Well, it wasn't the ringing call for respect for human rights and freedom of expression that we longed for –that's for sure. But when President Obama met with Colombian President Uribe on June 29th, it was clear that he had been listening to our message on Colombia.
Before the meeting, thousands of you sent emails and made phone calls to make sure that the new administration would take U.S.-Colombia policy in a new direction. Here in DC, we worked with other policy and human rights organizations to get our message out to the press and administration officials.
From the White House press conference, we know that President Obama discussed with his Colombian counterpart three issues we pressed for: killing of civilians by the army; the massive illegal wiretapping of activists, journalists, Supreme Court judges and anyone else pegged as opposition; and the need to protect union leaders and civil society leaders at risk. We were also excited to hear that he threw a pail of cold water on President Uribe's plan to run for a third term –and it made front page headlines in Colombia. Together we made an impact!
But we're not done yet. Even though President Obama raised some of our issues, he was quick to congratulate "President Uribe on the progress that has been made" –most likely in order to justify moving forward with the free trade agreement. How else can you explain his claim that violence against trade unionists is on a "downward trajectory" when it went up last year from 39 to 49 murders in 2008?
If we want Obama to make deeper changes in US policy towards Colombia, we must increase our grassroots pressure. So, we need your help! Can you send 10 friends a message asking them to join our action list and make our voice that much louder? Just give them this link and they can sign up instantly: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/625/t/8560/signUp.jsp?key=3941&tag=ca1.
We also wanted to take a moment to let you know that Travis has moved on to new adventures, where he will continue to work tirelessly for real change in this world. We want to thank him for all the work he did over the past few years and wish him the best in the future. Vanessa Kritzer will be hitting the ground running, wasting no time to start working with all of you to seize this opportunity to make change in U.S. policy towards Colombia. To learn more about Vanessa, check out her bio here.
We'll be back to you soon with updates on our progress and more opportunities for action!