Colombian embassy: picket Uribe Velez

Submitted by on 16 July, 2002 - 12:27

URIBE VELEZ VISITS LONDON 15-17 July

With details of Uribe's visit emerging, we have had to change plans.

a) Most importantly, Uribe will hold a press conference at the Colombian
Embassy at 6pm on Tuesday 16th.
As a result the planned picket opposite Downing Street 6-8pm Tuesday HAS BEEN CHANGED to: 5.30pm onwards opposite the Colombian Embassy, 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge (back of Harrods), London SW1
b) Other Uribe engagements:
Breakfast at Canning House Tuesday 16th July
Campaign picket from 8.30am, Canning House, 2 Belgrave Square, LondonSW1X 8PJ

Coffee with MPs 11.30am in Parliament
Lunch with British and Colombian Chamber of Commerce
12.30pm Carlton Tower, on Cadogan Place, London SW1

c) Uribe is due to meet Tony Blair at 10am on Wednesday 17th July.JUST SAY NO
NO to Narco Trafficking
NO to Paramilitary Deathsquads
NO to State Terror
NO to Human Rights Violations
NO to meeting Álvaro Uribe Vélez

The Colombian people suffer the worst human rights violations in the western hemisphere. Army backed AUC paramilitary death squads have unleashed a dirty war against the Colombian people, massacring about 7,000 unarmed civilians every year. There are over 2 million internal refugees, displaced by state sponsored violence.

All sections of the community are at risk; trade unionists, students, teachers, health workers, indigenous and black leaders, women's groups, human rights defenders and peasant farmer communities have all been declared legitimate military targets of this state sponsored terrorism.

Colombians know that this terrifying situation will deteriorate following the election of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, candidate of the ultra right, to the Presidency.

Carlos Castaño, leader of the AUC describes Uribe as "the man closest to our philosophy". No wonder, Uribe's policies include:

· Opening negotiations with the paramilitaries as a first step to their legalisation
· Restrictions on democratic opposition and possible abolition of Congress
· The creation of a 1 million strong armed vigilante group
· The doubling of the size of the army
· Refusing to negotiate a peaceful solution with the guerrilla movements
· Cutting already decimated health and education spending in favour of spending on war and internal repression.

Uribe's election victory was described as a landslide, but taking into account that 55% of registered voters abstained, the million spoilt
votes, and the millions more disenfranchised through forced displacement, no more than one in five Colombians actually voted for Uribe.

Governments in North America and Europe say that they must deal with him, as the democratically elected President of Colombia, but can the Colombian system really claim to be democratic?

Recent history shows us that candidates and even entire parties who truly represent the aspirations of the majority are systematically assassinated. Right or wrong, the vast majority of Colombians choose to abstain, because they see voting as giving a legitimacy to elections which they regard as wholly illegitimate and undemocratic.

For these reasons, in the name of democracy and peace, we call on Tony Blair to just say no to Álvaro Uribe Vélez. When Uribe comes to Europe looking for funds and co-operation supposedly to fight drugs and terror, we urge them to look at his past and his well documented links with drug trafficking and paramilitary terrorism.

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