Thursday, June 10, 2010

Diplomacy Colombia Style, Starring Hillary Clinton

So this post was going to be about the irony of Hillary Clinton acknowledging Colombia's advancement in human rights at the same press conference that Big Al' Uribe criticized the sentencing of former Army Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega to 30 years in prison. I mean all the guy did was get convicted for the forced disappearances of 11 individuals in 1985. Or, as Uribe described it "someone who was simply trying to fulfill their duty", adding, "That hurts. That makes me sad." Awww. Just fulfilling your duty eh? Is that what you have to say about killing peasants and dressing them up as guerrillas to fulfill quotas too? Whatever, in any case, as ridiculous as his statements may be, the post was ruined because, well quite simply, Hillary Clinton didn't exactly say what I thought she had.

So what happened?

I read this Colombia Reports article that included this line, "Clinton also recognized advances that Colombia had made in terms of human rights." And where did that link take me? Well, the website of the President of Colombia of course! Where I read that Clinton said:

“Reconocemos los avances en derechos humanos que ha hecho Colombia, los retos que aún persisten y la necesidad de la vigilancia, del compromiso en ese tema"

Or, loosely translated:

We recognize the advances in human rights that Colombia has made...blah blah blah

And I'm like damn, Hillary Clinton is recognizing some advances, at the same press conference that Uribe slams the jailing of a human rights abuser and a few days after the International Trade Union Confederation announced that half of the killings of unionists in the WORLD happened in COLOMBIA. But because it's the Colombia government, there is just this hint of doubt about everything they have to tell me, so I check the quote with the State Department's transcript (more trustworthy? Eh, probably), and this is what I find:

We also discussed Colombia’s efforts to enhance human rights, the strides made, the challenges that remain, the ongoing need for vigilance and commitment.

Wait, what? "We discussed Colombia's efforts to enhance human rights"? I mean, even loosely translated that's not "We recognize the advances in human rights". At least she did include discussing "the strides made", but fair to say this statement from the Presidents website is grossly overstated, right?

So not exactly the post we set out to write, but hey, on the same day Uribe criticizes the jailing of a big time rights abuser, the President's press secretary grossly exaggerates the US secretary of state's comments concerning so called "advancements" in human rights....yes, just another day in sunny Colombia!

1 comment:

  1. We made a big mistake there and I'm glad you pointed it out, we had completely missed it. It just proves how important it is to correctly state who says what.

    Adriaan Alsema
    Colombia Reports