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26 reasons to be critical

December 30, 2008

This chain email made the rounds in Colombia back in October, and seems like a good introduction to the particular political and humanitarian crisis the country is in. It’s 57 reasons (57 is the country code) not to support President Alvaro Uribe Vélez. (The Congress recently approved a resolution to amend the Constitution and allow Uribe to run for a third term.) I don’t know who wrote it, but parts of it have been republished in independent/Left newspapers. Keep in mind this is before he had to fire many army officers, and the chief of the armed forces resigned this month over the executions of homeless youths, the so-called “false positives,” who were made to look like guerrillas. And before he jailed the chief of the narco-pyramid scheme that has decimated the savings of possibly millions of Colombians in rural departments like Nariño and Putumayo, where recent uprisings over the collapse have been anti-Uribe.

Here’s a hasty translation of 26 of the reasons…

Because he raised the age to collect a pension to 57 for women and 62 for men

Because he closed and ordered liquidated 18 hospitals

Because he eliminated over 30,000 public sector jobs

Because when he was a senator he supported Law 100/93 which converted the service of health into a business where only profits matter, not the patients’ quality of life

Because the price of gasoline has risen every month to be about the priciest in the world [still true — it’s about $4 a gallon in Colombia, $1.50 a gallon in Ecuador]

Because the Patriot Plan implemented in the south of the country has had a strong environmental impact, has aided concentration of land, violated human rights, criminalizes and involves people in the conflict who have nothing to do with it, and permits military intervention and the permanent presence of foreign troops in our territory, coincidentally in areas rich in coal, natural gas, oil, biodiversity, and the most important of all: water.

Because he was the only president in South America to aid the invasion and genocide of the people of Iraq, support of an illegal and illegitimate war that goes against a decades-old internationalist tradition in Colombia

Because he has pilfered more than $14 million daily in his useless and sterile war while he continues to ignore that this violence causes hunger, unemployment and the lack of income

Because he wouldn’t permit the government to indemnify or repay the victims of violence nor allowed them to know the truth about crimes in Colombia [related to extraditing paramilitary leaders for drug trafficking, not murder or other crimes]

Because he’s allowed impunity for crimes committed by US’ers, while he sends Colombians to US courts, so they can be tried in another language and without a right to their defense, and where in many cases they have been returned to Colombia [for lack of evidence]

Because he allowed the imposition of the Free Trade Agreement with the US which will ruin the agriculture, textile, pharmaceutial and fishing sectors and even national television

Because they have expropriated more than $15 million from narcotraffickers and nobody counts the money or knows whose pockets its gone to

Because he’s been buying up more land around his estate in Córdoba, which is already 2,000 hectares (Bogota is 3,000 hectares) and it never looks good when a president enriches himself while in office

Because his “Democratic Security” policy with its massive detentions and networks of informants [there are hundreds of thousands], has served to cause some who have been liberated for violations of due process and the absence of evidence against them, to be assasinated, coincidentally, by unknown forces

Because he publically attacked human rights defenders, calling them “spokespeople of terrorism” for questioning his antiterrorist security policies

Because he denies the existence of an internal armed conflict in Colombia, which prevents the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which only seeks to humanize the horror of war and protect those who do not participate directly in the hostilities

Because in Cajamarca, Tolima there was a massacre perpetrated by the army (and this has been confirmed by the Attorney General who put forward a resolution accusing various military officers) and the president instead of soliciting an investigation decided that it was just a military error, when the victims had been extrajudicially executed

Because the Constitutional Court had to call the government’s attention to the situation of displacement, due to the lack of interest and protection by the state towards the displaced, and their situation continues

Because the entitites charged with agrarian reform and control of land in Colombia FINAGRO and INCODER, have been consumed by scandals over the irregular adjudication of land and credits to powerful landowners, while the displaced die of hunger in the cities. According to the accused officials the Ministry of Agriculture has also been complicit. They give all to the victimizers and leave out the victims

Because people investicated by the Attorney General for ties to paramilitaries gave millions (some up to tens of thousands of dollars) to his presidential campaign

Because during his tenure the cultivation of African palm oil, the “green desert” has extended throughout the country, by way of displacement and stripping bare collectively owned land of indigenous and African-descendent communities

Because during his tenure the indigenous Arhuacas, Koguis, Wiwas and Kankuamas communities have suffered extermination at the hands of the different actors of the conflict, without the government doing anything to impede this, constituting an international shame for Colombia

Because he instituted the forest law, which opened the doors to the mercantizing and indiscriminate exploitation of the forests and jungles of Colombia, denying international parameters of environmental rights

Because after the massacre of the [peace community] San José de Apartadó, where the community named army soldiers responsible, the president did not condemn the massacre but rather said the community had been influenced by guerrillas

Because his education minister is putting forward an academic reform at the National University with the goal of producing a professional “more in accord with the demands of the market” because the university “is teaching a lot.” (Actual cited text.) No more critical thinking profesionals, committed to the development of their country and people, but rather cheap manual labor for the factories and large companies

For the hypocrasy represented by his defending the legitimacy of a Congress that has more than 80 under investigation or who have been convicted for “para-politics,” connections to paramilitaries, all of them of the Uribe coalition, one of them Mario Uribe, who more than being his cousin was his right hand man politically

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