Colombian Scandal Undermining Congressional Support for Trade Deal

Colombian Scandal Undermining Congressional Support for Trade Deal

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- A domestic political scandal that has tarnished the reputation of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is undermining support in the U.S. Congress for aid to the United States' closest ally in Latin America, as well as threatening a proposed U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.

Uribe was in Washington last week to lobby for continued U.S. aid and ratification of the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) as the so-called "parapolitics" scandal, which implicates some Colombian politicians and high-ranking military officers in dealings with paramilitary groups, continued to gain momentum at home.

So far, an investigation into the scandal by the Colombian attorney general's office has led to the imprisonment of eight pro-Uribe lawmakers for alleged ties with right-wing paramilitary groups, which are responsible for human rights abuses and the murder of scores of trade unionists.

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