Prince Reaffirms Spain’s Support of Colombia in the Fight Against Terror
By Dialogo May 29, 2009(Updated with statements by Álvaro Uribe, the President of Colombia) Bogota, 27 may (EFE). - Today the Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbón, reiterated to Colombia "the firm and direct support of Spain in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, and in favor of stronger democratic values." That night the Princes of Asturias attended a dinner at the Palace of Nariño offered in their honor by the President of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, and his wife, Lina Moreno, with representatives of various social sectors of the host country. This was the third time within the first 24 hours of his first official visit to Colombia with his wife, Doña Letizia, that the Prince condemned terrorism. The firm rejection today coincided with the 45th anniversary of the birth of the guerrilla organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which recently has been undermined by the government’s counterattack and by desertions. Don Felipe discussed the democratic tradition in Colombia, and also the fact that in 1853 male suffrage was adopted and for the first time the enfranchisement of women was recognized. The heir to the Spanish crown claimed that, at the international level, the upcoming participation of Colombia in the peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan is highly valued. Finally he said that the Andean country was his first destination in 1993 when he traveled outside of Spain as Prince of Asturias on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the founding of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia). The Colombian President said that compensation for victims of terrorism will be implemented, and that the $100 million dedicated to that fund will reach about 12,000 people. The President thanked the King and the Prince for ensuring that different Spanish governments have the same policy of support for Colombia. Uribe defended the independence of the different branches of his country and assured that monitoring bodies are the result of the public opinion in a democracy. He also said that Colombia is working to achieve social policies for all Colombians and political liberties and investment, but the latter is affected by terrorism, and therefore it is not easy to combat poverty. However, he said that Colombia has experienced great advances in education and health, although housing is still a problem. Before dinner, the Prince visited the Capitol, where they were greeted by the president of the Senate, Hernán Andrade, and of the House of Representatives, Germán Varón. The heir to the Spanish crown spoke to congressmen and senators to state that experience demonstrated that "efficient, and therefore more transparent public institutions together with the strengthening of the rule of law," and the defense of freedom and human rights, are the "right path." Prince Felipe also spoke of terrorism in Spain and emphasized the support that victims and their families around the world need, and the need for societies to condemn and reject terror. The Prince stressed that the commitment of Spain to the Latin American Community of Nations is reflected with particular intensity in the parliamentary area, which expresses ties of friendship, exchanges, and cooperation. At least one third of the 102 Colombian senators and 160 Colombian congressmen have been prosecuted for their alleged links with paramilitary groups and the drug traffickers who work with them. Tomorrow, the Prince and Uribe opened the second Spanish-Colombian investment forum, and Prince Felipe and Doña Letizia will receive an audience with the commission on the Bicentennial of the Ibero-American Independence, and also have lunch with Colombian intellectuals.