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Colombians Angry Over U.S. Decision to Bar Their Leader

July 13, 1996| Reuters

BOGOTA, Colombia — Most Colombians bridle at Washington's decision to bar President Ernesto Samper from entering the United States, a poll indicated Friday.

Interior Minister Horacio Serpa also denounced the cancellation of the Colombian leader's U.S. entry visa, calling it "totally unwarranted and insulting."

"It does a lot of damage to our country," Serpa said in an interview with the RCN radio network. He said the move projects an image around the globe of Colombia as "a pariah state of drug traffickers and shameless people."

The cancellation of the visa was announced Thursday in Washington by State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, who accused Samper of being secretly allied with Colombian drug traffickers.

It came a month after Colombia's Congress voted overwhelmingly to clear Samper of charges that he accepted millions of dollars in Cali cartel drug money to bankroll his 1994 election campaign.

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