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(Update) The Anti-Chavez and Popular American Ally

9:52 AM, Mar 13, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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(Update II: Uribe supporters won big in yesterday's congressional elections, paving the way for passage of the U.S-Colombia free trade deal. With strong support in Congress and probable reelection in May, Uribe's offensive against the FARC will likely intensify. All of this is pretty remarkable given that just a few years ago the FARC greeted the newly elected president by firing mortars at the presidential palace while he took the oath of office inside. The attack, which killed dozens, led many analysts to offer grim assessments on Colombia's future. Uribe, who came to office after the fail of several "peace initiatives," has proven them wrong.)

(Update: FARC terrorists continue their killing spree in their effort to destabilize Colombia's democracy. This time, AP reports, they gunned down eight unarmed town officials while they ate lunch.)

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez gets lots of media attention with his anti-American rants. But in bordering Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe is a friend of America and an anti-terror ally. In a nation where tens of thousands have been killed and many more scarred physically and emotionally from decades of violence and terror, things are looking a bit brighter these days. Killings and kidnappings are down. Drug production has been cut. Foreign investment is rising; the economy has stabilized; and for the first time in almost a decade Standard & Poor's boosted its rating for Colombian debt. Not bad for a man derided as a "hardliner" by his political opponents whose election, they warned voters, would be a disaster for Colombia. Right now, Uribe is on track to score another impressive election victory in May and that doesn't sit well with Colombia's FARC terrorists who on Saturday, the Associated Press reports, ambushed a civilian bus with gunfire, killing nine.

"We don't understand how they can attack the unarmed civilian population in this way," Mendoza [Col. Jose Angel Mendoza, police chief of Caqueta state] said in an interview with RCN Radio....

More than a week ago, FARC rebels began distributing pamphlets warning drivers to stay off the highways in Caqueta and Putumayo states. The FARC said the traffic ban was aimed in part to protest the re-election bid of President Alvaro Uribe, a hard-line leader with whom the rebels have shunned peace talks.

Uribe, who is well-liked by most Colombians and seems likely to coast to victory in presidential elections set for May 28, has sought to wipe out the guerrillas militarily.

Uribe's prospective reelection follows in the footsteps of other friends of America. Australia's John Howard won a fourth term, while Tony Blair was elected to an unprecedented third. German and Canadian voters fo