Obama, Uribe and the School of the Americas

July 1, 2008

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Not sure how long the “hope” machine will hold if Obama continues to be either tepid or Bush-like in his policies towards America Latina. Last night, I interviewed a woman who was crying as she described the torture, violence she her family and colleagues experienced at the hands Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, who Obama failed to condemn after the Colombian military violated the sovereignty of Ecuador. Earlier this week, I heard union-sponsored radio ads calling Uribe’s Colombia the “most dangerous country” for workers in the world because of the thousands of workers who’ve been disappeared, jailed, tortured or killed by government-sponsored paramilitary forces trained at places like the infamous School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

This NACLA piece about Obama and the School of the Americas by Nicolas Kosloff merits more attention and thought:


I’ve know more than a few people killed by people trained at the School of the Americas and find Obama’s tepid response to such a nefarious institution disappointing at best (see pic below of Salvadoran priests killed by paramilitaries-and militaries-trained at the School of the Americas).

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The accumulation of centrist and often dangerous mainstream positions we’re tacitly being asked to stay mum about now runneth over. Ignoring or enabling terrorists of the state kind inspires little real “hope” and actually merits a condemnation as forceful as that against those enabling terrorists who lack the officialist facade masking state violence. Obama must condemn state terrorists too.

If any of you on this list have his ear or that of his Latin America advisors from Center for American Progress, the Pentagon and other institutions I implore you to do the right thing, the moral thing, the smart thing and get Obama to differentiate himself as the “change” candidate who strikes out against the likes of Uribe and the School of the Americas.

14 Responses to “Obama, Uribe and the School of the Americas”

  1. […] Obama, Uribe and the School of the Americas at Of América. Not sure how long the “hope” machine will hold if Obama continues to be either tepid or Bush-like in his policies towards America Latina. Last night, I interviewed a woman who was crying as she described the torture, violence she her family and colleagues experienced at the hands Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, who Obama failed to condemn after the Colombian military violated the sovereignty of Ecuador. […]

  2. Simon O. Bolivar Says:

    So now that Uribe has raised his profile domestically, internationally, and in nearly every other way, how will Obama suddenly reject him? Realistically, your exhortations, though lofty and idealistic, fall on deaf ears.

    Besides, the SOA is WHISC now. Just FYI.


  3. robvato Says:

    Simon, if you read Latin American and European media, Uribe is not so popular and is, in fact, more suspect than in our Disneyfied media. And using “School of the Americas” means sticking with a known brand, a brand that signifies death and terror. And, BTW, it’s “WHINSEC” no “WHISC”. JUst FYI.

  4. Dean Gonzalez Says:

    Are all of you so blinded by your facist mentalities that you can’t see the nose in front of your face? Do any of you even speak Spanish to hear the fanatical ravings of leaders like Chavez? You are condemning Uribe who was the only Colombian leader to take back territory from the FARC (who are the only drug dealers). Uribe violated the sovereignty of Ecuador because Ecuador was harboring FARC terrorists, murderers and kidnappers. I have family that are Colombian and I have been to Colombia to see for myself the great changes he has made. He has made Colombia safe again and the people of Colombia love him for it. This is obviously a Chavez sponsored political dupe site for the ignorant. Your ignorance of Colombia and of justice sickens me. I know you won’t allow this message to be posted, because that is how communist suppressors of free thinking and democracy operate.

  5. robvato Says:

    It is done. I guess the long letter that Ken Burns, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote detailing the countless deaths at the hands of paramilitary death squads linked to Uribe and his family is nonsense. OK, Uribe really is the great guy George Bush tells us he is. R

