14 August 2007

Lo Político

This item is about the imperiled Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. I've blogged about it before and it remains a sore spot for those that would like to encourage democracy and economic stability in Latin America. This is actually about an article in last week's Wall Street Journal by Mary Anastasia O'Grady. Her emphasis is on The Americas, and in the the article cited above she talks about how Democrats are using Colombia's problems against it while ignoring Cuba's more glaring flaws. An excerpt:

...homicides of unionists are down by two-thirds since Mr. Uribe took office and the government is bending over backward to protect union members. A special protection program for vulnerable individuals, which allows anyone who feels threatened to appeal for special help, now covers more than 5,000 individuals. According to the government, 1,500 of them are unionists. Last year it spent $24 million protecting union leaders and their families, it says. The attorney general's office has established a special program to investigate human-rights violations against union members. As to unsolved murders, the AG sat down with union leaders and agreed on a list of 200 cases that now have high priority for investigation and prosecution.

Mr. Uribe's government has demobilized 43,000 illegal armed combatants. Some 33,000 were paramilitary members and 10,000 were guerrillas. But the president notes that the country started with some 60,000 "terrorists," so there is still work to be done.

Even if none of this progress had occurred, it would make little sense to reject the FTA. Colombia needs the free trade agreement, Mr. Uribe said in New York, because it's how "we can generate more employment of a higher quality, send more of our products to the U.S. market and in this way we will have less illicit drugs, less terrorism, more peace, more security, more well-being for the Colombian people." If only the government in Havana cared as much about the Cuban population.

Abandoning Colombia as an ally in trade and security would be a huge mistake. It sends all the wrong signals to an area that is essentially in political flux.

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