Archive for the ‘Columbia’ Category

Cocaine Blocks Free Trade

November 13, 2008

The expanding cocaine trade in Colombia is undermining President George W. Bush’s effort to push through a free-trade agreement with his southern neighbor.  Despite opposition from Democracts, Bush is trying to seal a deal before he leaves office in January by hitching it to a bailout for U.S. automakers. Álvaro Uribe, the Colombian president, has argued that free trade would produce jobs in Colombia that would provide alternatives to the illegal drug trade. With the global economy in the cellar, that argument has lost much of its luster.

Now it appears the cocaine business is stronger than previously thought. As the United States was pouring $5 billion into Colombia to fight drugs over the past eight years, particularly cocaine, the country’s drug cartels were finding new routes through West Africa and shipping their wares to expanding markets in Europe, Africa, and South America. The U.S. General Accounting Office reported last week that instead of reducing the cultivation and production of drugs by 50 percent, the stated goal of the U.S.-funded Plan Colombia, Uribe has presided over an increase in coca cultivation of 15 percent and an increase in cocaine production of 4 percent. 

The report was ordered by Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, meaning President-elect Barack Obama, one of the main barriers to the free trade deal, probably took note.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, center, gestures, during ... 

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe, center, gestures, during a graduation ceremony for new police officers in Bogota, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. At left is Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, at right, the commander of Army Forces Gen. Freddy Padilla.(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

From Newsweek

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The Latin Crisis

March 24, 2008

By Kay Bailey Hutchison
The Washington Times
March 24, 2008

This month Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened the next phase of his dangerous political career by nearly provoking a war with Colombia. In the aftermath of his military threats, the Colombian government learned disturbing information about the relationship between Mr. Chavez and the terrorist group FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chavez called President Bush
“El Diablo” or the devil while addressing
the United Nations….

In light of those revelations, and their implications for U.S. national security, perhaps it is time the Bush administration placed Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On March 1, the Colombian military retaliated against numerous unprovoked FARC attacks in their territory and struck one of their clandestine camps — in Ecuador, killing one of the organization’s top leaders. FARC, a formerly Soviet-backed insurgency, today makes a living off international kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorism. It still holds hundreds of hostages for ransom, including American missionaries and a former Colombian presidential candidate. It has been designated as one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations by the State Department.
In the days after the raid, Colombia uncovered e-mails in which FARC operatives reported, after meeting with Mr. Chavez, that significant financial support and even munitions would be forthcoming from the Chavez government. Evidence suggests Venezuela may have provided as much as $300 million to FARC since Mr. Chavez came to power.
If indeed Venezuela has provided money, weapons and other logistical or diplomatic support to FARC, it is guilty of supporting terrorism, a grievous violation of international law. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the obligation of all states to refrain from assisting terrorists or tolerating their presence inside the country. The United States does not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them and support them — and neither should any of our allies.
Venezuela must now be held accountable for its descent into a terrorist haven, and Ecuador should not protest when free countries, like Colombia, step across boundaries to protect innocent lives from plotting terrorists. On March 17, when the Organization of American States held its summit in Washington, it missed an opportunity to take a strong stand against terrorism and instead passed a resolution condemning Colombia’s actions in self-defense.
While imposing additional sanctions on Venezuela could cause adverse short-term economic consequences, Mr. Chavez needs us more than we need him. Venezuelan oil has an extremely high-sulfur content, which requires special refineries to turn it into gasoline. Most of those refineries are in the Southern U.S. along the Gulf Coast. In short, Venezuela would have a very hard time finding other buyers if it loses its most important customer.
And with the increased willingness of Venezuela’s military to stand up to Mr. Chavez — not to mention his sinking popularity among the public — the United States is one customer Mr. Chavez can’t afford to lose.

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Shuttle Endeavour set to launch Japan lab to space station

March 10, 2008
by Jean-Louis Santini

WASHINGTON (AFP) – When space shuttle Endeavour launches Tuesday it will carry Japan‘s first space lab to the International Space Station, giving the country a prized spot alongside the United States, Russia and Europe.

This illustration provided by The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) ...
This illustration provided by The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) displays ‘Dextre’ (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator). Astronauts bound for orbit this week will dabble in science fiction, assembling a ‘monstrous’ two-armed space station robot that will rise like Frankenstein from its transport bed. Putting together Dextre, the robot, will be one of the main jobs for the seven Endeavour astronauts, who are scheduled to blast off in the wee hours of Tuesday, March 11, 2008, less than three weeks after the last shuttle flight.(AP Photo/Canadian Space Agency)

With meteorologists reporting 90 percent favorable conditions for liftoff, Endeavour is set to launch at 2:28 am (0628 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The crew of seven, including Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, has already assembled there for the 16-day mission.

A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration.

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi of Japan ... 
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi of Japan arrives with the crew of space shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, March 8, 2008. Endeavour is on schedule to launch March 11.(AP Photo/Terry Renna) 

Venezuela says mobilizes forces to Colombia border

March 5, 2008
By Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela said it deployed tanks and air and sea forces toward the Colombian border on Wednesday in its first major military mobilization of a crisis raising fears for regional stability.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks to supporters during ...
Venezuala’s Hugo ChavezThe action escalated tensions over Colombia‘s weekend raid inside another South American neighbor, Ecuador, to kill rebels in an operation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an ally of leftist Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, says could spark war.

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War Drums in Latin America

March 4, 2008
Time Magazine 

Few world leaders rattle a saber as flamboyantly as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does.

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
Hugo Chávez

On Sunday, in a piece of vintage Chavez theater, he ordered thousands of troops and tanks to the border with Colombia after that country’s military had ventured a mile into Ecuador on Saturday to kill Raul Reyes, a top commander of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas.
The left-wing Chavez called conservative Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a “criminal” and a “lapdog of the U.S. empire,” warning ominously that “this could be the start of a war in South America.”

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Tough US welcome for Iran’s Ahmadinejad

September 24, 2007

By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the stage at Columbia University on Monday to a blistering reception from the president of the school, who said the hard-line leader behaved like “a petty and cruel dictator.”

Ahmadinejad smiled as Columbia President Lee Bollinger took him to task over Iran’s human-rights record and foreign policy, and Ahmadinejad’s statements denying the Holocaust and calling for the disappearance of Israel.

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Iran and U.S. Headed Toward War?

September 24, 2007

y KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer NEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in New York to protests Sunday and said in a television interview that Iran was neither building a nuclear bomb nor headed to war with the United States.

The president’s motorcade pulled up to the midtown hotel where he will be staying while he appears at a series of events including the U.N. General Assembly and a forum at Columbia University, where about 40 elected officials and civic leaders decried his visit.

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Columbia Welcomes Ahmadinejad; Vatican “No” to U.S. SecState; Mattel Apologizes to China and San Diego Chargers Owe Everyone an Apology

Ahmadinejad in America: An Editorial

September 24, 2007

The Washington Times
September 24, 2007

Not since the days of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich has a head of state spoken as openly about the destruction of Jewish people and his contempt for the Western democracies and international law as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On Saturday, as Mr. Ahmadinejad prepared to fly to New York and address the U.N. Security Council, he once again displayed his “peaceful” intentions at a military rally in Tehran. The Iranian government put on display for the first time a new long-range missile called the Ghadr-1 (Power-1), which it said had a range of more than 1,100 miles — enough to put in range, Israel, the nation Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly vowed to destroy, as well as hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and other Americans working in the region.

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