"President (Alvaro) Uribe has made MASSIVE progress," Brison said of the Colombian leader. "His administration has made a hugely positive difference in the lives of Colombians. [all-caps in-joke added]
"We can ignore them. We can isolate Colombia on ideological grounds. But that would be an extremely irresponsible position."
Here is a bit of the hugely positive difference Brison refers to:
- [F]requent extrajudicial killings of civilians attributed to the Colombian Army, which the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions recently described as "systematic." The Attorney General's Office is reported to be investigating cases involving more than 1,700 alleged victims in recent years. Uribe refuses to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem.
- Ongoing anti-union violence, with the offenders rarely brought to justice. Colombia has the highest rate of killings of trade union members and leaders in the world. More than 2,700 are reported to have been killed since 1986, according to data collected by the National Labor School (Escuela Nacional Sindical or ENS). The ENS recorded 49 such killings in 2008, up from 39 in 2007. It recorded 20 of these killings this year as of mid-June. Ninety-six percent of the killings remain unsolved.
- The increased activity of new armed groups linked to paramilitaries, despite their supposed demobilization. The new groups operate in a similar fashion as the old paramilitaries, engaging in threats, targeted killings, and forced displacement of civilians.
- Partly as a result, there has been a recent rise in certain abuses, including forced displacement. Last year, more than 380,000 persons were internally displaced. Violence in the city of Medellin has also shot up, largely due to the activities of new groups.