Union, community activists protest Colombian president’s D.C. visit

Crystal Kim at DC demo against Uribe visit, Sept. 19, 2008
Crystal Kim, PSL candidate for
the Council of the District of

Over 150 union and community activists protested in downtown Washington, D.C., outside of an event featuring right-wing Colombian President ?lvaro Uribe.

Uribe was at the National Press Club on Friday, Sept. 19 to speak in support of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. The free-trade deal between the Colombian and U.S. governments was first signed two years ago. It was renegotiated last year, but it has yet to be approved by Congress.

Major unions, including the Teamsters and the union federation Change to Win, as well as numerous community organizations mobilized for the protest. Signs included “Bush and Uribe are the Real Terrorists,” “Uribe, Facista, Usted Es Terrorista,” “No to U.S.-Colombia Trade Deal,” “One Murdered Unionist is One Too Many,” and “Latin American is Not for Sale.”

Teamsters at demo against Uribe visit in DC, Sept. 19, 2008
Teamsters demonstrate against
Colombian President ?lvaro Uribe,
Washington, D.C., Sept. 19.
The following day, at a Rose Garden press conference, President George W. Bush called Colombia “one of our closest allies.” The Bush administration, following the course of prior administrations, has armed and financed the death-squad government headed by Uribe. Colombia has been a reliable outpost for U.S. imperialism since the 1940s.

Uribe is leading a U.S.-backed campaign against the Marxist revolutionary forces of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in a country where trade unionists and peasant leaders continue to be gunned down in record numbers. Colombia was the recipient of $5 billion in aid from the United States between 2000 and 2006, of which 80 percent was military aid.

For Washington, the strategic value of Colombia has been magnified by the unfolding revolutionary process in neighboring Venezuela and its influence in the region. Rolling back the gains of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela remains a central goal of U.S. policy in Latin America.

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