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NEWS: Colombia president to attend G8 summit in Huntsville

The Globe and Mail reports that there will be an “outreach” session at the G8 summit in Huntsville on June 25. Ten countries will attend this session including: Jamaica, Haiti, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and notably Colombia.

Yes, Colombia’s outgoing president Alvaro Uribe will be at the G8 summit in Huntsville.

Why? According to this report and statements from the Harper government, Mr. Uribe will offer his advice on how to deal with security threats while promoting democratic governance and human rights.

“The three from the Americas (Colombia, Jamaica and Haiti) have been invited primarily for talks over a pledge of G8 help to poorer nations to deal with security threats such as terrorism and organized crime, with experts, training and funds – including help to patrol waters in Latin America and the Caribbean. ‘These countries were invited because they’ve worked hard to combat security challenges and promote the fundamental underpinnings of democratic governance including the rule of law and human rights,’ said Mr. Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas.”

In a letter to all Members of Parliament in late-May, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow expressed her opposition to the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, which was passed by the House of Commons yesterday in a 188-79 vote. Barlow wrote, “The human rights atrocities committed in Colombia are well known throughout the world. Recent UN and Amnesty International reports show escalating violence against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including murder and forcible displacement from communal lands. The National Labour School of Colombia accounted for the murders of 45 trade unionists in 2009. These accounts, and unacceptably high impunity rates, have been enough to stall and even stop similar free trade agreements in allied countries, including the United States.”

The killing of labour activists and widespread human rights violations in Colombia should not be allowed to be presented by the Harper and Uribe governments as a lesson in how to promote democratic governance around the world. The Harper government has highlighted that the promotion of free trade will be a priority of the G8 summit. Mr. Harper should not be providing Mr. Uribe with a world stage to promote his pitch for free trade with Colombia to the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the European Union.

Join our call to ‘scrap the summits’ at http://canadians.org/action/2010/scrap-summit.html.