  6. Dean Gonzalez Says:

    Robvato, the problem is, you have not followed Colombian politics/history, or been IN Colombia, or interviewed countless Colombians, in Spanish, to actually have a credible opinion. You HAVE to base your opinions on a paper published by Ken Burns who is ignoring the bigger picture. Under your logic, I guess Kennedy was a supporter of racism because there was flagrant racism in the United States when he was president. Wake up! The facts are that Uribe has disarmed much of the paramilitary forces by being the first president to offer them amnesty if they laid down their weapons and in return he offered re-integration work programs. The program has worked. Colombias crime rate is down under Uribe, not up. When I was in Colombia in 2007, is saw people stopping their cars in the streets next to the armed military guards/police officers that Uribe has put in nearly every major city. They stopped to shake the guards hands because, for the first time in decades, they actually feel safe walking the streets. Do you know of the bloodbath of the last 25 years that Uribe has taken the country out of? My wife had family members kidnapped by the FARC and taken into the jungle, extorted for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the FARC threatened to rape his 16 year old daughter, the FARC was so wired into the governments and banks that they stopped buses on highways, looked up each persons ID on laptops, examined bank accounts, and hauled those worthy of kidnapping away. Uribe is the first president to take back territory from the FARC (100% narco traffickers), they have tried to kill Uribe on multiple occassions. The FARC killed Uribe’s father while trying to kidnap him if you didn’t know that either. Here is a Reuters link you can read to educate yourself: http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSN24431609._CH_.2400
    I don’t have the space here to detail every reason you are wrong but we should be able to agree on at least the blatantly obvious. The FARC narcotraffickers have run the country and brought it the #1 in violent crime since the cocaine infested 1980’s. Uribe has warred against the FARC, heart, mind, body and soul, since he has been elected. The FARC is more crippled today than in the last 4-5 decades. Uribe just freed Ingrid Betancourt (held by the FARC since 2002), and other captives in an amazing rescue: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,318305,00.html
    If your number one concern is the killing and kidnapping of innocents then you should be applauding Uribe for taking on, and winning against, the most violent and brutal faction in all of Colombia. Just because George Busch is a fool, don’t blame Uribe for getting praise from him. Actually SPEAK to educated Columbians. Better yet, go to Colombia before opening your mouth. In the midst of graft and corruption as a norm, this has been the one leader to offer the Colombian people a ray of hope. You and Ken Burn’s “facts” remind me of my arguments with my history professors in college. They were white, in their 50’s/60’s, didn’t speak any Spanish, had never been to Cuba, but read to me from their history gospel that Fidel Castro, despite being a communist dictator, made nearly all of his country literate in only a few years, offered the people free education, etc. Real statistics just like those of Ken Burns. Half of my family is Cuban and were there during Castro’s poll taking for literacy. All you had to do was sign your name to prove literacy- and a symbol counted as a name too. The incredible statistic is a lie, my family and friends were there to see it first hand. And that “free education” statistic didn’t mention that school kids were forced to leave school to go out in the fields and farm every week to earn their “free education.” He asked me where I got my information and I said the Cuban girl sitting right next to me named Lydia who came over during the Mariel and had worked in those fields. The statistics are garbage, but they still exist in textbooks today. Please don’t try to be an expert where you are not. The poor people of Colombia are in the territories where drugs are grown. They do get caught in the middle of the Narcos and the Colombian Military. This is a country finally winning its own civil war against drugs. Should we have abandoned our own civil war because innocents were caught in our crossfire? We killed our own people, and you know what, as much as it sucked, it was the right thing to do. Take off your blinders and study the whole truth. I speak Spanish and have heard Uribe myself in at least a dozen speeches, most notably, the March 7th Summit of Latin American leaders where it became obvious to me just how scary insane Chavez really is, and how eloquent and sincere Urible is. Chavez’s number one cheerleader, by the way was Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. Uribe talked about the facts of his cross-border attack on FARC terrorists, proved that he had every reason for doing so. What did Chavez “the idiot” talk about- how beautiful Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner from Argentina was. Then he started talking about old conversations he had with Fidel Castro – in the middle of an international crisis? Now one of Chavez’s moneybag handlers just got caught trying to hand cash to Argentina in Miami. Are these the types of leaders you support? Most of the office I work in is from Venezuela, we also have a branch office in Venezuela. They all describe Chavez as the most insane leader they have ever seen in their lifetime. They are worried and we are worried for them. Is this the type of leader you support? I feel so frustrated that you really don’t get it, and that you are actually supporting what you hate when you oppose Uribe. There is this really nice, intelligent Christian I know who keeps pointing to Christian scientific evidence that the dinosaurs never existed, and that carbon dating is all wrong, and that the earth is really only a few hundred thousand years old. I start arguing about the fossils that I have held in my own hands and then I always end up stopping and let him go on because I see how pointless it is to argue with a person with such blinders on. I hope that you will take of your blinders some day soon. You have bypassed really searching for the truth because you saw a report that said something, you took it verbatim and started blogging. But, honestly dude, you haven’t got a clue.

