Colombia

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1990.

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Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham 12:00 am, 7th February 1990

To ask the Secretary fo State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's relations with Colombia

Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

We have excellent relations with Colombia. President Barco will be a welcome visitor when he addresses the world ministerial drugs summit here in April

Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham

Does my hon. Friend recall the carnage in Bogota last December in which a narco-terrorist bomb aimed at the security police went off killing 70 people , wounding 1,000 and causing immense devastation within a radius of 2 km? Has he noticed recently the disarming of a similar bomb of 500 kg in a car park beneath a building in Bogota? Is he aware that it was disarmed by British "wheelbarrow" remote control bomb disposal equipment? Is that not a practical way in which Britain can help President Barco in his fight against the narco-terrorists? Should not we be doing more?

Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I vividly remember the devastation and carnage to which my hon. Friend referred. He is right to note that the practical help that we have given to the Colombian authorities has been very much appreciated by them and has already had direct and measureable benefits for the people of Colombia, by helping the authorities to win their war against the narcotics dealers and traders. I shall certainly see whether we can do more. I think my hon. Friend will recognise that we were very quick to provide immediate practical assistance

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Does the Minister agree that in addition to the appalling terror perpetrated on the people of Colombia by the drug barons, there is also a serious problem of human rights abuses by the police and armed forces against human rights workers, peasant leaders and trade unionists? When he next meets the Government of Colombia will he press upon them the real concern of many people round the world about the fate of trade union leaders, peasant leaders and others who seek to bring genuine peace, freedom and democracy to Colombia?

Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

There is concern about human rights abuses in Colombia. There is no reason to suppose that the Colombian Government are involved in those abuses. None the less we express concern to the Colombians whenever it is suitable

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When did Question 9 come before Question 8? We were discussing No. 8. If you have made a mistake—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman was not listening. What I said was that, due to a distraction at the Chair, I called the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) on the previous question. I had not intended to do so. We were on Question 9. I now call Question 10

Mr. Heifer:

Then you called Question 9

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Order Paper, he will see that Questions 8 and 9 are very similar and that 9 comes after 8