Cargando Video
     
Monday, June 25, 2007
Commentary
DEMOCRATS & US-COLOMBIA FTA

Unfair Treatment of Colombia

Democrat lawmakers are treating Colombia unfairly and should reverse their position immediately if they have Colombia's well-being in mind.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe greets admirers in Cartagena on Friday. (Photo: Cesar Carrion Ayala/SNE)

Poll

Should the US Congress approve FTAs with Colombia, Panama and Peru? Results / Other Polls

BY CHRONICLE EDITORS

The U.S. free trade agreement with Colombia is now officially stalled in the U.S. Congress thanks to Democrat lawmakers that are using a combination of unfair standards and outright incorrect information.

Democrat legislators are now opposing the FTA because they claim that Colombia is too unsafe for union leaders, while they also question Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's ties to rightist paramilitaries.

It is a sad day when US legislators use such ignorance to stall a historically important agreement.

Let's set the record straight. Uribe is the best thing that has happened to Colombia since slice bread. He has waged a tireless and intelligent war against organized crime, whether it be rightist paramilitaries, leftist guerrillas or drug traffickers.

The results have been a significant reduction in crime and violence, which in turn has led to an economic boom and record high foreign investment. Colombia's economy last year grew by 6.8 percent, its best result in 28 years. In the first quarter this year it grew by 8.09 percent. Meanwhile, foreign investment went from $2.1 billion in 2002 — the year Uribe took office — to $6.3 billion last year.  

UNION MURDERS DECLINE

The attacks against union leaders have actually declined in Colombia since Uribe became president in August 2002. In 2001 — the last year before he became president — there were 168 union murders in Colombia. In 2003 — the first full year after he became president — there were 52. In 2005 that figure fell to 14. However, last year they reached 25, marking an increase compared to the previous year, yet still considerably better than before Uribe became president.

As for rightist paramilitaries, their terror has been reduced thank to Uribe's amnesty plan, which demobilized more than 30,000 paramilitary members.  All in all, the number of deaths in Colombia have fallen strongly — from 27,841 in 2001 to 17,479 last year.

Instead of rewarding Uribe for the impressive results these five years — including a decline in union murders and paramilitary violence — Democrat legislators are punishing him for an increase in union murders last year.

CHAVEZ THREAT GROWS

All this at a time when Colombia's neighbor, Venezuela, represents a growing threat to democracy in Latin America and U.S. national security. This week, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, plans to travel to Russia for another round of arms purchases - this time submarines, no less. (That trip will be followed by visits to infamous rogue states like Belarus and Iran).

Uribe, in contrast, has been a firm U.S. ally in Latin America. And unlike Chavez, he is welcoming U.S. companies with open arms, whether they want to invest in oil or other sectors.

Rather than a sincere concern about Colombia's human rights situation, we therefore suspect the Democrat legislators opposing the FTA with Colombia are cozying up to U.S. unions — which typically oppose FTAs in principle — at a time when the United States is preparing for a presidential election next year.  The fact that they are getting their arguments from Uribe's free-market opponents at home doesn't make things better.

If concern about Colombia's well-being is truly at the heart of the Democrat opponents of the FTA, they should reverse their position and vote for the Colombia-U.S. FTA immediately. 

                               © Copyright Latin Business Chronicle
 

Post Your Comments
You can write a comment on this article by clicking here.

From: Don Gist

Miami, USA
I would like to add that the threat is not just from Venezuela, but also from Chavez's allies, Ecuador and Bolivia. Part of the 9 submarine flottilla Chavez is purchasing from Russia may well be destined to be based at Manta upon the departure of U.S. personnel in 2009, giving Chavez an access to the pacific coast of Colombia and other Latin American countries, and he now has bases in Bolivia. The media barrage against Colombia is being done in order to develop pretexts for future military actions against Colombia.

From: Greg Adams

Washington, DC
I agree with the article 100%. But its arguments would be more credible if it dropped the Bush-speak "Democrat lawmakers," which members of the Democratic party see as a slur. (After all, I don't know of any "Republic lawmakers.") Let the facts speak for themselves and avoid perjorative terms.

From: Matt Davis

San Francisco, CA
If some Democrats in Congress won't support Colombia, it's ok. But we, Americans that vote and read and care about the fate of this country, we'll keep supporting Colombians, as our friends. As we comment on sites like this one, we must go to the sites that are opposing Colombia and comment there too. Whenever we can, sending emails to Democrats in Congress opposing Colombia will help a lot. If the Congress we helped to elect fails to our only ally in South America, we Americans will not fail Colombia. We can't.

This article has 4 comments. See all >>

  Other articles in : Commentary
Back to Commentary