“It is bad enough that the UK is aiding Colombian military units that violate human rights, but for a British minister to be photographed posing with the very unit that has tortured and assassinated trade unionists is shameful.”
Surrounding the smiling face of the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells in a picture taken in the Colombian region of Sumapaz are a general linked to paramilitary death squads and soldiers of a notorious unit of the Colombian army accused, including by Amnesty International, of torturing and killing trade unionists.
The photograph, taken in a military base and posted on the Foreign Office website, was yesterday greeted with outrage by Labour parliamentarians and trade union leaders. Howells is pictured with the High Mountain Brigades, a unit held responsible for the killing of trade union activists, peasants and anti-narcotics police during the past three years.
Behind him stand the Colombian defence minister, Juan Santos, and General Mario Montoya, head of the Colombian army, reports of whose collaboration with paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers and links with disappearances and killings – including leaked CIA reports – were cited last year by US congressional leaders as part of the reason for the suspension of tens of millions of dollars of US military aid to the south American regime. The Colombian government denies the accusations.
Of course this is not new for nulabour, hey there ‘Sir’ Mark Malloch-Brown.
PS. As Korova reminds me, General Mario Montoya is a SOA/WHINSEC alumnus. It’s a small world.