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 legalisation; * 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 support. 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.