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Colombia bucks Bolivarian trend with election of pro-US President Uribe

Issued by: Conservatives in the European Parliament

Brussels, 31 May 2006 -- Conservative group, visiting Colombia, heralds setback to Chavez populism - supports destruction of drug dealing terrorism. On an official visit to Colombia, Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, welcomed the re-election of conservative President Uribe on Sunday as a slap in the face both to FARC, the drug dealing terrorists, and the irresponsible populism of neighbouring Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Leading a group of centre right MEPs from Poland, Spain, Portugal and the UK which also included UK MEP Nirj Deva, the team monitored the election in Bogota.

Speaking immediately after the landslide results in which President Uribe became the first incumbent President to win a second term (with 62% of the vote), Charles Tannock said:

"President Uribe is brave and determined. He defeated the terrorism of cocaine barons and right wing paramilitary insurgents which plagued Colombia for 40 years.

He has disarmed and demobilised 30 000 AUC paramilitaries and set-up a programme of civilian reintegration and financial reparation to those victims of their crimes.

He has sent for possible trial under his Justice, Peace and Reparation law the top 2000 commanders who have given themselves up in exchange for reduced criminal sentences.

Despite his US friendship, President Uribe is supported by Fidel Castro who is now mediating between the Colombian government and ELN, the smaller ex Maoist and Catholic terrorist group, which are engaged with the peace dialogue.

Now in his second term, President Uribe challenges the dead end politics of Hugo Chavez by continuing his programme of economic reforms, promoting good trade and political relations with the EU and USA, including negotiating a Free Trade Agreement, and fighting poverty by establishing legal title for small rural land holders - turning the currently dispossessed into stakeholders in Colombia's growing economy."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

* Charles visited, in his capacity as Vice President of the Human Rights subCommittee, a UK funded home for sexually exploited street children.

* Charles and Nirj Deva visited the historic City of Cartagena where they were granted the Freedom of the City by the Mayor for supporting the democratic process in Colombia.

* Nirj Deva MEP discussed international development with Colombian Vice-President Santos.

For further information please contact:

Charles Tannock MEP, tel: +32 (0) 2 28 45870
charles.tannock@europarl.europa.eu
Charles Tannock MEP, tel: +32 (0) 2 28 45870



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