The Clintons and Colombia

Hillary Clinton got rid of demoted her chief strategist, Mark Penn, after it was revealed that Penn was working for a free-trade agreement with Colombia that Clinton opposed. But the larger issue, I argue in my latest for the Guardian, is the Clintons’ longstanding ties to Colombian president Álvaro Uribe and their indifference toward his miserable human-rights record.

3 thoughts on “The Clintons and Colombia

  1. Anonymous

    Here’s a good source of links – Penn isn’t gone:salon.com/politics/war_room/2008/04/08/mark_penn/index.html

  2. Neil

    Well I agree with your basic point that Penn’s firing (or pretend firing) is less interesting than the question of whether we should be supporting Uribe. In fact after about four days it’s already old news. No scandal, alas. I don’t get the point of calling the Clintons (again, with the conflation) “cynics, practitioners of realpolitik…”. As if it were a bad thing? Hasn’t eight years of fantasipolitik been enough? (Cf: they’ll greet us as liberators. And everybody will get a pony!) This is the world we live in and we don’t have the resources, even if we had the right, to change it very much. Especially in South America where our disapproval has led to interventionism. Dems shouldn’t merely be the mirror image of Repubs, undermining governments based on some notion of their ideology rather than say, their popular support.Now nanny Hillary is urging President Bush to do more Gore-snubs-Uribe-style shunning, this time of the Olympics, to protest China’s human rights record. Bill Clinton last year on the other hand advised Steven Spielberg to participate in the Olympic opening ceremony, so that he could be “an effective agent for positive change by working with China.” The point being it’s lazy to use terms like “the Clinton organization”, as if the former Clinton administration’s record, or Bill’s political tendencies, are identical with Hillary’s on any given subject. Both of those approaches can’t be realpolitik.Meanwhile Edward Schumacher-Matos, ex of the Patriot Ledger, has op-eds in the NYT and Globe warning about those death-of-civil-rights-workers statistics. A couple of pertinent quotes:All sides agree that the killings are dramatically down, and no one accuses the government of orchestrating them. By the unions’ own count, the killings dropped from a high of 275 in 1996 to 39 last year. The government says 26.And:Those groups, however, rely on Colombian unions for their numbers, instead of collecting their own. The number of convictions now being won in the union’s own cases reveals that perhaps one-fifth, and almost certainly less than half, of the killings had to do with unionism.Here’s Schumacher-Matos’ bio. He’s also oh my god, an ombudsman!

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