It's U.S. Supported Colombia's Uribe Who Sounds like the Latin American Dictator
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Editor's Note: This originally appeared on AlterNet's blog, PEEK.
If you read the Washington Post as religiously as I do, you probably have a pretty good grasp of the taxonomy of Latin American leaders.
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a brutal dictator whose crimes include saying mean things about George W. Bush, sponsoring leftist terror groups, using Venezuela's oil revenues to sway elections in the region and, perhaps most egregious of all, banning the Simpsons! Oh, and winning a bunch of elections.
He's followed by evo Morales, who is a walking, talking race card and just won't let bygones be bygones when it comes to Bolivia's traditional elites -- those friendly light-skinned plutocrats who own all the land. He's a dictator too.
Then there are "moderates" like Chile's Michelle Bachelet. She might call herself a socialist, but Chile's into "free trade" and has a privatized Social Security system from the Pinochet era, so, meh.
Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, of course, is a close Washington ally, a recipient of massive amounts of U.S. security assistance and is widely regarded as a beacon of democracy. Yes, he's a former narco-terrorist who was a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar, and, yes, labor leaders and protest organizers are routinely assassinated in Colombia. And, sure, Uribe's cousin and close confidant was arrested last week for his ties to right-wing terrorist groups -- joining "More than 30 current or former members of Congress, the vast majority allies of the president, [who] have been arrested for allegedly backing and benefiting from the illegal right-wing bands" -- and, OK, now there are allegations that Uribe himself might have had a hand in the assassinations of 15 lefties in the 1990s.
But he's a bulwark of democracy, dammit, and we have to sign a trade deal with him before those socialists ban The Family Guy.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.