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2/20/03 - TERRORIST ATTACK IN COLOMBIA - 2003-02-21

The people of Colombia have been terrorized for over three decades by a group that calls itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The FARC has a long history of terrorist acts, including massacres, assassinations, kidnapping, and threats against government officials.

On February 7th, the FARC set off a car bomb with over two-hundred kilos of explosives in a parking garage under Bogota's exclusive Club El Nogal. A children's party and a wedding reception were among the events being held in the club at the time. The FARC attack killed thirty-five people and injured over one-hundred-sixty. "We will offer all appropriate assistance to the Colombian government," said President George W. Bush, "in bringing to justice the murderers responsible for this act."

The FARC is the most dangerous terrorist organization based in the Western hemisphere. In the words of President Bush, "The terrorists in Colombia have made their goals clear: to kill the aspirations of the Colombian people for a free, prosperous, and democratic state."

Colombia's President, Alvaro Uribe [AHL-vah-ro oo-REE-bay], has promised to defeat the FARC and the country's other narcotics-trafficking and terrorist organizations. To help him, the United States has provided more than one and a half billion dollars in aid to fund the social and economic development program known as Plan Colombia. The U.S. has indicted several members of the FARC terrorist group for murder, kidnapping, and trading illegal drugs for weapons. And the U.S. has provided funding and personnel to train Colombian counter-narcotics troops.

As President Bush said, "Terrorists attacked our country and hurt us. If they attack Colombia and hurt them, they're still equally as guilty as far as we're concerned. It doesn't matter who the victim is. The United States stands with the people of Colombia in their struggle against terror. I want to affirm our country's strong desire to help the Colombian government and the Colombian people prosper and live in freedom."