miércoles, 18 de julio de 2007

Bush Visits Colombia

There were violent clashes between students and police days before the arrival of Bush in Bogota on March 10th. The capital underwent a massive security operation including an aerial lockdown and major road closures for the presidents 5 hour visit. The protests on the day were extensive but there was no terrorist incident as many had expected (see photos)

The visit comes in troubled times for President Uribe as the parapolitica scandle rumbles on relentlessly. The affair sees the uncovering of links between the Government and paramilitary narco-trafficking, hostage taking, violence and electoral fraud. Entire departments have been left without representation in the Senate and Congress. DAS Gate was the title of last weeks Semana magazine, referring to the implication of the ex-director of the secret service - DAS. Indeed 8 of Uribes closest men in public life are now behind bars making this the biggest crisis of his presidency.

Coming during the process of paramilitary demobilisation, the scandal has also damaged the Governments legitimacy abroad. Foreign Minister, Maria Consuelo Araujo, has stood down amid the involvement of her father and brother. Her surprise replacement is Fernando Araujo (no relation) who has only recently escaped from the FARC after 6 year of captivity. When he was captured he was Minister of Development under President Pastrana. He himself has admitted that his knowledge of current affairs is limited. One of his first acts as Canciller has been to denounce a satirical cartoon animation appearing in the Amnesty International US website. The cartoon ridicules the current process of paramilitary demobilization.

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