Open Letter of Members of the European Parliament to Alvaro Uribe, President of Colombia

Subject:

Accusations, repression, espionage and intimidation directed at members of the opposition in Colombia.

Doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Bogota
Colombia

Strasbourg
Wednesday 25th April, 2007

Subject: Accusations, repression, espionage and intimidation directed at members of the opposition in Colombia.

Mr. President:

We have learnt with great concern, shock and indignation that members of opposition parties, in particular of the Polo Democratico Alternativo, are victims of accusations, intimidation, espionage and repression whilst they try to carry out their party activities.

It is widely known at an international level that the members of the Polo Democrático Alternativo Party carry out important work aimed at achieving democracy in Colombia, which has allowed them, amongst other things, to publicly denounce the links between the paramilitary groups and high level Government officials and with parliamentary members of the majority in the Congress. Just a few days ago, Senator Gustavo Petro denounced, based on sound evidence, the creation and growth of the so-called ’security cooperatives‘ in Antioquia Department, and the fact that many of these cooperatives were and still are involved in drugs trafficking.

On Tuesday 24th April, a state attorney tried to carry out an illegal raid on Senator Gustavo Petro’s office, in the Congress building. Three days ago, the Senator’s brothers and mother received death threats.

On Monday 23rd April, the community leader, single mother and leading member of the Polo Democrático Alternativo Party, Yudith Astrid Vergara Correa was assassinated on a public bus in Medellin. A year ago, Jaime Gomez, the assistant of opposition Senator, Piedad Cordoba was forcibly disappeared and later found assassinated in still unclear circumstances.

It surprised us that in your speech last Friday, in reference to former Presidential candidate Al Gore’s refusal to attend a meeting in Miami, you, Mr. President, confirmed that you had received information from the state intelligence services about members of Colombia’s opposition and their legitimate activities opposing the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and United States. We have seen the reaction to this of ex-President and President of the Liberal party, Cesar Gaviria, calling for the investigation of any possible espionage directed at the opposition and of President of the Polo Democratico Alternativo Party, Carlos Gaviria who said „an opinion that doesn’t coincide with the official opinion is considered a crime by President Uribe.“

It is in this context that we are alarmed to hear that just a few weeks ago you publicly accused members of the political opposition as being „guerrillas dressed up as civilians“, this, in a country where this type of accusation has cost the lives of thousands of Colombians over more than 40 years of armed conflict. Similar accusations have been made by Vice-President Santos directed at Dr. Carlos Gaviria, for which he later apologised.

Mr. President, we are extremely concerned about this serious series of events which aim to stop the democratisation of political activity in Colombia, including the ceasing of using violence as a political activity. The genocide carried out against members of the Patriotic Union Party which prolonged the cycle of violence in Colombia is very present in our memories.

We appeal to you in your position as President that the presidency encourages the right for all Colombians to carry out political activity and have differing opinions in a democratic environment.

We express our total solidarity with all Colombians and their right for peace and defense of human rights.

– Luisa Morgantini, Vice-presidente del Parlamento Europeo, GUE/NGL, Italia

– Alain Lipietz, Presidente de la delegación del Parlamento europeo para las relaciones con la Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Verts/ALE- Francia

– Ana Maria Gomes, Vice-presidente de la sub-comisión de seguridad y defensa del Parlamento europeo, PSE- Portugal,

– Richard Howitt, vice-presidente de la Sub-Comisión de derechos humanos del Parlamento europeo, PSE- Reino Unido

– Giusto Catania, Vice-presidente de la Comisión de libertades civiles justicia y asuntos internos, GUE/NGL -Italia

– Willy Meyer-Pleite,Vice-presidente de la Asamblea parlamentaria EUROLAT, GUE/NGL España

– Raul Romeva, Vice-presidente de la Comisión para los derechos de las muieres y la igualdad de oportunidades, Verts/ALE – España

– Jens Holm, diputado europeo, GUE/NGL – Suecia

– Maria Sornosa, diputada europea, PSE – España

– Vittorio Agnoletto, diputado europeo, GUE/NGL – Italia

– Caroline Lucas, diputada europea, Verts/ALE -Reino Unido,

– Josu Ortuondo Larrea, diputado europeo, ALDE, España

cc:
– Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de la República Federal de Alemania y Presidente en ejercicio del Consejo de la Unión Europea.
– Dª. Benita Ferrero?Waldner, Comisaria de Relaciones Exteriores y Política de Vecindad.