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4/3/04 - STANDING FIRM AGAINST TERRORISM - 2004-04-05


This is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

For over three decades, the Colombian people have been plagued by leftist guerrillas, right-wing death squads, and powerful drug cartels, all of which have resorted to terrorism to pursue their goals. Their tactics have included massacres, assassinations, and kidnappings.

Colombians know that terrorism can threaten the fabric of a nation’s social and political life. That is, no doubt, why Colombia has become one of the staunchest allies in the war against global terrorism. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe says Colombians understand all too well that no democratic government can condone terrorism:

"The greatest enemy of democracy nowadays is terrorism. Terrorism is a new version of dictatorship. It strikes the people. It abolishes freedoms. It disregards the law. It does not matter [care about] the constitution. Terrorism speaks about political ideas, but it is just an excuse to try to explain its activities of terror."

Under President Uribe’s leadership, Colombians are working to protect human rights and the rule of law. They are offering alternatives to those who previously had chosen to grow drug-related crops like coca to make a living. They are making clear that growing and processing illegal crops are not legitimate employment options. They are mobilizing more of their resources for the fight against terrorism.

Those efforts have yielded results. In the past two years, Colombia has recorded dramatic decreases in killings and kidnappings, as well as sharp cuts in the production of coca leaf, which is used to make cocaine. U.S.-supported economic and social development programs are helping Colombians to rebuild infrastructure and provide secure, improved lives for former coca growers.

"Security”, says President Uribe, “is a democratic value. It is impossible,” he said, “to foster democracy without providing security to the people." President George W. Bush agrees. “The United States,” says Mr. Bush, “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."

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