  7. robvato Says:

    Thanks for visiting. Before anything, let clarify tha, unlike you, I don’t think that the opinion of filmmaker, Ken Burns, matters much when it comes to Colombia. I respectfully disagree with the picture of Colombia that you paint, as it is radically different from that of friends of mine who have suffered any number of atrocities at the hands of the Uribe government: kidnappings, murders, death squad attacks, rape and any number of human rights violations that are thoroughly documented by human rights institutions with impeccable credentials. So, you keep going to Ken Burns for your analysis and I’ll stick with groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. Good day to you, sir, R

  8. Dean Gonzalez Says:

    You are the one who sited Ken Burns in your October 21 post, not me. YOU said that Ken Burn’s letter was important, I did not. You are the one making uninformed generalizations. I went to Amnesty International’s website and chose Colombia from their drop down country list. They do not even have a presence in Colombia. I also keyword searched for Uribe from their homepage and got ZERO results!!! They did ask me for a donation though. Why don’t you actually post a link to some facts, a story, an event, SOMETHING backing up your absurd comments.

  9. robvato Says:

    Dean, you might want to learn how to spell before either coming to this site or conducting research on human rights. If you can’t find Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch or any of the numerous and powerful condemnations of the Uribe government on the internet, then you might want to forego your forays into rational and informed discourse and simply continue cheerleading for murderers, death squads and their sponsors, the Uribe government elsewhere. I’m sure you’ll be relieved of the burden of rationality by returning to the Fox television site or Sarah Palin rallies. You needn’t waste your time in the Land of the Literate. Good luck, R

  10. robvato Says:

    My article in New America Media references “Ken Roth’s” letter condemning Uribe’s human rights record, the worst in the hemisphere; so bad even Obama condemned the killings in Colombia during the last Presidential debate. Don’t usually respond this much, but sympathy for killers like. Uribe surpasses even the anti-immigrant screed iin terms of despicable and dangerous immorality of some like Dean, who must be condemned in the most direct terms. R

  11. Jeremy James Says:

    Your heart may be in the right place but you aren’t looking at colombia through the eyes of history. I have a degree in Latin American Studies and I met a lot of people who thought like you in college. Then I lived and worked in Mexico for 8 years and began to open my eyes. Alvaro Uribe is a close to an honest statesman as you will find in Latin America. He has brought an unprecedented level of security and stability to one of the most dangerous and violent countries in the Americas. Latin American politics is a very dirty business – he may have some blood on his hands but that’s because he is like a surgeon working on a patient that was dying when he showed up on the scene.
    If you want to see bloodshed just wait until the Venezuelans try to get rid of your brother Chavez. He and his friends Correa, Ortega and Morales all talk a good game as they turn their countries into bankrupt welfare states.
    My college professors gave me the idea that cuba was a decent country and the people were healthy and educated. I went there and it was like going to a human zoo. The island itself it the cage. Castro may be sheltering his people from bad American television but he doesn’t seem to mind renting his children for $10 a night to European and Canadian tourists. I went from living in the poorest state in Mexico to Cuba and I was shocked and how horrible it really is.
    The bottom line is that Latin American politics is very complicated and it takes years to understand. Trying to make Uribe out to be a bad guy in Colombia is absolutely rediculous. I agree with Dean that it is very irresponsible for people to be spreading misinformation about Colombia. Robvato you think like a schoolboy not a professor. Your misguided mix of ignorance and arrogance is just the kind of thinking that can lead to “despicable and dangerous immorality.” You can’t even tell the good guys from the bad guys.

    • robvato Says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jeremy. Your comments are nothing if not scary, especially this spin/statement in which you basically acknowledge
      in the nicest terms that Uribe is , in fact, the murderous thug credible human rights organizations around the world tell us he is:

      “he may have some blood on his hands but that’s because he is like a surgeon working on a patient that was dying when he showed up on the scene.”

      Chilling. Chilling the extent to which people can simply gloss over the deaths of thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) at the hands of Uribe -and the U.S.’ death squads in Colombia,
      something even Barack Obama felt compelled to mention during the 3rd debate with McCain, something thoroughly documented in thick reports by the
      United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to name but the best known of the global chorus of denunciation (see this post for some of the reports:

      Interesting to note that yourpost shines for the absence of ANY similar documentation of death, killing in Cuba, Venezuela or any other country you mention. That’s because you will not
      find it and, so, must resort to the kind of unsubstantiated, anecdotal and, quite frankly, inane, desperate and dangerous rants one finds on Fox or at the Latin America desk of the
      U.S. State Department, which somehow misses Uribe’s bloody mess, a mess even you and Barack Obama can’t ignore.

  12. TommyHolly Says:

    WAIT A SECOND… Uribe is a pretty good guy. President Uribe is the one that has been destroying the FARC while all the other countries around him have been helping narco-terrorists. It is obvious whoever wrote this article cares so much for left-wing politics that they are blind to all the good that Uribe has done since taking office.

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