June 12, 2009


By RECALCA (Colombian Action Network in Response to Free Trade)
Bogotá, June 11, 2009

We send out this alert to the international community, to governments and parliaments around the world, to unions, social movements and human rights organizations to call attention to the dangerous situation we are experiencing in Colombia. The government of Alvaro Uribe has systematically increased its attacks on the country's legitimate institutions and against anyone who questions him or promotes, through democratic and peaceful means, political alternatives to his policies.

The assault on democracy is carried out in the following ways:

· Attacks on the judicial system. Members of the Court have been systematically spied on and slandered, and their decisions disregarded. These abuses required the presence, in Colombia, of a UN Special Rapporteur on Judicial Independence and another UN official to investigate Extrajudicial Executions, a well documented State crime.

· The persecution of social activists. The government accuses them irresponsibly and without providing any evidence, of being members of illegal armed organizations. One tactic, which President Uribe used during his recent visit to Canada, is to threaten to jail individuals with the help of other governments.

· The persecution of prominent opposition leaders in the Colombian Congress such as Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, Congress Members Piedad Córdoba, Wilson Borja, Gloria Inés Ramírez and Bogotá City Councilman Jaime Caicedo, against whom the Office of the Prosecutor General --an institution controlled directly by the President-- has opened investigations, based on alleged evidence of links to illegal groups. The Justice system is manipulated yet again to persecute serious, respected, and legitimate opposition leaders, and to thwart democracy by criminalizing political opposition.

· The threat of calling a Constitutional Assembly to close Congress if the referendum that will allow the president to seek re-election after 2 consecutive 4-year terms does not pass.

· The persecution of important and well known Indigenous leaders, such as Feliciano Valencia, Aida Quilqué and Daniel Piñacué, against whom arrest warrants have been issued, ignoring and disrespecting the indigenous jurisdiction clearly established in the Colombian Constitution.

· The increase in attacks against and murders of Colombian labor leaders, for which the ILO (International Labor Organization) has again included Colombia on the watchdog list of the Committee on the Application of Standards, while the International Trade Union Confederation has confirmed that more than half of the 76 union leaders murdered in the whole world in 2008 happened in Colombia.

The scandals that surround the Uribe government grow by the day. Prominent examples are the established links between high ranking members of the government and vigilante death squads, and the wire tapping of Court and opposition phones as part of a systematic plan to track their movements. Other examples are the occurrence of extrajudicial executions and the pressure on Congress to get Uribe’s second re-election approved.

Lately the situation has worsened. President Alvaro Uribe has attempted to lay a smokescreen to fool the international community, taking a number of trips abroad and pulling out all the stops to try to get harmful trade treaties ratified. He looks for international support by sacrificing national interests, accepts any type of onerous condition and distracts people's attention away from the true nature of his government, accusing anybody who opposes him of supporting terrorist acts, accusations which persist even though terrorist acts have been roundly condemned not only by the Indigenous and social movements but also by the democratic left, which the government stigmatizes and persecutes.

We call on all governments and people around the world to manifest their solidarity with the Colombian people who have suffered seven years of attacks on their democracy by Alvaro Uribe Velez. The repressive measures taken by the government --intended to close down the democratic process and centralize power in the Presidency and the executive branch as well as in the Police and the Army, with obvious ties to drug trafficking and death squads-- are increasing as the accusations, investigations and illegal and criminal actions of the Government multiply.

The Government of President Uribe is trying to suppress already limited constitutional freedoms, dismantle collective and citizens' rights, persecute and silence any form of democratic opposition while giving away the wealth and sovereignty of the country to obtain the necessary international support to overcome its glaring illegitimacy. Colombian society and democracy are now facing a serious threat that comes from their own government.

We ask the Heads of State and the Parliaments of those countries that are negotiating or in the process of ratification of a Free Trade Agreement with the Colombian Government to stop these agreements that will only increase poverty, displacement, and violence in Colombia and will give President Uribe the support he's looking for to consolidate his authoritarian project.

Red Colombiana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio, Recalca
(Colombian Action Network in Response to Free Trade)

Translation Mingas-FTA / Traducción Mingas-TLC

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