Friday, April 16, 2010

Colombia : "A model for the region"

Presser from the US Dept. of Defense today :

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates offered high praise to Colombia today as an "exporter of security" that, by sharing lessons learned in its crackdown against a leftist insurgency and drug-trafficking cartels, provides a model for the region.

Gates commended Colombia for sharing its knowledge and skills in ounterinsurgency, law enforcement and anti-kidnapping training. “We believe these efforts are enhancing stability in the Americas,” he said.

Yes it's quite the model. The UN's Rapporteur on Indigenous People is urgently calling for a report on Colombia from the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, due to the increasing number of murders of indigenous people by paramilitary groups attached to the government. Colombia's population of internally displaced persons (3 million as of 2008) is second only to that of Sudan.
On the up side, in 2009 only 45 trade unionists were killed.
Gates also acknowledged Colombia’s role as an exporter of security beyond its immediate neighborhood, noting its plans to send troops to Afghanistan to support operations there.
“The United States is committed to provide the support necessary to help expedite this deployment,” he said
The US operates seven of Colombia's military bases, so that shouldn't be much of a problem.
The U.S.-Colombian Defense Cooperation Agreement formalized the military-to-military relationship between the two countries to better address narcotics production and trafficking, terrorism, illicit smuggling and humanitarian and natural disasters.
Gates called the agreements “an important step forward” and said he hopes people come to realize they are focused only on promoting bilateral security relationships, not in providing a venue for the United States to interfere in other countries’ matters.
Venezuela immediately announced plans to purchase five billion dollars worth of Russian weapons.
The secretary said his talks here also extended to the importance of a getting a free trade agreement ratified, noting that he talked with National Security Advisor James L. Jones Jr. before his trip here about renewing that effort.
Because reopening any discussion of a free trade agreement naturally originates with the Defense Dept and the National Security Advisor.
“Colombia’s hard-won freedom from violence can be sustained only through economic prosperity,” he wrote.
The kind of economic prosperity that includes flooding the Colombian market with subsidized US agribix products. Remind me, how did that work out for Mexico?
Gates said a trade promotion agreement would establish a commitment to open markets that would increase this essential growth and investment in Colombia.
“To achieve lasting peace and stability, Colombia must have more foreign investment and free trade,” Gates wrote.
Well I guess we have our marching orders then.

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