Gabriela Bocagrande witnesses the inauguration of Colombia’s newest leader from Monografia: Las Obras de Jose Guadalupe Posada dead, 46 injured. During the night, the numbers continued to rise. During his speech, however, Uribe warned that he and his ministers came not to work miracles but simply to work, and by 6:15 that evening he had sworn in all his cronies. They are not a promising bunch, and altogether they suggest more of the same only a bit worse, rather than the new era of hard work we’ve been hearing so much about. First of all, Uribe himself has strong links to the narcos through his campaign manager and former chief of staff, Pedro Juan Moreno Villa, the owner of GMP Chemical Products of Medellin. Between 1995 and 1998, while Uribe was the Governor of Antioquia in its capital of Medellin, GMP was the largest Colombian importer of potassium permanganate, a “precursor chemical” necessary to process cocaine. Uribe and Moreno point out that the chemical also has legitimate uses, such as the manufacture of printed circuit boards, but these are not really a pillar of the Colombian economy. Not like cocaine. The whole story came out in 1998 when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized an unreported shipment of 50,000 kilos of the chemical bound for GMP, enough to process cocaine with a street value of $15 billion. Heading up the rest of the crew is the new Minister of Interior and Justice, Fernando Londofio. He may be distracted from time to time during his tenure by the multi-million-dollar lawsuit pending against him for fraudulently buying shares in the state oil company at reduced prices by pretending to be an eligible employee when he was not. Then there’s the death squad connection of the hardworking new government: Uribe’s choice as the Commander of the Army, Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle, a graduate of the School of the Americas. Predictably, General Ospina has worked closely with the death squads formerly commanded by Carlos Castario, according to Human Rights Watch. Among other things, Ospina was responsible for a 1997 massacre, when soldiers under his command maintained a perimeter around the town of El Aro while a death squad executed at least 11 people, including three children, burned 47 of the 68 houses, a pharmacy, a church, and the telephone exchange, looted stores, destroyed water pipes, and forced most Of the residents to flee. Nice Guy. For the Ministry of the Treasury, Uribe swore in Roberto Junguito Bonnet, who represented Colombia at the International Monetary Fund during the tiresome old era of former President Pastrana, served as a member of the Board of the Central Bank under ex-Presidents Gaviria and Samper, and as the Treasury Minister under former President Betancur. As might be expected, unguito sees his own most pressing new-era challenge as obtaining the extension of Colombia’s agreement with the IMF, which he negotiated when he worked there. To accomplish this, he plans to appropriate extraordinary powers for the President, fire government workers, and tax the middle class into destitution. At the Ministry of Labor and Health, resume includes time spent at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as in the government of ex-President Gaviria. We know what we can expect from him: the promise of a huge number of crappy pick-and-shovel jobs, privatized health care, and a cheapskate privatized pension system that doesn’t work. Sure enough, in his first post-inauguration announcement, he promised all eligible Colombian seniors pensions of US$ 500 a year, a figure $230 below the official poverty line. Speaking of pensions, the new Minister of Trade, Jorge Humberto Botero, is the former president of the association of fund management companies that benefits from the astonishingly stingy and non-functional system. An adviser to ex-President Barco, his first challenge will be to convince our own President that Colombia should benefit from tariff preferences, despite its battle over $62 million with a U.S. energy company for reasons involving too much complicated corruption on both sides to explain here \(See T.O. continued on page 29 9/13102 TAE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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