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Colombia Fires Mark Penn's Firm

The Colombian government announced Saturday morning that it will terminate its contract with Burson-Marsteller Worldwide over chief executive Mark Penn’s statement that it was “an error in judgment” to consult with the Colombian ambassador on how to win passage of the free trade agreement while serving as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief strategist.

“The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable,” the embassy said in a press release.

The Colombian embassy retained Penn’s firm in March 2007 to provide “public relations and communications consulting services” for the controversial free trade agreement and Plan Colombia, an aid program to help the country uproot the narcotics industry.

Sen. Clinton has made no bones that she opposes the Colombia trade pact and would vote against it. She may get her chance soon as the Bush administration appears ready to send the pact up to Congress as early as next week without the traditional blessing from the majority party.

Penn apologized for the meeting on Friday. Nonetheless, some labor unions – which vehemently oppose the Colombia trade deal – called on Clinton to fire Penn over the incident.

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