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Colombia: The FTA With the United States From the Blogosphere

With the pact signed in Washington to increase the debt ceiling following a criticized altercation between Democrats and Republicans, the United States (US) Congressional leaders have returned to the topic of the free trade agreement (FTA) with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.

Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, much like their Democratic counterpart Harry Reid, initiated the approval of the agreements, as well as a program to aid US workers who had lost their jobs due to foreign competition. Said treaties have been presented before the Congressional session for the past four years, though the free trade agreement with Colombia has become the most controversial of the three, since liberals criticize the Colombian state for its lack of protection towards syndicalist groups that see themselves threatened by insurgent groups of the left as well as the far right.

Juan Manuel Santos and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Colombia in June 2010. Flickr image from eltiempo.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Juan Manuel Santos and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Colombia in June 2010. Flickr image from eltiempo.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Being a topic that has been widely discussed for years, it has attracted more critics than sympathizers in the blogosphere. Marion Delgado from The Rag Blog, for example, mentioned that the treaty principally benefits US corporations, and accuses them of financing crimes committed against the syndicalists:

The organizations that stand to benefit the most from this free trade agreement — U.S. multinational corporations — have been involved in aiding and abetting [the] bloodshed [against trade unionists].

The blog Optometría en la Salud [es] explains the damage that a possible free trade agreement with the United States would bring to Colombia:

El TLC no afecta solo a la industria sino también todos los sectores económicos, una parte y muy importante es la salud.

The FTA does not only affect the industry but rather all of the economic sectors as well, one extremely important part of which, is health.

Alfonso Zamudio’s blog Cine y Politica [es] concludes that the free trade agreement does not count on full “freedom”:

Como resumen, un Tratado de Libre Comercio, sin libertad, pues condiciona en el lado exportador entregas máximas anuales, cuotas exportadoras y calidades orientadas a sectores de privilegio colombiano, y en el lado importador una apertura amplia a sectores nacionales de por sí débiles.

To summarize, a Free Trade Agreement, without freedom, conditions maximum annual deliveries, exported quotas and qualities oriented to privileged Colombian sectors on the exporter’s side, and on the importer’s side an ample opening to national sectors that are in fact weak.

The Independent Institute’s [es] Spanish blog shares an article from The Wall Street Journal Americas where John Bussey mentions that, despite the strong feelings developing around this topic and the small transcendence that this business has with Colombia, there are certain advantages:

Puede que aumente las exportaciones del país norteamericano fraccionariamente y podría crear —según cálculos de la Casa Blanca— miles de puestos de trabajo en EE.UU., no decenas de miles. A Caterpillar le gusta porque la compañía vende mucha de su maquinaria pesada en Colombia. Igualmente, hay una expectativa normal en otros sectores empresariales.

It is possible that the North American country’s exports increase fractionally and could create – according to White House calculations – thousands of positions in the U.S., not tens of thousands. Caterpillar likes it because the company sells much of its heavy machinery in Colombia.  qually, there is a normal expectation in other corporate sectors.

Surprisingly, the trills following the US Congress’ announcement last week were few to come by. Sites like International Trade (@IntradeGS) [es] simply echoed that which Washington made known:

El Congreso de Estados Unidos está en proceso de aprobación de tratados de libre comercio con Colombia

The United States Congress is in the process of approving the free trade agreements with Colombia

Katherin Miranda (@kathmirandap) [es] affirms that one of the obstacles of Colombia’s development is its road network:

La competitividad a la que esta llamada Colombia, es imposible de desarrollarse por su pésima infraestructura vial… Y quieren TLC??

The competitiveness that Colombia is called to is impossible to develop because of its terrible road infrastructure… And you want a free trade agreement??

On his part, Julian Buitrago (@buitragojulian) [es] also expressed doubts regarding the advantages that an FTA would bring to Colombia:

El dolar se devaluará más. USA necesita vender para salir de la recesión. Será que el TLC sí le conviene a Colombia??

The dollar will devalue even more, the US needs to sell in order to end the recession. Is the FTA truly advisable to Colombia??

Finally, Juan David Escobar (@ElReticente) [es] shows pessimism before an eventual trade agreement with the United States:

cosas que ya no me dan ni risa: que en Colombia creamos que en plena crisis aún tenemos opciones de firma del TLC con los gringos.

Things that don’t even make me laugh anymore: that in Colombia we believe that in a full crisis we still have the option of signing the FTA with the Yanks.
  • Check out these three videos to hear what Colombians have to say about the US-Colombia FTA:
    Small-scale workers – http://bit.ly/pDHs0N
    Afro-Col and Ind – http://bit.ly/q5BYPH
    Civil Society – http://bit.ly/oWvv8o
    And please send them to your local representative! It’s not too late to speak out. If you can’t prevent the FTA, you can help Congress realize the importance of establishing protection programs for Colombian civil rights leaders.

    For more information visit http://www.usofficeoncolombia.org. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter @USOCHumanRights, or to find us on Facebook.

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