OF ALVARO URIBE-VELEZ, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, TO THE LVII GENERAL
ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
greetings to Mr. Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, Chairman of
this General Assembly, which I address for the first time.
far from here, on that fateful 11th of September, 2,801 citizens
of the world died. In Colombia, violence causes as many deaths
Forty three million Colombians, lovers of peace, are suffering
one of the world´s worst humanitarian crises.
Every year, Colombia buries 34,000 of its sons, the victims of
violence. We have lost 10% of our youth.
Last year Colombia recorded the highest murder rate in the world:
63 per 100,000 of the population.
In the last five years we have suffered 8,000 acts of collective
destruction, more than those recorded in any other place of violence
around the world. 280 villages suffered attacks by guerrillas
and paramilitaries, with serious consequences for the civilian
population and the armed forces.
The terrorist act committed during my inaugural killed 21 innocent
and humble people.
Two million people, 40% of them children, have suffered forced
displacement under pressure from terrorist groups, both guerrillas
and paramilitaries. That is equivalent to displacing the communities
of Washington and Manhattan at the same time.
In the last five years 16,500 human beings have been the victims
of kidnapping. Yesterday six children were kidnapped, and one
of them is still in captivity.
390 mayors - in more than a quarter of all our municipal districts
- 9 provincial governors, and 107 provincial assemblymen have
received death threats from the same groups.
terrorist attacks of 11 September last year moved the entire world
and provoked just and universal condemnation. Today, the moral
conscience of mankind should be shaken by attacks such as that
committed by Colombian guerrillas on 2 May in Bojayá, a
humble village of a thousand people. They killed 117 civilians
who had taken refuge in the church.
violence impoverishes our people more every day, scares off investors,
hampers economic growth, diverts valuable resources and prevents
us from overcoming our economic and social backwardness.
Violence absorbs 4% of our Gross Domestic Product.
- There are daily attacks, kidnaps and robberies on our main highways,
such as that which joins our two largest cities. Can you imagine
that happening between Brussels and Paris, or New York and Boston?
Colombians are today making great efforts to face this problem
with policies for public order, reforms of the State to root out
corruption and political chicanery, greater economic growth and
central objective of our policy for Democratic Security is to
restore the rule of law.
Security is not for the persecution of real or imaginary ideological
enemies. Nor to maintain a one-party regime.
Security is to protect every citizen in a pluralist nation, open
to fraternal and creative debate.
Security is for all Colombians, so that peasant farmers will not
be driven off their small-holdings, businessmen will not be kidnapped;
journalists will not be threatened; and the mission of the bishops,
the priests, the nuns, the preachers and the educators will be
is to ensure that union leaders may be free to act; political
leaders may move around without fear; that human rights defenders
can go about their work without threats.
civil commander-in-chief of the armed forces I have a commitment
to the rigorous observance of human rights. Without that, we might
achieve a reduction in violence, but we would never achieve reconciliation.
Our emergency measures do no suppress human rights but demand
that rules be observed, for example in people´s movements,
in order to stop the transport, in the name of free mobilization,
of explosives used to kill.
respect controversy. The security policy which we are implementing
is not to silence the critics but to confront violence. There
is no going back on that policy.
numbers of our military and police are relatively low : 3,9 per
1,000 of the population. New York has 42,000 policemen: Colombia
as a whole has 75,000.
must strengthen our forces of law and order. We have decreed a
wealth tax, to be paid by businesses and high-income earners.
This tax should collect revenues of about 1% of GDP.
implementing this policy of Democratic Security, the Government
has called on the solidarity of one million citizens to provide
voluntary cooperation with the forces of law and order and the
support of the public for legitimate institutions is an essential
element of a Social State of Law. That support is an expression
of the solidarity of the individual with the community, and without
it the State would lose its social nature. We need to remove the
citizen´s fear of the guerrillas and the paramilitaries,
and create community ties to democratic institutions. The effectiveness
and transparency of the forces of law and order depends to a large
extent on cooperation from the public.
problem is a risk to the democratic stability of the region; and
we need the help of the world to solve it. I ask for the help
of the world because my Government has decided to defeat terror,
to ensure that the next four years do not pass as a fresh triumph
of crime or as new evidence of the vacillations of the State and
society in the face of the arrogance of the violent.
is imperative that the sources of finance for terror be eliminated.
Only with that will we defeat the drug-traffickers and kidnappers.
forum of the United Nations is concerned about chemical weapons,
and we share that concern. But we must, please, understand that
drugs have a capacity for mass destruction far more terrible than
have the determination to eliminate drugs. We ask the world to
make the same commitment. We cannot continue with timid half-decisions
or half-actions. While we dither, terrorism sows and traffics
more and more drugs.
not send us arms! Eliminate the markets for drugs and their precursors.
Help us with aerial interdiction, and with seizures of the drugs
that sail the waters of the Pacific and the Caribbean.
need funds to pay our peasant-farmers to destroy drugs and work
for the restoration of our woodlands.
week, Carlos Enrique Arenas, a Colombian Navy pilot aged 29 -
married with a daughter aged only two and a second child on the
way - and his copilot Roberto Enrique Guardo - also married with
three small children - disappeared over the sea. Their helicopter
crashed after they had intercepted a launch that carried more
than two tons of cocaine.
such as these demand the support of all countries to defeat drugs,
since so far we have managed to seize only 20% of the quantities
that leave Colombia.
United Nations Resolution orders the confiscation of bank accounts,
investments and other assets of those who commit terrorist acts.
This Resolution has been a dead letter in countries where money
used to finance terrorist acts in Colombia circulates.
Government´s commitment to security is not opposed to dialogue
- on the contrary, we want it. We have therefore asked for the
good offices of the United Nations, through a special adviser
to the Secretary General. This is the way to begin a serious peace
process, which must start with the cessation of violence.
Charter of the United Nations tells us that in order for dialogue
to begin, these acts must first cease.
grief of thousands of Colombians at the kidnap of their loved
ones - amongst whom are former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt,
several Congressmen, provincial assemblymen, the Governor of my
own province, a former minister and tireless worker for peace,
members of the forces and hundreds of ordinary people - shows
us that we need humanitarian actions which will not help to fertilize
violence but will lead us down the road to reconciliation.
world is full of analysts of the Colombian problem, and critics
of our society and our governments. We need less rhetoric and
more action, more real help to solve the problem.
do demand effective cooperation, because our violence is financed
by the international business of drugs, and is waged with weapons
not made in Colombia.
suffer the problems of misery, injustice, lack of investor confidence,
high debt and fiscal deficit that afflict many countries.
have always honored our international financial commitments, and
we always shall.
are making unprecedented efforts to freeze spending and to increase
taxes; but we need significant bilateral and multilateral economic
support to invest and to generate employment. That is, to begin
to pay our social debt.
victory over violence will help the economy to grow and to finance
the social development that in turn will consolidate peace.
thought: coffee was at one time worth more than $3, but today
only about $0.60. The international banks and cooperation agencies
should double their commitments and funding in Colombia. The money
will not be used in wasteful expenditure or to rescue bankrupt
companies, but to invest in the interests of the poor and secure
people of Colombia are worthy, hard-working, democratic and prudent,
and their spontaneity has not been stifled by their martyrdom.
Nation has the most solid of democratic traditions, the strength
of its long-term economic performance is recognized, our industrial
base is highly diversified and the structure of our production
is increasingly oriented towards international markets, with enormous
potential in small democratic enterprise.
the understanding and support of you, who represent the nations
of the world, and with our determination, Colombia will free itself
from the slavery of violence and may become a juster place.
York, 13 September 2002