News Release

The Presidential Candidates and South America Tensions

ABC News reports: “Standing side by side in a show of solidarity, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Ecuador President Rafael Correa stood firm in their support of one another after days of accusations lobbed back and forth between the two countries and Colombia.”

JO ROSANO
Rosano is the mother of Marc Gonsalves, a Pentagon contractor who has been held prisoner by the Colombian group the FARC since 2003 following a plane crash. She said today: “[Colombian President Alvaro] Uribe keeps sabotaging efforts at getting my son and the other hostages out. … Uribe seems to be doing what the U.S. government wants him to do. You’d think that John McCain — he was a POW — would be trying to help. Whenever I’ve approached the presidential candidates, they tell me I’m not a constituent.”

MARIO MURILLO
Murillo is author of Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest, and Destabilization. He just wrote the piece “Colombia Guerrilla Leader’s Death: Diplomatic Distractions and the Consolidation of the Para-Military State.”

Murillo is an associate professor of communication at Hofstra University in New York, and host of “Wake Up Call” on WBAI Pacifica Radio. He is currently working on a book about Colombia’s indigenous movement and its community media strategies.
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ROBERT NAIMAN
Senior policy analyst and national coordinator at Just Foreign Policy, Naiman just wrote the piece “Obama Glosses Over Colombian Attack in Ecuador; Clinton Calls for Escalation Against Venezuela,” which states: “The Clinton and Obama forces have asked us to consider who we want answering the phone at the White House at 3 a.m. There is little need to speculate. We have a lot of evidence about how they will respond….”
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DEBORAH JAMES
Director of international programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, James said today: “Many are missing the main story regarding Uribe’s extraterritorial killing of FARC leader Raul Reyes this weekend. After two successful hostage releases achieved by President Chavez mediating with the FARC, and in the middle of a third that was understood to include the three Americans and the very sick Ingrid Betancourt, Uribe pulled the plug on the whole operation — just like he apparently did on Dec. 31 — but this time through an extreme measure of an illegal invasion of Ecuador’s territory to kill the chief negotiator, Raul Reyes.

“Uribe has practically destroyed the prospects that current negotiations could end in a timely release of hostages, and set back the process of achieving a humanitarian peace agreement that is vehemently desired by Colombians. If you’re serious about negotiating for anything, you don’t kill the negotiator. Foreign ministers of both France and Ecuador criticized the move as scuttling imminent hostage releases. The U.S. Southern Command will ‘neither confirm nor deny’ U.S. participation in the attack, which was roundly condemned this week by the Organization of American States for violating Ecuador’s sovereignty. Bush’s reaction, predictably, was to use the occasion to call for the passage of a ‘free trade’ agreement with Colombia.

“Candidates who are interested in distancing themselves from Bush’s failed foreign policy should look beyond the ‘anti-Chavez’ rhetoric to the facts: the U.S.’s main ally in the region, Uribe, just threw away the best chance of obtaining the negotiated release of three U.S. hostages, one former Colombian presidential candidate, and potentially dozens of Colombians, and of achieving any progress that might lead to an end of the four-decade-old conflict.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167