|A just deal, or just a deal?|
But some U.S. congressmembers, human rights advocates and unions have opposed the proposed agreement because of Colombia's very troubled history in human rights issues and union rights. For many years, Colombia had more killings of union leaders than all the rest of the world combined. Is it right to reward such a nation?
|Women peasants porotest rights abuses, in Bogota.|
Also, a U.S. union representative once explained to me that U.S. unions opposed the agreement because it would establish a precedent for the approval of other FTAs, which would shift U.S. jobs overseas.
For their part, Colombian officials seem to want the FTA to a great degree out of self respect for being such a loyal ally. After all, temporary agreements intended to promote non-drug industries already give Colombia most of the same trade preferences for their exports.
|Free trade beneficiaries? |
Pushing American smokes on youths in La Candelaria.
Scarily for me, the New York Times reports that the agreement will remove tariffs from 80% of consumer products. Let's welcome the discount X-Boxes and SUVs, for the good of Colombia! This page seems to give a good, and terrifying, summary of the agreement. Look forward to an invasion of used cars which can't meet U.S. mileage or clean air standards!
I sure hope I'm wrong, but I fear that an FTA will mostly promote Colombia's exports of hydrocarbons, agricultural goods, timber, etc, instead of helping the country shift manufacturing, which creates much more income, requires brainpower and means high-paying, skilled jobs.
See photos of the protest against the FTA and proposed public university reforms.
By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours