ food crops while hardly denting coca production. And labor leaders continue to be murdered in numbers greater than anywhere else in the world.
If there is to be an award of the Medal of Freedom to Colombia it should go, not to the President who has done so much to wreck his country, but to the communities who have organized in peaceful resistance to the Uribe policies— such as the sister communities which Colombia Support Network chapters have been privileged to work with, such as the Peace Community of San Josesito de Apartado, the Movimiento Campesina de Cajibio, the Embera-Chami community in the Putumayo, the Movimiento Ciudadano de Tiquisio, the Constituent Assembly of Mogotes, and the Alto Naya community. These grass-roots community organizations, which have suffered greatly from paramilitary and military violence, it has been our privilege to promote and support.
Colombia Support Network
January 12, 2009
RECOMMENDED ACTION :
Send this statement to your Members of Congress . Please go to our website and see CSN’s Action Center: www.colombiasupport.net
Send this to : www.change.gov and to Obama’s transition team
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621