Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Colombia - Haven for Tourists, or Terrorists?

The latest reports suggest that officers of the Colombian army have been accused of placing car bombs around the capital city. Apparently, the motivation for the placement of these bombs was to receive reward money of up to $400,000 for information on Marxist rebels. This is just one example in a long list of corruption by the military in Colombia.

It has also come to light that ten policeman who were killed in a so-called 'friendly fire' incident, were actually killed by members of the army. The policemen, and an informant, were found with their bodies riddled with 150 bullets. It was later discovered that they had been shot at point blank range and that the policemen had 'begged for their lives'.

All this comes at a time when the Colombian government are trying to present the country as a safe place to visit by tourists, despite the reality that it is home to some of the most disturbing human rights abuses in the region, if not the world. Trade union members have long been targeted by death squads in the country and human rights workers have also suffered arrest and intimidation at the hands of the Colombian government. Furthermore, as I have previously noted, according to some estimates, 164 trade unionists have been murdered or 'disappeared' in the last two years.

The presidency of Uribe is deeply flawed as he continues to encourage a tourist trade for Colombia. His fumigation policies have displaced hundreds and caused long-term genetic defects (the spray that is used, Roundup, is produced by Monsanto - the lovers of GM crops) and he has overturned the constitution to allow him to serve another four year term (something the anti-Chavez brigade use as proof of Venezuela's anti-democratic tendencies). There is no doubt that Colombia is not a place that any tourist should seriously consider as a holiday destination. It is dubious both in terms of personal safety and in terms of ethics.

For more info: Amnesty International, Organic Consumers Association, Killer Coke