Alex Neve of Amnesty International on Harper's visit to Columbia:
"We recognize that (Harper), probably, through dealings with the U.S. government and others, is also receiving strong messages that he needs to go down and shore up (Colombian) President (Alvaro) Uribe's beleaguered government and convey a strong message of support," said Alex Neve, head of Amnesty International Canada.There is also concern with respect to Canadian mining company Barrick Gold's interests in Chile:
Neve said that support would be for naught if a free trade agreement with the country pushes the human rights situation out of the picture.
"It's our hope that he's going to recognize the importance of being consistent with the human rights message, that if he starts to become inconsistent then he immediately starts to lose his credibility."
The most controversial stop on the trip could come Wednesday in Santiago, Chile. There, Harper will visit the offices of Barrick Gold, whose proposed Pascua Lama gold and silver mine in the Andes on the Chile-Argentine border has become a rallying point for critics of multinational mining operations.
Reports that the company's explorations have eroded the size of three glaciers by more than half have some Chilean lawmakers calling for a halt to planned operations and a probe into the environmental effects of Barrick's activities.
I will post more about the business interests in our Business & Human Rights in Vancouver blog.