President Alvaro Uribe asks Washington to stop meddling

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia, reportedly told the United States on Friday to stop meddling in the affairs of his country. The U.S. ambassador to Colombia asked the president to take steps to fight corruption that have plagued Colombian regional elections. Uribe stated that "the Colombian government does not accept the meddling of foreign governments, even if it is the United States."

U.S. ambassador William Wood gave a speech in which he claimed that many regional, including mayoral, races had gone unopposed due to bribery and intimidation. The ambassador blames rightist paramilitary groups for most of the offenses. Wood suggested that groups who continue to commit offenses despite the peace deal they signed should be stripped of the benefits they have received through that deal.

Uribe has been criticized by many human rights groups for going soft on paramilitary organizations. President Uribe's father was killed by leftist guerillas.

Uribe is a conservative politician and one of the United States closest allies in the region. The ambassador, William Wood, apologized for confusion made by his comments saying that "there was no intention to interfere in any way with Colombian elections, but rather to support the democratic, free, open and impartial process."

A former ambassador, Myles Frechette, suggests that because the president is up for re-election in May, he might want to demonstrate to the country that Colombia is a sovereign nation.