The Guardian July 31, 2002

Colombians expect situation to deteriorate

Colombians know that the situation will deteriorate even further 
following the election of Alvaro Uribe Velez, candidate of the ultra-right 
forces, to the presidency.

Uribe's policies include:

* opening negotiations with the paramilitaries as a first step to their 

* restrictions on democratic opposition and possible abolition of Congress;

* the creation of a one-million-strong armed vigilante group;

* doubling the size of the army;

* refusing to negotiate a peaceful solution with the guerilla movement;

* cutting already decimated health and education spending in favour of 
spending on war and internal repression.

The President-elect was appointed director of civil aviation in 1980, his 
department issued over 500 pilot licences and permission for five airstrips 
to individuals linked to drug trafficking.

In 1982, he was named mayor of Medellin after his father donated $300,000 
to the election campaign of President Betancourt. Uribe was removed from 
the position after only four months.

In 1986 he became a Senator and used his position to sabotage legislation 
that allowed for the extradition of drug traffickers to the US.

As an active neo-liberal, he introduced anti-union labour law and social 
security changes that have left the majority of Colombians without state 

In 1995, he became governor of Antioquia and was an instrumental public 
supporter of the CONVIVIR private security groups. These groups are 
universally recognised as legalised forms of paramilitarism.

Around 7000 unarmed civilians army-backed AUC paramilitary squads are 
massacred every year in Colombia.

There are over two million internal refugees, displaced by state-sponsored 
violence. All sections of the community are at risk  trade unionists, 
teachers, students, health workers, indigenous leaders, women's groups, 
human rights defenders, peasant farmer communities.

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