Filed under: Americas
Congressional Democrats are really doing a number on our ally Colombia, shutting it out of free trade. They say that because Colombia has some vaguely defined 'violence,' (Amnesty lists 6 cases) 46 million Colombians should get the door to free trade slammed shut in their faces. It's something they've been doing for awhile. After that, Democrats then assure us that all they want to do is 'help' Colombia.
The imperial majesties of the House Ways and Means Committee weighed in with who lives and who dies on free trade. Being anything but Solomons, they decided to split the baby, allowing safe passage for free trade to friendly Panama and friendly Peru.
But for allied, courageous, and dramatically beautified Colombia - the cudgel and the back of their Congressional hand - sealed with a creepy Judas kiss.
Congress put this statement out:
With regard to the Colombia FTA, the House of Representatives recently passed the 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which redirects U.S. foreign assistance in Colombia. All of us regard Colombia as a crucial ally in a region that deserves our active engagement, and the bill represents an effort to have U.S. funds help address the root of numerous problems there. There is widespread concern in Congress about the level of violence in Colombia, the impunity, the lack of investigations and prosecutions, and the role of the paramilitary. Issues of this nature cannot solely be resolved through language in a trade agreement.
We believe there must first be concrete evidence of sustained results on the ground in Colombia, and Members of Congress will continue working with all interested parties to help achieve this end before consideration of any FTA. Consequently, we cannot support the Colombia FTA at this time.
So you read right - because there is some violence in a society that's been engulfed by war for 44 years, 46 million Colombians are to be denied the right to free trade with America for as long as it takes for Congress to be convinced it's over. That's Congress' idea of a solution. That'll fix 'em.
Instead of a free trade agreement, all Colombia's getting from Congress is the same deal that loudly anti-American Ecuador is getting: ad-hoc trade privileges under the ATPDEA program to fight drugs, which keep American companies out of Colombian markets but allow Colombian companies to trade here in the U.S. freely so long as the U.S. says so.
Colombia doesn't want that. Colombia wants the solid permanent treaty of free trade instead. It WANTS to open its markets to the U.S. as its means of securing permanent growth, but the Democrats in Congress won't let them. Colombia wants the assurance of a permanent pact so that it can continue growing. It wants it so bad it's bent over backwards and gone through every hoop Congress has asked them to.
And it still isn't good enough.
Shunning Colombia, look at how vague those Congressional demands are - Colombia has knocked down deaths of unionists by 90% as of April 2007, and that's not good enough for Congress. It's given 1500 trade unionists bodyguards, bulletproof cars, prosecutors, special protections that ordinary Colombians don't get - all for nothing. I called the House Ways and Means Committee today and pleaded with them: What is it going to take to satisfy you? What does Colombia have to do? How can the agony end? And they had no answer for me. "I'll have to get back to you," they said - for every single one of my queries. It was painful.
But it did convince me that Colombia is being strung along with no relief in sight, and nothing it does will please the leftists who run Congress, nothing short of the overthrow of President Uribe, a democratically elected president that they don't like.
It's absolute horrible to think that the U.S. would do this to an ally that's done so much for us and asked so little in return.
I see signs of weakness in this untenable stand, in that Congress keeps falsely saying it wants to help Colombia, signalling that it fears those of us who state that their act is unfriendly, hurts Colombia's huge private sector and helps only Hugo Chavez. Therefore, there is room for fightback. Congress wants a free hand to abuse Colombia (as Al Gore has) but they don't want to be called its enemy, called to account, by bloggers like me.
Congress, I got one message for you - you are Colombia's enemy and you are harming Colombia. You are on the side of narcotraffickers. You are helping Hugo Chavez - and not doing one thing for Colombia's well-being.
Colombia has risen from the monstrous ashes of a terrifying war to become a nation that has grown into free trade and needs free trade to grow into a first world country. It's been the U.S.'s most faithful ally in the entire hemisphere, it's been a friend to Democratic and Republican administrations alike without fear or favor. The only thing that can be concluded is that Democrats can't stand this country because it's ruled by a rightwinger, a man who won office with 70% of the popular vote, and who now holds an 80% approval rating .... for Congress, this noble nation must be cut down. Colombia's on the hit list of various Soros-funded leftwing think tanks that wield tremendous influence in Washington - that's probably another reason for the unreasonable stance and why they all need to be exposed. Congress' action is a slap in the face of a U.S. ally unlike any other in history. This nation did anything for us, anything, and look how our Congress is treating it!
I am so angry I could throw things. I burn with hatred, I want to break something. How could Congress be so unethical? How could they throw away something so precious?
Colombia and the U.S. are united together by so much! We both share Atlantic and Pacific coasts. We became independent at the same time and with largely through same idea forces. We almost took Colombia's name, except that Colombia got it first, so we used the name 'Columbia' in our capital. We have so much in common, our histories and experiences intertwine. We bought Panama from Colombia and developed the mighty Panama canal from it. We share the drug war, one side buyers and the other side sellers, a war that wreaks havoc at any nation in its way and therefore have an important mission to solve together. Colombians who come here are so like us they blend in and assimilate right away. Colombia is becoming more like us in that it's developing a capitalist economy quite unlike any other in Latin America. How could we betray Colombia, which is our precious ally?
Colombia is going to be traumatized by this. The charges against it are exaggerated, and cutting off free trade as a solution is way too draconian and disproportionate. The failure to give Colombia the free trade pact it's earned is only likely to increase the violence as Colombia's economy tanks. Leaving 46 million people in the cold is no way to make them want to be your ally. Betraying a nation like this will have consequences for us and I shudder to think what they are.
Congress, I curse you!
UPDATE: Jim Hoft at GatewayPundit has an absolutely dazzling item, a must-read here.
UPDATE: Fausta has much more with lots of good newer links here.