The Welsh TUC last week called on Gordon Brown’s government to halt military aid to Colombia. It joined a chorus of condemnation of Kim Howells MP, the foreign office minister and Pontypridd MP, who was pictured sharing a joke with General Mario Montoya, head of the Colombian army.
Montoya is reported to have links with paramilitary groups responsible for murdering trade unionists and other social activists. The Colombian army itself is implicated in thousands of human rights abuses.
Some trade unionists have called for Howells to be stripped of his union backing.
He is currently sponsored by the Amicus section of the Unite union.
Andy Richards, Welsh secretary of the T&G section of the Unite union, joined a union and Labour Party delegation to Colombia in January.
He said he “met families of trade unionists who had been brutally tortured, murdered and mutilated”.
He added, “We were left in no doubt that aid from the British government
was ending up with groups that are involved in the murder of trade unionists.
“Kim Howells has refused to meet us as a group – and when I raised the matter through the Wales TUC he did not even respond to our letter.
“He has to be incredibly deluded if he believes he can behave in such a reckless and wholly unacceptable way and retain our union’s support at election time.”