Uribe Reminds The G-8 That Drug Trafficking Continues To Be A Shared Problem

Uribe Reminds The G-8 That Drug Trafficking Continues To Be A Shared Problem

By Geraldine Cook
June 29, 2010

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Drug trafficking has ceased to be a problem limited to consumers and producers, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe declared at the G-8 summit, at which U.S. president Barack Obama assured him that the pending U.S.-Colombian free-trade agreement will be ratified.

Drug trafficking has ceased to be a problem limited to consumers and producers, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe declared at the G-8 summit, at which U.S. president Barack Obama assured him that the pending U.S.-Colombian free-trade agreement will be ratified.

“The old division between producer countries and consumer countries no longer applies. We have 300,000 addicts in Colombia today. The developed countries, the traditional consumers, also have serious production problems,” Uribe explained to the leaders, as he assured the press following his invitation to the summit of rich countries (the G-8), held this year in Huntsville (Canada).

In one of his last international appearances before leaving office, Uribe wanted to send two concrete messages to world leaders: drug trafficking affects everyone, and the FARC, a Marxist guerrilla group, should continue to be considered a terrorist group.

“The risk here is for everyone, at all stages. I believe that this is a thesis that is beginning to be well received,” Uribe said in reference to drug trafficking.

Uribe, who held bilateral meetings with Obama, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and other leaders, explained that he intervened in the larger forum on two occasions.

“I expressly asked the European Union, the United States, and Canada to continue to list these groups as terrorists,” he went on to add, referring to the FARC.

Uribe confirmed that he spoke with Sarkozy personally about the case of Rodrigo Granda, a guerrilla leader whom Uribe released from prison in 2007 at the French president’s request.

Uribe, who was also invited to a G-8 meeting in 2007, wanted to deliver a summary of the accomplishments of his administration, which is leaving office with high popularity and with the election of his successor, former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, who has promised to continue Uribe’s policies.

When he said a personal goodbye to Obama, the U.S. president was “very expressive” in promising that the free-trade agreement between their two countries would move forward quickly, Uribe affirmed.

The free-trade agreement between the United States and Colombia, negotiated in 2006, was ratified by the Colombian Congress the following year but is still waiting for a green light from the U.S. Congress.

Obama “was expressive, determined, friendly,” Uribe affirmed.

Congressional Democrats, members of Obama’s party, continue to hold up the ratification of the free-trade agreement on account of human-rights violations and violations of labor-union rights in Colombia.

Uribe reminded the G-8 leaders that the International Labour Organization (ILO) has removed Colombia from its “blacklist.”

The Colombian president went on to affirm that U.S. Under-Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sánchez, during his recent visit to Bogotá, promised him a “first installment” of the free-trade agreement.

“Francisco (Sánchez) told me that they were going to give us a first installment. I told him, ‘Get started.’ We’re waiting to see what it’s going to be,” Uribe explained.

Sánchez visited Uribe in Bogotá on Thursday, as part of a trip to Colombia and Peru.

Nevertheless, Uribe did not explain what he meant by a “first installment” of a treaty already negotiated as a single package by the two countries.

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